The CT 200h hybrid hatchback is Lexus’ entry-level offering and is relatively unique in that it offers a hatchback bodystyle, which tends to be unpopular with luxury buyers in the U.S., and a hybrid drivetrain.
It’s also relatively pricey when you consider that an Audi A3 lists for almost $2,000 less than the Lexus but is equally stylish and in TDI diesel trim is actually more fuel efficient on the highway. Nevertheless, the Lexus is still very impressive, especially around town, with its overall fuel economy coming in at 43/40 mpg city/highway.
Lexus likes to refer to its CT 200h as being somewhat sporty, even offering an F Sport range of accessories for the 2012 model year. However, the car is anything but quick, taking a dismal 10 seconds to go from 0-60 mph, so performance fans best go for the Audi or something else.
What the Lexus CT 200h does offer, in addition to its stellar fuel economy, is refinement, tasteful styling, a ton of features, and manageable running costs.
The car was introduced as a brand new model for 2011 so for 2012 the updates have been kept to a minimum. The latest version brings an audible warning system for pedestrians and cyclists when in silent electric-only mode, and Nebula Gray Pearl paint instead of last year’s Smoky Granite Mica.
The drivetrain consists of 1.8-liter gasoline engine matched to Toyota’s hybrid synergy drive system. Peak output equals 98 horsepower and in combination with the hybrid drive motor, the CT 200h generates 134 total system horsepower. Note, there is a Sport mode that changes most of the controls, giving full electric assist at partial throttle and changing the power gauge into a red-rimmed tachometer. But its electric power steering is still numb, a chronic Toyota issue, and it's not quite in the same league as sporty hatches like the Audi A3 or even Volvo’s aging C30.
The good news is that there are a ton of features to keep you entertained. Some standard items include keyless ignition, fully integrated iPod control, Bluetooth hands-free voice and audio streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Lexus Safety Connect. Among the many options are partial LED headlamps, the Lexus Enform real-time information and navigation system, and rain-sensing wipers.
If you opt for the sporty F Sport package you get some worthwhile upgrades including stiffer suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels with a high-gloss finish, and a new mesh-pattern grille. Inside, the F Sport package adds metal scuff plates up front, a perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedals, and metallic trim.
For an in-depth look at the 2012 Lexus CT 200h, including assessments on its styling, performance, quality, and safety, head over to our sister site The Car Connection for the full review.