Review: Lexus CT200h Take Two

Posted on 25. Nov, 2010 by in Auto News

A Lexus without wood is like Dolly Parton without tits. The music of the experience takes your breath away and yet … You just feel something is missing. Is it the smile? The wig? When I saw the press release sections of the Lexus CT200h, I had problems with the entire vehicle. You want to compete with a sporty hybrid with the acceleration of a 15-year-old Camry with the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series? I know Toyota wants to build more hybrid. But as the owner of two hybrids, I thought the car would represent a Cimmaron moment for hybrids and the Lexus brand. Then I saw it in person. Perception and reality fought, and this is what I found.

If an enthusiast on the outside of the CT200h looks, one word comes to mind: Scion. This car has the look of an expensive, sporty Scion with absolutely none of the pomp and the presence of a traditional Lexus. It's a bit chrome on the grille, the usual circular L logo and a whole lot of LEDs on the tail. It has a presence about it … but it is rather a youthful vehicle than anything Toyota has ever released under the Lexus brand.

Once you see the CT in person from all sides, it has a flow to its design. Photograph the car from an angle after another makes it look like a discombobulated mass: IS front-end, rear-RX, Scion generic bulbous in the middle. The meat all comes into focus and the car looks ten times better.

Jumps when you open the door another word quickly to mind: 'tight'. This is the closest vehicle I have experienced since the RX-8. Everything is close and on your knees. In fact, I felt more pampered and claustro than in my first generation Honda Insight in this car. I bumped my head on the roof mounted grab handle just looking for a change and make my six-foot-plus AARP-enabled passenger decided to stick on the front passenger seat for much of the journey through largely due to the lack of space.

As an enthusiast, I love the CT sports car-like driving position. But people who fight traffic instead of winding country roads, they come to despise. Outstretched Arms and cramped in a car that feels small aging rapidly. But at least we have acceleration and handling is not it?

Well, the acceleration is marginal at best, with 60 arriving in the mid-9, and and the suspension is firmly on the head. You feel any of the road imperfections. Changing the settings on "convenience" did not make much difference. Toyota believes that people want in their 30s and 40s have a hard riding hybrid. If that is the case, to be. I love my 2001 Insight, but it will take a special kind of customer, go to this car and accept class-trailing edge speed.

Those in temperate zones with smooth roads welcome the CT grip violent. Can emulate on the road, feels the tailgate in a way some touring car planted. Thanks to a low center of gravity and the sturctural stiffness of a lead pipe gives the Lexus a sports car experience that some four-door competitors can compete in the $ 30k price level. Hybrid or not, makes the CT experience the drive.

On the way I. Averaged a little over 42 miles per gallon Phenomenal given that I hammered the throttle every time an open road beckoned. As his drama-free Prius sibling, the CT could go north of 60 with a lot of hypermiling, but the car does not encourage a slight foot.

In "Normal" and "Eco" mode, the hybrid powertrain will be the same as in the Prius, and so struggles to match the rapid acceleration in the midrange of a sports compact. I get 59 mpg with my Honda Insight on a daily basis, but if I had to drive the CT, I would never leave off of sports. Even with the mileage penalty … it is the first hybrid I've ever driven, the happy when they really seem to be up to speed.

Sport mode electronically replaced a tachometer for the all-too-dippy 'Ecometer' and spikes the battery juice. CT has no trouble mojo it once it has the extra power. "Sport" mode adds 150V AC power supply for driving the electric motor thanks to a clever inverter, which converts the direct current from the battery. In the real world this extra push push in power with excellent handling and fuel consumption makes the CT a fun-filled and economical Scion … I mean, a de-forested Lexus.

It's enough to make the CT. Competitive alternative in a tiny area where the Audi A3 TDI is absolutely dominant and the Volvo C30 and BMW 1-series are behind America has almost no interest in the minutiae of "entry level premium sports compact segment." Would you believe, combined only 1,500 units per month for all three models? Yes Americans often like to spend $ 30k + for a long description that. Amounts for small expensive cars with limited power

This is the first challenge I see with this vehicle. The second is that the CT is a first-generation stands up well against pedigreed Europeans. Lexus does not agree, but I'd also bet that the MINI and GTI is hellacious competitors. That's not all. The Prius still provides 20% better fuel economy and the Fusion Hybrid is a popular and established presence in the $ 30k + market. The CT is a hard time getting noticed in this premium audience.

The final challenge Lexus will face: the course. Toyota still struggling with establishing a sports car on the market … and keep them there. Only that is, has a sporty niche within the entire Toyota / Scion / Lexus portfolio are approximately the 2010th Celica, Supra, MR2, SC, are all dead, the search for a new sporty Toyota in the U.S.. Such a shame

Otherwise, Toyota North America currently offers the stubby Scion tC (which was neglected for the past few years) and a few limited production 'F' series vehicles. This lack of sporting pedigree will mean that the CT is serious trouble pulling the up-and-coming luxury car buyers, BMWs and Audis, the gold standard of the sport must take into account the compact segment.

Toyota seems to be realistic about the CT, the short-term outlook: it is only predicted 12,000 sales per year. So, especially when dancing, gas prices closer to the European level, the car will continue to stick around. But for God's sake! Lexus, give this thing a little more wood!

Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.