Spruce up for Lexus

big hitters

Lexus CT 200h, 2017, side
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, nose
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, rear
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, interior
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, display screen
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, rear seats
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, engine
Lexus CT 200h, 2017, boot
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, front, action
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, side
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, side, action
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, display screen
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, vanity mirror
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, touchpad control
Lexus NX 300h, 2017, interior

LEXUS is revamping two of its core models with updates to its CT hatchback and NX SUV ranges.

Both are getting new look fronts featuring the pronounced Lexus grille with restyled headlamps while inside there's some new software and extra trim options.

Changes are also being made to the ride, especially on the NX line up which has been bolstered to reduce body roll when cornering.

Comfort levels are also being improved with added cabin insulation to reduce noise levels inside.

Between them, the two cars account for more than half of Lexus' sales in Europe and the new look brings them in line with the Japanese premium brand's new image first seen on the sexy looking LC coupe earlier in the year.

The two ranges are now hybrid only with Lexus dropping its turbo petrol engine option and starting prices are rising slightly to £23,495 for the CT 200h and £34,895 for the NX 300h.

As such, Lexus is keeping the pair competitive against the likes of the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3 in the case of the CT and Land Rover's Discovery Sport, the Range Rover Evoque and a host of other medium sized SUVs when it comes to the NX.

Hybrid power is a Lexus speciality in the posh car league and it gives the brand some clout when it comes to fuel economy.

The petrol/electric combination results in a theoretical 74.3mpg with emissions of just 88g/km for the CT 200h and 54.3mpg (121g/km) for the SUV.

Real world figures are always going to be different and while it is possible to achieve considerable fuel economy - especially around town - we saw averages of 39mpg for the hatchback and 36 to the gallon for the NX when driven on the open road.

The latest generation of hybrids - which don't have to be plugged in to keep their charge - can travel for significant spells on battery power alone and in general will cover around a third of the mileage in zero emission electric mode.

With CVT gearboxes there is still some surge under acceleration and although sport as well as eco modes are available, driving is more mainstream than anything else.

The NX 300h is fitted with paddle shifters for sequential changes which gives some added bite from its 2.5-litre engine with 197bhp on tap. The CT 200h has a 1.8-litre block developing 136bhp.

However, the smaller and lighter hatchback matches the more powerful SUV for speed with a maximum of 112mph and is only a second off the NX 300h's 0 to 60 acceleration time of 9.2 seconds.

With a foot operated parking brake as opposed to the electric release on the NX, the CT is not quite as sophisticated but it is certainly premium kit with smart trim, quality upholstery and both models can be fitted with a 10.3-inch oblong shaped display screen.

On the NX the new models also come with a touchpad control zone in the centre console, full smartphone connectivity and wireless charging.

On the convenience side, the NX retains its pop out vanity mirror which stows neatly in the console and has proved a popular feature.

All but the entry level CT models now come with Lexus Safety System + technology which includes anti-dazzle LED headlamps, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Adaptive cruise control is also fitted, operating at all speeds on the NX and above 25mph on the CT.

With the CT having been around since 2011 and the NX from 2014 the upgrades bring the pair right up to date in a market which has gone crossover crazy.

Their USP will always be hybrid power and in this day and age where electrification of vehicles is a must - that's job done.

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