Lexus CT 200h Luxury

Lexus CT200h, front static
Lexus CT200h, side static
Lexus CT200h, front action
Lexus CT200h, front action 2
Lexus CT200h, front action 3
Lexus CT200h, rear action
Lexus CT200h, rear static
Lexus CT200h, rear seats
Lexus CT200h, sat nav
Lexus CT200h, dash detail
Lexus CT200h, dashboard
Lexus CT200h, boot

AN amazing number of people decide their next car without taking a test drive - a bit like buying a house by peering through the windows and not going inside.

Well, the smallest Lexus you can buy would make such a fine first impression you might reach for a credit card without even starting the engine.

Which, if you did, would literally make no noise anyway - the CT 200h is a hybrid machine that relies on silent electric power for gentle progress before a petrol engine cuts in.

You'd be impressed by the obvious precision showing in every corner of the car, helping make it look worth more than its sub-£26,000 asking price.

There's a gentle sense of opulence throughout the interior, where nicely judged alloy-look trim and soft touch plastic mix to provide an all over feel that this is a smart place to while away the miles.

Add £995 worth of leather upholstery and it takes on the ambience of something much dearer.

The outside makes a bit of a statement too, especially that huge radiator grille that helps you identify any approaching modern Lexus from half a mile away.

Before you drive off there's the list of goodies to consider. Standard kit on this Luxury spec model (one up from from the £23,495 CT 200h SE base car) includes heated front seats, parking sensors, navigation with full European mapping and lots of safety systems, plus adaptive cruise control.

Interestingly, the 17-inch alloy wheels that come with the car can be swapped at no cost for smaller 16-inch versions that improve both fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions but might make the Lexus look a little less handsome.

It might also take you only a mile or so on a typically unkept British road to hope that the smaller wheels would improve the ride as well. They probably would; at present things never settle down enough to match the expectations of that lovely interior.

It doesn't take much longer to wish Lexus did not persist with its curious control for programming the satellite navigation. The small moveable pad between the front seats is a poor substitute for the simple rotating wheel favoured (rightly) by the opposition.

Another Lexus feature of long standing is a CVT transmission that used to order the engine to hum annoyingly away if you asked for anything more than a hearse-like getaway.

Thankfully, Lexus has just about banished that nuisance and the CT200h get along well enough, thank you, and in some silence. Those optional smaller wheels might make things quieter still on rougher surfaces, though.

No complaint about economy, even with the more macho alloys attached. The test car showed an encouraging 52.8mpg after several hundred miles of mixed workout.

FAST FACTS

Lexus CT 200h Luxury

Price: £25,995

Mechanical: 134bhp, 1,798cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 10.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 68.9

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 94g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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