Lexus CT 200h Luxury

Lexus CT200h, front static
Lexus CT200h, front action
Lexus CT200h, front action 3
Lexus CT200h, side static
Lexus CT200h, rear action
Lexus CT200h, rear static
Lexus CT200h, dashboard
Lexus CT200h, rear seats
Lexus CT200h, boot
Lexus CT200h, front action 2

TWO things struck me when the Lexus CT 200h was delivered to my door.

The first was the dramatic appearance with the new two-tone paint job - in this case a black body with a silver (officially called titanium) roof - and the second was the price of the car.

As Lexus is the upmarket division of Toyota this is normally reflected in the cost of its models and I was expecting a £35,000-plus price tag.

But the £25,995 price on the delivery sheet showed I was, unusually, way wide of the mark.

A Lexus - and a hybrid Lexus at that - for less than £26,000 has to be good news for buyers and came as distinct surprise to a number of people I mentioned it to.

The CT 200h, the world's first luxury hybrid hatchback, underwent a makeover for 2018 and the new models are easy to spot thanks to the addition of that huge, macho Lexus grille.

Restyled headlights and rear lights as well as a number of interior changes also mark out the new editions.

Despite the modest - for a Lexus - price the CT 200h comes with all the qualities of its larger and much more expensive siblings.

Build quality is excellent with impressive leather seating - in this case in cream - chunky switches and dials and doors which close with the gentlest of actions.

The centre set navigation screen has now been enlarged from seven to 10.3 inches making it far easy to view when a quick glance is necessary because of busy roads.

The whole thing is controlled by a mouse on the centre console which can be a bit fiddly but you soon get used to it.

This self-charging hybrid is powered by a 1.8-litre petrol engine working in tandem with a 60kW, 81bhp electric motor and mated to a CVT gearbox, the combination of which ensures refined almost silent power.

You can hear the engine when you put it under pressure with a firm right foot but under normal conditions the cabin remains remarkably quiet.

It's a car which is never going to win any traffic lights burn up but at the same time is never really found wanting. If you need that extra power you can switch from Normal mode to Sport so both engine and electric motor are working at full capacity.

As you make the change the left hand dial which normally shows whether the car is being driven economically or under power morphs into a rev counter.

Under light acceleration the engine cuts out and the car runs for brief periods entirely on electric, the result of which in my case meant a car which never averaged less than 60 miles per gallon over a week of driving.

I liked the nice positive steering of this car and - while it's not designed as a sporting hatchback - the way it handled corners at speed in a completely unruffled manner and with no body roll while still offering the ride comfort you would expect of a Lexus.

And when it comes to reversing a sharp colour rear view camera makes things simple, aided by two tiny windows on each rear corner.

The boot is not the largest around at 375 litres but with the seat backs down that jumps to a spacious 985 litres and not everyone will like the foot operated parking brake - presumably fitted to satisfy the American market - but that apart the CT 200h is a car it's hard not to like.

FAST FACTS

Lexus CT 200h Luxury

Price: £25,995

Mechanical: 98bhp, 1,798cc, 4cyl petrol engine 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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