Lexus CT 200h F Sport
A hot hatch for the green generation? I'm not convinced.
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol engine, plus an 82bhp electric battery, 134 bhp (combined hybrid)
Performance: 112mph, 0-62 mph in 10.3 sec, 68.9mpg (combined), CO2 94g/km
It used to be that if you wanted to buy a green car, you had to buy a Toyota Prius Hybrid. Now, there are dozens of cars to choose from - from the fully electric Nissan Leaf and Vauxhall Ampera to the petrol-powered but efficient Fiat Panda and Ford Focus Ecoboost. But what if you want something that's green but also very quick and luxurious. It might seem like a niche market but with the new CT 200h F-Sport, Lexus is trying to fill that gap.
Hang on a minute, you may say, are there really many sandal-wearing hippies out there who want to burn rubber from leather-seated comfort while still saving the planet? Well, Lexus seems to think there are and has taken its standard baby hybrid - the CT 200h - and given it a sporty makeover with a tweaked sports suspension, bling 17-inch alloy, a beefy real spoiler, flared side skirts on the outside, and a flat-bottom steering wheel and aluminium sports pedals inside. It certainly looks very tasty.
So it's a hybrid hot hatch then? Not quite. It might look the business but under the bonnet it's no different to the standard car. That means its hybrid drivetrain results in 94g/km emissions, which means a clean conscience, road tax-free motoring and congestion charge exemption in London, but it is not exciting. It should be fun - it has a combined power of 132bhp on a seamless hybrid/petrol system to play with - but the delivery is dull, there's no manual gear option and the driving dynamics are more walk in the park than track day bruising.
So while boy racers play beat the satnav - racing to your destination before its estimated time of arrival - in the F-Sport, you'll more likely be fixated on gentle cruising (the ride is smooth and it does feel very luxurious inside) and studying the battery and mpg readouts. Lexus claims a combined cycle of 68.9mpg but this is optimistic. The best I managed was 53mpg on a gentle touring route.
That's not too bad really, but the CT 200h will set you back £28k! And that's a big price premium over its non-hybrid rivals. You could save £4,000 and go for the basic model or even opt for the Toyota Auris Hybrid which is a full £8,000 cheaper. And here's the killer for the F-Sport - it actually shares the same powertrain as the Auris (Toyota owns Lexus). The "Lexus character" is simply inserted by upping the electric motor's voltage in Sport mode. It's a nice little car to cruise around in gentle, near-silent, comfort but it's no hot hatch and it's not cheap. If you really want to save the planet, save your money and get an Auris instead.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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