“Its got the Prius engine… it CAN’T be sporty!”
I’m sick of people, including reviewers; slapping good handling cars around if they happen to be hybrids. Yes, it’s sluggish off the line compared to many regular sporty cars – but it’s quicker than you think.
Let me explain: The Lexus CT200h has the same 1.8-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine that produces 98 horsepower. Add to that an 80-hp electric motor and you get a combined output of 134 horsepower. It’s not scintillating, especially when you think of how fast other approximately 1 ½ ton vehicles can go. The best 0 to 60 mph times were around 10.5 seconds at about 5,200 feet elevation.
The CT200h is based on Toyota’s ‘MC’ platform which underpins one of TFLCar’s best sporty cars for the money, the 2011 Scion tC – among others. That’s a badass car! Struts in the front and a trailing-arm multilink rear suspension pin the CT200h to the ground nicely. It’s not Porsche, but the CT200h is downright fun in the corners.
I scared a tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, REM-loving passenger who thought I was a driving thug after a ride. (Insert evil laugh here) It corners, baby.
Spend a week or two with this Lexus and you will figure out how to outfox the über sensitive traction control system which will make your cornering much more enjoyable. It’s a question of knowing where you stand with the beautifully weighted steering system and its interpretation of the road. You see, it’s completely simulated and there is no real road feel. Still, the effort and accuracy of the steering is excellent.
I flew through a curvy, challenging mountain pass in about the same time I did it in a Camaro RS V6 a few months back.
Yes, I dislike continuously variable transmissions and this one is no exception; however, rotate the control knob to “sport” and everything feels quicker. It’s not that much quicker, but it feels quicker. Everything feels tighter, sportier and it makes for a more invigorating ride. If you need to mellow out on the highway, there is a radar controlled cruise system, comfy sports seats, nice sound system and a smooth ride.
It’s a hatchback, so despite the low roof – there’s lots of cargo room.
Dipsticks like me want more rumbles in their ride. The Lexus CT200h will let in just enough shimmy to transmit through my big booty to my small brain providing that sporty feel. It really is a sporty ride with a hint of luxury. The fake leather (NuLuxe – in Lexus tongue) is soft, squishy and comfortable – but leather-loving folk will notice the difference.
Not all is peaches and cream.
I like the low-cut appearance as it is WAY better than that other Lexus hybrid… can’t seem to remember its name. Some of the colors are as polarizing as Snookie at a librarian’s convention. My tester is “Daybreak Yellow Mica,” and it looks like raunchy mustard yellow at a color orgy. Roman Mica (TFLCar’s Auntie Mame) is regretting that his last name has anything to do with that color.
And where the HELL is the parking brake?
On the floor you say?
I know there’s technical, packaging and economical reason the E-brake simply MUST be on the floor – but it’s too much for my wee little brain to understand.
Pull-with-the-hand = sporty, push-with-the-foot = boring.
At a base price of $29,120, that friggin’ good for a Lexus hybrid – but you have to get the more expensive “Premium package” to simply be allowed to get things like navigation, LED headlights and a zillion other toys. So, when you pony up for the base model, there’s little if anything you can customize it with. If you get the top of the line model and all of the toys, you’ll be looking at about $41,000 and change.
The value quotient isn’t that bad. The “cool” quotient is even better. Let me put it this way: roll to a bad-ass, hard-rockin’ club in a Prius, Insight or Leaf and you’ll be laughed out of the parking lot. That’s not the case with the Lexus CT200h.
The bottom line for me was the fact that there was a smattering of personality that has been sorely missing from just about every hybrid I’ve tested. That means a lot to people who value some spice to an otherwise humdrum commuter. There is something special about this car and it’s the FIRST hybrid I would not be totally averse to having a relationship with.
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE.
BTW: Check out the video below as we compare new and old Luxury by driving the Lexus head to head with a Cadillac.