Lexus CT200h review

Need a new family car but tired of the same old badges? There's more to the Lexus CT200h than meets the eye, as Michael Palmer finds out

If you’re in the market for a small family car and you’ve got 25 grand or so burning a hole in your pocket, you’re faced with virtually limitless choice.

Natural instinct dictates a trip to BMW, Audi or Mercedes, all of whom will happily exchange your hard-earned for a flash set of wheels and a bonnet full of modern technology. And the likes of Ford and Volkswagen will sell you various models with all the options ticked for that sort of money.

But before you get buried under a stack of brochures, there is another option you may not have considered.

Ever since Toyota looked at Rolls Royce and thought "we can do better than that" its luxury brand, Lexus, has been making flashy German saloons look overpriced and a bit mean on toys.

Earlier this year its new entry model, the CT200h, went on sale in the UK offering buyers the chance to run hybrid technology, in a sensible five-seat configuration, without having to admit to owning a Prius.

Smart if a trifle bland-looking, the CT200h blends nicely into the rest of the Lexus range and, sliding inside, the interior doesn’t let the team down.

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The build quality is excellent, there’s luxurious wood, metal and leather trim and a generous amount of equipment.

It’s underneath where the magic happens, however. An electric motor shifts the CT200h around town silently, and a prod of the throttle wakes up the 1.8 litre petrol engine it’s mated to when you get out on the open road. It’s a great system, and one we’re familiar with – it’s had a few tweaks in this incarnation, but essentially it’s lifted from Toyota’s Prius.

It makes for entertaining in-car screen-based theatrics, too. The on-board computer will, at the touch of a button, happily tell you which of the two engines the car is using, where the power is going and, if you’re braking, whether you’re helping to charge the battery as you drive. It’ll keep the kids entertained for at least five minutes.

However, the Prius was never a particularly quick car, and neither is the CT200h. If pace is your thing, diesels from BMW or Audi are probably a better bet, because 62mph comes up in more than 10 seconds in the CT200h.

Flat out you’ll be doing 112mph which means you’ll be outpaced by almost everything. Including, if you give it some stick, a Kia Cee’d.

The handling is tidy though, body control is excellent and there’s very little wind noise – it’s a refined place to be on long journeys, and with a combined fuel economy figure of 68.9mpg, trips to the pumps will be few and far between.

Executive looks, room for the kids, plenty of toys and excellent green credentials make the Lexus a successful combination of prestige and economy.

It might not be sporty, but it is exempt from the London congestion charge, it’s beautifully constructed and in a sector overcrowded with options, it’s in a class of its own.

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