It’s sporty. It’s fun. It’s a hybrid. A luxury hybrid by Lexus.
After driving several hybrid electric vehicles in the last six months, they’re not fun to drive. I love the roar of engines on the open road. In most hybrids, there is no engine roar, as speed and acceleration are sacrificed for fuel efficiency. Comfort is almost secondary in hybrid electric vehicles.
Driving the 2012 Lexus CT 200h changed that concept. While there was no roaring engine, the luxury comforts in the Lexus 4-door hatchback certainly made the week long road test enjoyable. Just driving up to the car, you could see the bright Daybreak Yellow Mica finish a block away and with a colour that vivid, it screams, “Look at me, I’m fun!”
Step one in making hybrid cars more fun to drive: Give them crazy colours. The people I ran into either hated or loved the colour and there was no middle ground. The luxury styling added to the high rate of head turns from fellow drivers and the “Lexus nod” from a couple Lexus owners.
Jumping into the driver’s seat, I instantly noticed the premium styling of this luxury hybrid starting off with the refined leather interior, baseball stitching of the steering wheel, leather seats, front rim of the dashboard and along the edges of the centre console.
The Lexus CT200h base price starts at $30,950 and available with five different package options. The Touring Package ($32,950) adds a power moonroof and 17” aluminum alloy wheels. The Premium Package ($35,950) upgrades the audio system to a 10-speaker 6-Disc CD changer, auto dimming rear view and side mirrors with a backup camera and rain sensing wipers. The F-Sport Package ($36,350) provides sportier finishes including a mesh grille, and rear spoiler. Throw in the Technology Package ($39,350) and you get a voice activated navigation system with a haptic feedback control, headlamp washers and LED headlamps.
The Lexus CT200h engine features a 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC Atkinson engine coupled with a powerful electric motor and compact hybrid battery that can produce a maximum output of 134hp. Published fuel efficiency rating from Lexus are 4.5/100km in the city, 4.8L/100kms on the highway and 4.6L/100km combined.
There were three different driver control options all accessible by a large knob on the centre console. My favourite was the Sport mode which turned the green-eco dash display to a glowing red tachometer and provides a more power and faster acceleration. The fuel saving EV mode is only available at very low speeds below 40km/hr and instantly disabled during quick acceleration. Eco mode was great for the morning and afternoon commutes and makes driving more efficient.
The engine is remarkably quiet. Even when the gas was pressed to the floor, all I could hear was a higher purring sound coming from the Lexus Hybrid Drive engine.
No engine roar, no squealing tires and a deadly quiet hybrid engine not designed to catch the attention of anyone within earshot. On the other hand, the Daybreak Yellow Mica finish caught everyone’s attention.
As far as other competing vehicles, you could look at the similar hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius V, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and Honda Civic Hybrid. As a 4-door hatchback, don’t forget to include the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Mazda 3 in your comparisons.