Lit­tle Lexus comes at a pre­mium

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Fred­eric Manby

LEXUS pro­motes its CT200h as the world’s first small pre­mium car with a hy­bridised elec­tric and petrol power unit.

In size, it is in the Fo­cus/ Golf class, and sold only as a hy­brid ve­hi­cle, though the for­mat would ap­peal with a con­ven­tional en­gine to bring down the price.

With its in­te­grated con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic gear­box and ex­pen­sive bat­ter­ies and mo­tor, this small­est Lexus bows in at £23,485 for the SE-I model (as tested here).

The SE-L model, which adds leather heated seats and park­ing sen­sors, is £25,200, and the SE-L Premier (LED head­lamps, cruise con­trol, power front seats, nav­i­ga­tion, rear park­ing cam­era and Mark Levin­son hi-fi) is £30,635.

The stan­dard car has du­al­zone cli­mate con­trol, push­but­ton start­ing, LED day­time lights, rear pri­vacy glass, ac­tive brake lights, a leather­rimmed steer­ing wheel and rain sen­sors.

My test car was em­bel­lished with me­tal­lic paint (£510) and nav­i­ga­tion (£1,850) which in­cluded speed-limit recog­ni­tion with cur­sor se­lec­tion for the rout­ing, and a 10-speaker au­dio sys­tem with six-disc CD player.

Most peo­ple are fa­mil­iar now with the hy­brid sys­tem of elec­tric and petrol work­ing to­gether to achieve a good bal­ance of power, emis­sions and econ­omy. The CT200h, like the hum­bler Toy­ota Auris hy­brid with which it shares its tech­nol­ogy, emits less than 100g/km of CO2, which makes it free of an­nual road tax and ex­empt from the Lon­don con­ges­tion-zone charges. The to­tal power out­put is 134bhp, with al­most in­stant torque boost when the elec­tric mo­tor kicks in.

Lexus quotes a com­bined fuel av­er­age of 68.9mpg – the same as its ur­ban fig­ure – and ex­tra ur­ban of 70.6mpg.

I took it on a long, long drive and even on a steady mo­tor­way cruise at 70mph, the best av­er­age I saw was 51 miles a gal­lon. Typ­i­cal “run­ning around” was in the 40s.

This is not the first time I have been short-changed by head­line mpg fig­ures. How­ever, as a tax-efficient ve­hi­cle, it at­tracts.

Lexus says: “The ben­e­fits ex­tend to com­pany car driv­ers, who en­joy the low­est, 10 per cent rat­ing for ben­e­fitin-kind com­pany car tax, and for fleet op­er­a­tors, who earn the ad­van­tage of a first-year 100 per cent write-down al­lowance against cor­po­ra­tion tax.”

That ob­vi­ously ap­peals to com­pany driv­ers, but the ev­ery­day costs at the fuel pump, at least in my ex­pe­ri­ence, are not go­ing to im­prove on an ad­vanced diesel en­gine. As an ex­am­ple, I achieved 50mpg in sim­i­lar driv­ing in a bulky 2-litre diesel au­to­matic Chevro­let Or­lando seven-seater. Diesel does cost more per litre and, apart from achiev­ing low CO2 fig­ures, there are un­seen pol­lu­tants with diesel.

On an easy throt­tle, the baby Lexus hy­brid will run on elec­tric power up to 30 miles an hour. True, it will do this for only a hand­ful of miles but it does make it to­tally clean in sen­si­tive ar­eas. You’ll need to have it ser­viced ev­ery 10,000 miles, which is more fre­quent than re­quired by con­ven­tional en­gines.

The quoted 0-62mph time is 10.3 sec­onds and on the road, it keeps up with things, but you have to floor the pedal up­hill, which sends the econ­omy pointer out of the blue zone. This eco scale re­places the tachome­ter on the dash­board.

Top speed is a com­par­a­tively low 112mph. I know – but Ger­mans have some high-speed lim­its and it was sur­pris­ing how of­ten I was over­taken when do­ing 70 on the mo­tor­way by driv­ers in the Toy­ota Prius hy­brid.

In nor­mal driv­ing, it runs qui­etly be­cause the petrol

Mileage ex­pec­ta­tions may be dashed but zero taxes and busi­ness off­sets are com­pen­sa­tion.

en­gine is not asked to work too hard. At low-speed ac­cel­er­a­tion, there is an ini­tial grunt­ing from the driv­e­train. Ride com­fort is good on good roads, rather up­set­ting on the typ­i­cal ur­ban patch­work.

This is, in­ci­den­tally, the first front-wheel-drive Lexus and it will be sold only as a hy­brid, says Lexus.

It has a be­spoke chas­sis and sus­pen­sion and a dif­fer­ent tune of the Auris hy­brid sys­tem, mak­ing it quicker than the Auris hy­brid. It also has to meet stricter Lexus tar­gets, as be­fits a pre­mium brand.

Of in­ter­est, the wheel­base lengths are iden­ti­cal.

Ver­dict: Not cheap. At­tracted in­ter­est. Con­fi­dent styling.

Mileage ex­pec­ta­tions may be dashed but zero taxes and busi­ness off­sets are com­pen­sa­tion.

FRONT-WHEEL FIRST: The Lexus

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