Lexus: 2014 CT200h Limited vs F Sport review

Lexus: 2014 CT200h Limited vs F Sport review

The road from Whatipu to Titirangi is narrow, bumpy and changes direction like a gazelle trying to outrun a cheetah. We were in the CT200h F Sport and my partner said to me that she was feeling sleepy, and the problem was with my ‘smooth driving’, the comfortable seats and the lack of noise from the Lexus. This Lexus makes your driving seem better than it is: the thing it excels at is turning the road into a muffled silk ribbon like I am the world’s best chauffeur.

Lexus CT200h F Sport 2014 front quarterThe main problem is that, with the CT200h, that’s its only strength as most other cars in the price range are dynamically much better. But if what is important to you is quiet, unflustered driving in comfortable seats and you don’t need things like power or boot space, there’s not much to fault with it.

Of course, you get the Lexus badge which does come with some cachet but I do want some power, and those batteries eat into the boot space like someone has placed a large suitcase in there already – only 375 litres remain. There’s not even any room in the glovebox. Except for a pair of gloves. Maybe two pairs of gloves if you have some hydraulic equipment to force them in.

Lexus CT200h F Sport 2014 front interiorAs the smallest car in the Lexus range, and the only hatchback, you can be assured of easier parking than in some of the larger sedans (especially with the useful reversing camera on the large dashboard-mounted screen), but it’s still a heavy car, and that challenges the petrol and electric motors which end up feeling like they’ve only just woken up when you want them to move off the line.

The petrol motor brings 73kW to the party, and when you add the electric motor into the punch bowl it equates to 100kW.

This is less than a Corolla, and it feels like it. This does add to the feeling of smoothness though, because you can’t perform any neck-snapping, full-throttle shenanigans, and when you do mash the right pedal into the carpet the CVT gearbox masks any Lexus CT200h F Sport 2014 instruments 2changes giving a smooth gain of momentum.

The vehicle will run in EV mode, just sipping electrons, at up to 50kph. There are three modes to choose from: Eco, which adjusts throttle response and other settings in the car for optimal efficiency; Normal, which gives a standard throttle response; and Sport which turns the dashboard lighting red and changes the hybrid meter into a tachometer. Sport liberates maximum power between the electric and petrol motors.

Lexus CT200h F Sport 2014 reversing cameraI have a problem with the quoted fuel economy, too. Lexus quotes 4l/100km yet there is absolutely no way you will achieve anywhere near this without creating an obstacle to other drivers. Driving is about being courteous, and that means pulling away at the lights without holding people up, driving on the open road so that you are making progress and not dawdling along causing an obstruction. The fuel economy I achieved, while trying to be as frugal as practical, was 6.7l/100km for the F Sport which was a mixture of motorway and open road driving, and 5.6l/100km for the Limited which did a run from Auckland to Rotorua and

Lexus CT200h F Sport 2014 phone holderback, plus a mixture of around town and motorway driving. This isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near the 4l/100km that Lexus quotes.

Safety features abound particularly on the Limited which has the Pre-Crash Brake Assist which will brake automatically if it detects a crash is all but unavoidable to try to minimum harm to the vehicle occupants. All vehicles in the range come with traction control (there’s not enough power to need it), ABS, VSC (vehicle stability control), eight air bags (including a knee airbag for both the driver and front passenger, which is certainly not common at the moment). The CT200 comes with a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating.

Lexus CT200h F Sport 2014 rear quarter 2Both of them run on some tidy-looking 17-inch wheels sporting 215/45R17 tyres, but the F Sports body kit has the edge over the Limited.

There are three models in the range and we tried two: the mid-range CT200 F Sport and the range-topping CT200 Limited.

The difference in equipment is that the Limited gets LED headlights with auto levelling, LED foglights, leather seats, wood trim, heated steering wheel, Mark Levinson 13-speaker audio system with satellite navigation, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and pre-crash safety system.

The F Sport gives more visual changes with its aero body kit and different wheels, plus a unique shock absorber setup.

I ended my two weeks with these two Lexus models just a little disappointed. On one hand I can see the appeal because as hatchbacks go, the CT200h is probably the quietest and most comfortable that you can get, certainly for this money, but when a truly excellent Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline Auto is available for sixteen grand less (and quotes 4.4l/100km fuel economy), does it make sense?

In my opinion it’s a flawed proposition because performance is sluggish, and you are paying a premium for a small boot and fuel economy which, while reasonably good is, in the real world, not significantly better than many diesels (and some petrol-only models).

Price: $59,995 for the F Sport, or $69,995 for the Limited.

Pros

  • Very quiet
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Tiny glovebox
  • Small boot
  • Feels sluggish off the line


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