A car seemingly much maligned by the motoring press but having recently sold one after 7yrs of ownership I thought I’d give a summary of what it’s really like.
It’s often described as a posh Prius, almost accurate I suppose as it’s more or less the same running gear, utilising Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain. Fast it isn’t and a lot of criticism is levelled at the CVT gearbox. I found that gentle throttle inputs was where it’s at, do that and the thing just gathers pace fairly effortlessly with minimal fuss. It’s not slow but the figures make it appear slower than it is, I never had a problem joining motorways, overtaking or with steep inclines.
I never bothered with the eco mode and rarely bothered with sport mode either. I just left it in ‘normal’ and let it do its thing with regards to the hybrid witchcraft. You could rarely tell when it was switching from electric to combustion and it became a game around town to try and keep it in electric mode as long as possible.
The good stuff
- The interior.
The cabin was a genuinely nice place to sit. Real leather, comfortable heated seats, bluetooth etc. The switchgear was a bit haphazard in the myriad of different buttons but you soon got used to it and the various controls were very easy to use. The air-con system was very efficient and operated with switches not a touch screen (VW take note).
- The refinement.
It really is a quiet car and you are well insulated from the outside. Motorway journeys were no issue and long distances were a breeze.
- Running costs.
Road tax of £0 pa plus economy averaging around 54-55mpg made it a cheap car to run. Servicing costs were reasonable, made even more palatable by the good value service plans from Lexus. In my 7 years of ownership all it cost me were regular services and a set of tyres. When I sold the car it was still on the original brake disks and pads after 64k miles, mainly due to the re-gen braking system rather than my style of driving.
This I couldn’t believe. as long as it is serviced by Lexus they will extend the warranty for both the car and the hybrid system year on year to a maximum of 10 years or 100,000 miles. It really is peace of mind motoring.
- The dealers
Lexus dealers really seem to be a step above most others. Nothing is too much trouble and you are treated properly regardless of which model, and its age, you own.
The bad stuff
- The infotainment system
Sound quality was fine but in 7 years I never managed to tune a DAB station. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, I just connected my phone via bluetooth and it was fine for music and calls. Occasionally the bluetooth wouldn’t connect first time and this was the car as it happened across a variety of phones. The infotainment system has been left behind by rivals, not surprising really when the car was launched in 2011.
- Odd specifications
The ct200 range is odd in its nomenclature and what comes as standard. Mine was a ‘Luxury’ which gave me leather but no sat-nav. Others in the line up gave you all the toys but no leather. Go figure!
The paint, especially the black, is very soft which is typical of Japanese cars. Keeping it clean to my standard was a pain and you just had to look at it for the paintwork to scratch. I used to do a very minor paint correction with a DA polisher once a year to keep it looking good.
- Interior space
It’s not a big car and probably not big enough for a family. The boot in particular is not that big, being neither deep or long due to the hybrid battery under the floor.
If the car meets your needs in terms of size and you’re looking for a cheap to run but luxury vehicle, that is inherently reliable, then the ct200 is a prime contender. I’d planned to keep it until it died but my needs changed which was the only reason I sold it. I have stayed in the Lexus camp though!
Don’t be put off by the negative press reports, go and have a look and a test drive. Don’t expect it to set your world alight with its performance and handling but do take the time to understand how to drive it, you might be surprised.