Last year, the five-door CT 200h hybrid became the fifth hybrid vehicle to join the Lexus stable, slotting in as the high-value, high-efficiency gateway for younger buyers, along with environmentally conscientious buyers of all ages, looking to enter the Lexus fold. The new 2012 Lexus CT 200h continues to offer incredible fuel economy, superior refinement and remarkable value while broadening the model line with a new limited F SPORT special edition that puts the emphasis on the car’s sporty side.
Reviewers at Autoblog.com called the CT 200h one of the Lexus brand’s “boldest offerings in years.” Bold is broad term. It could refer to the segment-best 43 city mpg delivered by the advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive system powering the 2012 Lexus CT 200h. Bold could also describe the car’s revolutionary interpretation of the brand’s renowned L-Finesse design language, which yields a wind-defying, mpg-raising 0.29 coefficient of drag, comparable to some exotic supercars. An interior that rivals the comfort and elegance of top-flight premium sedans could also qualify as bold, as could a suspension and chassis engineered to defy the sluggish reputation of other hybrids and instill the CT 200h with the driving characteristics of a track-worthy hot five-door.
Lexus sells the five-passenger CT 200h in two versions: The CT 200h (MSRP $29,120) and the CT 200h Premium (MSRP $31,750).
Under the hood, the CT 200h teams a 1.8-liter dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor-generator for a total system output of 134 hp. Power flows to the front wheels through a smooth and compact Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT), which does away with traditional gears to provide seamless power delivery. Drivers navigating urban landscapes are sure to appreciate the instantaneous torque of the electric motor every time they punch the throttle to dart between holes in drive-time traffic. Regenerative Braking helps charge the battery pack by gathering energy generated from the wheels as they slow under braking.
Like all models equipped with the Lexus Hybrid Drive, the CT 200h can operate using power from the gasoline engine, the electric motor or a combination of the two. As mentioned, the 43 mpg city (42 mpg combined) rating for the CT 200h is the best of any vehicle in this segment. Accentuating value, the 1.8-liter engine runs on lower cost Regular Unleaded (87 octane) fuel.
Lexus bills the CT 200h as the compact hybrid that was “engineered to evade stereotypes.” The proof is right there in the fully independent suspension where high-performance components – including a double-wishbone setup in back and Yamaha Lateral Performance Dampers (designed to enhance chassis rigidity while reducing vibrations) – turn the CT 200h into a confident road carver in defiance of the uninspiring handling characteristics of its competitors.
Cars built with a pronounced sporting intent always cater to driver control, and the CT 200h is no different. Mounted on the center console, the Drive Mode selector knob lets you choose between four settings.
At start up, the system defaults to “Normal” mode, the perfect setting for every day driving. “Eco” mode automatically adjusts parameters such as climate-control performance and throttle response to boost fuel economy while “Sport” mode delivers the dynamic driving experience 2 box-design enthusiasts crave with quicker steering and delayed activation of the standard Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control. Choose “EV” mode by pressing a button positioned beside the selector knob, and the CT 200h relies on electric power alone for distances up to one mile.
Catering to the driver carries over to the interior where designers placed and angled the pedals, seat and steering wheel to position the driver as close to the car’s center of gravity as possible. The driver’s seat features 10-way power, lumbar support and pronounced side bolsters for added lateral support under aggressive cornering. Drivers and passengers alike will appreciate the abundance of standard amenities on the entry CT 200h including dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth® connectivity, a six-speaker audio system with a USB/auxiliary port and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a 90-day trial subscription.
The CT 200h Premium heightens the luxury with additional items such as heated front seats and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof. You also gain access to available option packages that include a perforated leather interior, a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice recognition, retractable color LCD display and an integrated back-up camera, a 10-speaker premium sound system with Automatic Sound Levelizer and an in-dash, six-disc CD player.
As a limited model, the CT 200h F SPORT Special Edition takes the Premium model and adds a host of exclusive features meant to enhance the car’s bona fides and especially handling. Highlights include a F SPORT tuned suspension, a larger rear spoiler, F SPORT steering wheel and leather-trimmed shift knob, a black headliner, special Ocean Blue NuLuxe interior and 17-inch, F SPORT 5 Spoke Trident Wheel with Liquid Silver finish.
While high-performance and hyper-efficiency take center stage, safety is served as well. In fact, the CT 200h earned a “Top Safety Pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Credit goes in part to the car’s standard eight airbag Supplemental Restrain System, which includes knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, side-curtain airbags and front seatbelt pretensioners.
Motor Trend magazine pronounced the new 2012 CT 200h “a perfect stepping-stone into the Lexus brand,” one that makes it “easy to forget that you’re driving a hybrid.” Come experience this paradigm-shattering hot hybrid by scheduling a test drive today.