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Lexus CT 200 H – Good hybrid technology in smallest Lexus

When Toyota first introduced the hybrid concept in its Prius model some 20 years ago, it was a practical car for the fuel conscious.

Now hybrid technology is appearing in a wide range of vehicles not only for its fuel saving but in some instances to use the electric motors for improved acceleration.

The Lexus CT 200 h is a hybrid and there are three model ranges – the luxury, the sport and the sports luxury.

I drove the Sport model. It is not that sporty but an interesting car none the less.

To tell us more about it I have on the line Brent Davison from the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury.

 

Interview Transcript

David:                  When Toyota first introduced the hybrid concept in the Prius model some 20 years ago, it was the practical car for the fuel conscious. Now, hybrid technology is appearing in a wide range of vehicles not only for its fuel savings, but in some instances, to use the electric motor for improved acceleration.

The Lexus CT 200 H is a hybrid and there are 3 models – the luxury, the sport and the sports luxury. I drive the sport model and it is not that sporty, but an interesting car nonetheless.

To tell us more about it, I have on the line Brent Davidson from the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury. Brent, this is the only small car in the Lexus range. What platform does it fit on?

Brent:                  David, I would take a very, very good stab at this and I’m 99% sure that this car actually platform shares with the European Corolla which is known here as the Auris. So, it’s a Corolla hybrid/Auris hybrid platform.

David:                  If they changed the name from Corolla to Auris in Europe, I’d find that staggering.

Brent:                  Yeah. Toyota was essentially re-launching itself, re-establishing itself, trying to get away from that stodgy reputation that it has in some areas. So, yes, we called it the Auris which is Latin for gold or something for gold and away we went. But wisely, Toyota chose not to change the name in Australia and kept it as Corolla.

David:                  Corolla is part of the plant, I believe.

Brent:                  Yeah.

David:                  But back to the Lexus. It’s got the name sport on the model I drove, but its engine and power put together isn’t huge.

Brent:                  No. Look, sport is a nice name but that is where it stops and finishes. It uses a 1.8 litre engine, at petrol engine I should say. That petrol engine developed a massive 73 kilowatt which we all know isn’t a huge figure. 140 Newton Metres of torque is not a huge figure either.

So, the petrol engine is extremely lazy. But you tie it up with a 100 kilowatt electric engine, electric motor, and you got a thing with a pretty good performance and pretty good fuel consumption as well.

David:                  Yeah. Well, we get the fuel consumption because it drives through a continually variable transmission, doesn’t it?

Brent:                  Oh, yeah.

David:                  That’s meant to help fuel consumption as well.

Brent:                  Not only does it give you infinite gear reactions between a low point and a high point, but it also weighs less the conventional automatic. And, I think, probably a little less than a conventional manual transmission. So, we save a little with the fuel in the weight aspect as well.

David:                  Now, that’s right to that 4.1 litres per 100 kilomtres, you’d be very happy to get that unless you’re driving all the way in the country, with dioxide emissions of 95 grams per kilometre. We were getting round about 5.1 in the city and country driving which I didn’t think was too bad.

Brent:                  You did better than me because I was a bit merciless when I drove the car. And I thought, “We should get some real life work out of this.” And so, I drove it in real life situations and I could only do 5.5. But still you know, 5.5

flogging the daylights out of the thing, you’ve got to be impressed by the thing . Take the Corolla as an example. To do that in a Corolla would’ve given you figures in the low to mid eights.

David:                  Yes.

Brent:                  So, yeah. We’re looking at five and a half, could be eight and a half. You’re saving three litres per 100 kilometres. And that’s not anything to sniff at.

David:                  Does it have the Lexus luxury. How would you put it sitting inside the car?

Brent:                  Yeah, it does have the luxury – the leather upholstery, the nice thick woollen carpets, and the fake wood grain. It is for all intents and purposes a very small luxury car. We can’t take that away from Lexus. The one thing that did get annoyed about my test car though is that they still haven’t managed to get rid of a lot of the road noise it comes through.

It probably speaks volumes to the fact that the engine is very quiet, that there’s not all that much wind noise around the windows and mirrors. So, you’re hearing more of that road noise and you’re probably used to in a car say 10 years ago, 12 years ago.

David:                  Yes. Ride a little firm, the handles are quite well.

Brent:                  Oh, absolutely. I would like to think that Lexus is doing us a favour by giving us ride qualities that align with European cars because not that many European cars are all soft and doughy. But the handling, yeah. No argument there. It’s not going to rate up there along with a Volkswagen Golf or an Audi A3 for example. It is not going to embarrass itself either.

David:                  It’s the third best-selling car for Lexus, the IS which is a medium-sized car, the RX. And then the CT model. It’s about three to four times the sales. The IS out sells it about three or four to one so it’s not too bad. 674 cars so far are sold this year in October 2014. Not rushing through, I’d say.

Brent:                  I’d like to say the numbers are a little higher. What’s helped  here is that on the revamp, Lexus actually dropped one model, Prestige, from the line up to bring it to a three-car line up: the Luxury, the F-sport, and the Sport Luxury and managed to rework the prices. So, the entry level point on the luxury is just under $40,000. So, you can actually jump in to a Lexus model for $40,000.

David:                  Plus on roads. It’s competing in things against the Mercedes A-class, the Audi A3 as you mentioned, the BMW 1 series.  They are certainly outselling it.

Brent:                  Oh, yeah. That comes as no surprise whatsoever. They are tried and true. And Lexus has actually taken a real gamble and you have to say, “Kudos to you for doing it.” They don’t have a conventional petrol engine only alternative. You get a hybrid or you get nothing. That takes a little bit of doing in my book.

David:                  Particularly because if you did have a non-hybrid version, you could sell it through a reduced price.

Brent:                  Oh, yeah. You’d pull $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 out of the price straight up and it would be a nice little thing to bring customers into the showroom. So, we have to give Lexus a little bit of a tap on the back for doing this.

David:                  It’s interesting. You’d think something like Audi would have about ten models.

Brent:                  Absolutely! All of them split by 50cc.  But yeah, you’re right. Audi, when it comes to the German brands particularly, the model stagger is quite astonishing.

David:                  It’s about $40,000 for the luxury. The sport, how much is that?

Brent:                  Sport comes just under $49,000. Again, we’ll go to the nearest point. There’s a $10 difference. $49,000 for the F-Sport. The Sport Luxury goes to $57,000 plus on road costs across the range.

Now, what you have to remember here is that apart from the trim, the nice wheels, the different tyres, the different grade interior, the mechanical package is the same across the whole range. So, that 73 kilowatt petrol engine and 100 kilowatt electric motor, whichever one of the three you buy, that’s what you get.

David:                  Yeah. It comes with some standard luxury features such as cruise control, reversing camera, keyless ignition, dual zone climate control, that’s okay. I’m not quite sure how much extra you get to the top of the range model.

Brent:                  Yeah. I have to say I’m the same, they upgrade the audio system, they upgrade the Satnav system, they upgrade the cruise control. So, what you’re getting is better versions of the same thing. That’s essentially where it stands. Bigger wheels, different tyres.

David:                  I found a little difficulty in getting a clear audio when it’s on this talk station. I don’t do talk back, but I mean more sort of the documentaries and things like that. I just found that a little difficult. How much room did you find in it in the front driving position?

Brent:                  In the front, plenty. I got a very comfortable driving position. My wife, who is not much taller than a Hobbit but doesn’t have a hairy feet , she had more than enough room and she enjoyed driving it. Back seat, not so much.

But we have to remember too that this is not a family Sedan. This is a place in the back for the kids. It’s a small car, it’s that simple. But I have to say, David, that you and I have different styles. I don’t turn the radio on. I just Bluetooth my phone and play the tunes of the phone. I’m hip and cool.

David:                  Well, there is a difference in our   approach of what we get out of the car while driving along. It’s lovely to talk to you. Thank you very much for your time.

Brent:                  David, it’s always my pleasure.

David:                  That’s great. Brent Davidson from the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury where we were talking about the Lexus CT 200 H hybrid car.

 

 

 

Price

  • Luxury $39,990
  • Sport $48,990
  • Sports Luxury $56,990

The mid-range model comes at a $2000 discount to the version it replaces.

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