2014 Lexus CT 200h

While I am loathe to directly quote a press release, I’m doing so here to make a point: “In 2007, the F brand launched with IS F, a super sedan that catapulted the Lexus brand onto tracks and into driving purists’ hearts with a specially built 416 horsepower V8, track-tuned chassis and street-dominating attitude. “Then came the Lexus LFA, a V10-powered supercar that sent a 552 hp, carbon-fiber shockwave through the world’s top sports car echelon.” And: “The ‘F’ stands for Fuji Speedway, where Lexus conducts much of its high-speed development.

While I am loathe to directly quote a press release, I’m doing so here to make a point:

“In 2007, the F brand launched with IS F, a super sedan that catapulted the Lexus brand onto tracks and into driving purists’ hearts with a specially built 416 horsepower V8, track-tuned chassis and street-dominating attitude.
“Then came the Lexus LFA, a V10-powered supercar that sent a 552 hp, carbon-fiber shockwave through the world’s top sports car echelon.”

And:

“The ‘F’ stands for Fuji Speedway, where Lexus conducts much of its high-speed development. It could also stand for fun, as defined by three key elements: response, a continuous-acceleration feeling, and a sound that excites.”

The 2014 Lexus CT 200h in question here is the “F Sport” model.

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Mind you, it is not a CT 200hF. But it has “F” accoutrements. Well, at least the grille is different than the ordinary model. There is a sport-tuned suspension. It rides on 17s. The steering wheel and shift knob are leather covered. And there is a nice F badge. Etc.

· Super sedan.

· Super car.

· Fuji Speedway.

· CT 200h.

As they say in those quizzes: “What doesn’t belong?”

The CT 200h is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

Mind you, I really like the CT 200h, which, in the event you don’t know, is a hybrid. It has a 98-hp, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that’s mated to the motors of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system for a total system output of 134 hp.

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In “Redline” exterior paint, with black NuLuxe seats (a material that is not leather but seems like leather), and the huge aluminum pedals, it looks like a hot hatch.

But even if you turn the dial to the “Sport” mode (the other options are “Normal” and “Eco,” and there is a separate button that allows long-speed, short-distance EV travel), even though it adjusts throttle and steering response, you are not going to think to yourself, “Damn, this is a car that I just can’t wait to get to the nearest racetrack—if I don’t get a speeding ticket on my way there!”

In all honesty: while coming to speed on I-275 here in the Detroit metro, I became a bit discomfited. It got there, eventually, and then sailed right along, but if it is acceleration you’re looking for, perhaps the IS F is what you’re looking for—in fact, you might not even need to get to the IS F, as the 306-hp IS350 is plenty responsive (and you can get the F SPORT package for this, too, and really end up with a more credible car in the “super” category).

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The remarkable part about the CT 200h is the miles per gallon performance, which I found to be better than that listed on the window sticker. I got 45 mpg without turning the nob to “Eco.” The sticker says a combined 42 mpg, so that’s certainly nothing to sniff at. While in recent months gas prices have remained fairly stable—and it should be noted that the car takes regular—and so people have generally thought that opting for a hybrid may not be worth it, two points:

1. Hybrid or not, the CT 200h is a nice car in that compact luxury category.

2. Do you honestly think that gas prices are going to continue to be low, or do you think that maybe, just maybe, if there is a war in the Middle East things may change pronto?

If you’re looking for a small, luxury hatch—and admittedly, there aren’t a whole lot of people in the U.S. for whom that statement has any relevance, as “luxury” and “hatch” seem to be words that can’t come together—then the CT 200h could be just the thing.

As to whether you’d opt for the F version or not—and the F additions look good, but the performance. . .not so much—is a matter of taste and perspective.

Mind you, Lexus not the only luxury brand that offers this sort of kit for cars that are not going to leave the person in the lane next to you shaking their head at the alacrity with which you get away when the signal turns green, but the CT 200h play is really about really good fuel efficiency. While there are plenty of other hybrids available, realize that you can count the ones that have a specific body style pretty much on one hand (and if you take the Prius variants out, you’ve got fingers left over).

This one is well done, indeed.

Selected specs

Engine: 1.8-liter DOHC four

Horsepower: 98 @ 5,200 rpm

Materials: Aluminum block and heads

Motor/generator: 650-V

Total system output: 134 hp

Transmission: electronically controlled continuously variable

Steering: Electric power steering

Wheelbase: 102.4 in.

Length: 171.2 in.

Width: 69.5 in.

Height: 57.3 in.

Coefficient of drag: 0.29

Seating capacity: 5

EPA passenger volume: 86.1 cu. ft.

EPA cargo volume: 14.3 cu. ft.

EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 43/40/42 mpg