By Nick Jones
Anyone who sits through the adverts on TV has probably seen diminutive Aussie singer Kylie Minogue sitting behind the wheel of her car whispering the phrase: “Join the quiet revolution.”
The car she is driving in the ad is the Lexus CT200h, one of the marque’s growing menu of hybrid models.
There is no denying that Lexus has embraced hybrid technology but it has always been dressed up in, shall we say, more expensive suits.
But the CT200h seems a little more off the peg.
The car is about the same size as say a 1-Series BMW or the Audi A3, but offers an eco-friendly alternative to the diesels that are the main percentage of the German brands’ make up.
That familiar Lexus badge on the front, the svelte exterior and a pretty rump (the car’s, although Kylie did once win Rear of the Year if I remember rightly) all fall into the Lexus brand genre – cute DNA that carries on through the inside too.
Internally it’s cockpit-like, giving an impression of being in a plane while in fact sitting low to the floor.
All the buttons operate with a quality feel, and the best bit is a mouse control that operates a 7-inch LCD infotainment screen on the dashboard.
It’s all beautifully finished inside too. I’ll stick my neck out at this point and say that in my opinion it’s better inside than the German competition.
Room up-front is fine but the rear does lack for a bit of headroom and, if I want to be picky, I could tell you it does feel a bit claustrophobic, but nothing any child would complain about.
The Lexus CT200h is, as mentioned, a hybrid, and that means batteries, so all-in-all it’s quite an achievement.
Boot space is a healthy 370+ litres thanks to the battery pack sitting somewhere between the rear wheels – and out of sight.
So, push the start button and... nothing... not a sound... very eerie.
That’s because from start-up to speeds to just short of 30mph the car cleverly operates in EV mode, ie, under just electric power.
The main power source, however, is the 1.8-litre VVTi engine lifted from the Prius. The engine delivers a fairly low but adequate 98bhp but the car’s battery driven electric motors add 80bhp, given combined power of 134bhp.
Two driving modes can be used, relaxed or dynamic. It also has a Sport setting that unleashes a few more volts from the batteries to get the car to 60mph in just over ten seconds and on to a top speed of 115mph.
It turns into corners well, with minimal body roll and, thanks to the clever dampers, it doesn’t pitch as much as you’d expect from a car of this nature.
The engine does sound a bit throaty under full throttle and I can guarantee it will not have the mid-range urge a diesel car has, but it’s an accomplished cruiser for sure, and on smooth motorways it really comes into its own.
It can achieve fuel returns well into the 60mpg bracket, and the emissions are quoted at just 94g/km – both remarkable figures I’m sure you’ll agree and, of course, making it exempt from the annual cost of vehicle excise duty.
Standard kit on the Lexus is comprehensive, as are the safety features on-board – to many to mention here.
Pricewise, the fun starts from just £23,750 for the SE-L version, rising to £30,950 for the ‘Premium’ version, which, I presume, has everything on-board.
By comparison, the BMW 1-Series 118d Sport costs about the same money and would probably be slightly better to drive. But the running costs would be higher, it would be nosier, the cabin isn’t as nice and comparing the spec sheet the Lexus would be better value for money. Not only that, residuals are bound to be high on the Lexus with all the technology it has too.
Why am I humming “Can’t Get You Out of My Head...”?