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The claim is the brand-new CT200h is a sporty hybrid Lexus. Well, call it one out of three. It doesn’t feel sporty, and it isn’t as plush and quiet as a Lexus should be.
Ah well, it’s definitely a hybrid, and the saintly 96g/km CO2 figure will be catnip to company-car buyers as it lines up against the BMW 118d and Audi A3 2.0TDi.
See more pics of the Lexus CT200h
To turn the Toyota Prius powertrain into something sporty was a tall order. The Lexus engineers have modded the electronics and the programming of the power delivery, but it still takes more than 10 seconds to get to 62mph, and sounds wheezy and reluctant as it goes.
A sporty chassis, then? Well, it certainly has a stiff ride and a fair bit of grip, but the steering feels gluey and, anyway, the hybrid drive doesn’t really goad you into pressing on.
But in exchange for the alleged sportiness, there’s a toll. The ride is punishingly busy and disturbed, and the big tyres roar annoyingly at steady speeds. A Lexus really ought to be softer and more peaceful.
So it’s a car with an identity crisis.
In fact, the hybrid powertrain itself is well suitable for the kind of driving most people do when they have a 118d or A3 as their company car: motorways and the suburbs.
At 75mph-odd, the low-rev petrol engine is turning pretty efficiently and the low-drag body saves more fuel. In town, the hybrid system does its best work, and in jams the CT200h runs far more silently than any diesel. So why didn’t they just soften it off and make the chassis match the engine?
Oh and do you think it looks sporty? Me neither.