Lexus CT 200h (2014 - 2017)


Models Covered

(5dr hatch 1.8 petrol/electric hybrid [S, SE, Advance, Luxury, F-Sport, Premier])


Back in 2010, Lexus launched its first compact model, the CT200h. By 2014, it was time to spruce the car up a little and if you’re looking for this premium hatch on the used market, it could be worth stretching to one of these facelifted models as handling, trim and styling were all improved as part of the package of changes.

The History

Rewind back to the beginning of the 21st century’s second decade and look at the market for compact hatches with premium badges and you’ll find that only one car stood against the tide of diesel-powered models; this one, the petrol/electric hybrid Lexus CT200h. The car had been launched back in 2010 and was updated in 2014 to create the model we’re going to look at here.

You might think that by driving a diesel model with its impressive fuel consumption and low CO2 returns, you’re doing your bit for the planet. The reality though, is that you’re pumping harmful NOx gases into the atmosphere. Until all-electric power becomes more viable, a hybrid engine is arguably the best alternative the motor industry can offer to this scenario.

Of course, Lexus was never going to make much of an impact on rivals by simply playing the green card and slapping shinier badgework on a Prius. Owners in this segment tend to be younger and want a more dynamic drive. So the CT200h development team tried to give it to them, but went a bit too far with the original model launched in 2010, creating a car with an over-firm ride that put people off.

There were also objections to the quirky styling and the thrashy CVT auto gearbox, that transmission hardly helping refinement standards that weren’t very Lexus-like. Underneath all of these issues though, lay a very effective piece of automotive design that with a little extra finesse, Lexus thought might exactly suit the prevailing economic mood in its segment. That was what the brand set out to deliver with the much improved CT200h model it launched in 2014, the car we’re going to look at here. It sold until further revisions were made to the range at the end of 2017.

What To Look For

Lexus has a great reputation for reliability, which largely the CT200h has been able to uphold, though inevitably, in the course of our ownership survey, we did come across a few issues that you’ll need to look out for on the test drive. There were reports of various trim rattles and several sunroof issues regarding incorrect fitment. The navigation system has been known to annoyingly re-boot itself after an initial start. And one owner found that the low fuel light was coming on too early.

More seriously, one owner found the right hand side of the dash displaying a ‘Check Hybrid System’ warning message, after leaving the car for ten days. This, it turned out, was caused by hybrid battery pack deterioration and needed a change of the entire hybrid battery to properly fix. Otherwise, hybrid system issues tend to be rare. The Toyota Prius (which uses the same drivetrain package) has earned a reputation as a car that can soak up hundreds of thousands of miles. The CT200h can do likewise. It just feels better while doing so. What else? Well some owners complained about high servicing costs but otherwise, dealerships were roundly praised. Obviously, check for a fully stamped-up service record.

On The Road

In an attempt to distance this Lexus from its Prius donor model, the engineers saddled the earlier version of this CT200h with a rather over-firm set of suspension responses, resulting in ride quality so firm, it could sometimes verge on being unpleasant. Nor was the car itself as quiet as its near silent hybrid powerplant, an issue exacerbated by a thrashy CVT auto gearbox that sent revs shooting skywards every time it was required to shift out of its comfort zone. It was all very un-Lexus-like.

Fortunately, the package of small but significant changes made with the 2014 model year facelift package made quite a difference here. A programme of spot welding, mostly around the tailgate, improved body rigidity enough for the suspension spring rates to be loosened up a bit, without sacrificing the neat, precise cornering demeanour that the few driving enthusiasts prepared to consider this car wouldn’t want to lose. The result is a more absorbent ride that some original owners decided to further improve by exchanging the standard 17-inch wheels fitted to most models for the optionally smaller 16-inch rims. Ride quality can be further enhanced if you’re able to stretch to the F Sport variant, which comes as standard with clever lateral body dampers intended to filter out structural shocks from the bodyshell.

Of course, the extent of this CT200h model’s original dynamic imperfections couldn’t be changed completely by a mere facelift package. Vague steering and that lethargic CVT gearbox are just two of the reasons why this Lexus can’t match its German rivals through the twisty stuff. You’ll find the brakes a bit sharp too to begin with. To be fair, few of these drawbacks will manifest themselves on the smooth motorway journeys that will probably occupy owners across the majority of their mileage. It’s here that the light steering becomes a boon rather than a drawback and it’s here too that you can revel in the beautiful cabin and peerless refinement that in this facelift model was improved with no fewer than 94 detailed sound-deadening measures. Plus transmission re-calibrations reduced the gearbox’s thrashiness. In other words, post-2014 versions of this model were more Lexus-like. More the kind of car you’d want and expect the CT200h to be.


The typical middle management executive wants refinement, low running costs and a prestigious, quality feel. And if he or she can get all that bound up in a properly eco-friendly package, then so much the better. In offering all of these things, the CT200h makes an awful lot of sense if you’re fed up with the default German choices in this segment. If you can find a good one, you may well find it a compelling package. On the balance sheet. And in your driveway.