“The takeaway point for this luxury hybrid is don’t expect performance in regards to horsepower or acceleration – that’s not what the Lexus CT 200h is all about.”

In 2004, I had the pleasure of testing the Toyota MR2 Spyder in California.

This particular model never made it to Canadian dealerships – it just looked so cool under the hot SoCal sun.

But appearances can be deceiving. The mid-engine, rear-wheel drive drop top had a scant 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-100km/h acceleration time came in at 7.0 seconds.

Needless to say, it looked much faster than it really was. Flash forward to 2015.

The Lexus CT 200h, with its spindle grille and F SPORT designation has all the right design cues to intimidate the hot hatchback class. And it looks fast but as I said, appearances can be deceiving.

I often had this memo pop up: “EV Mode deactivated excessive acceleration,” despite barely hitting 20 km/h. Hmmmm.

The takeaway point for this luxury hybrid is don’t expect performance in regards to horsepower or acceleration – that’s not what the Lexus CT 200h is all about.

Its 1.8L, 4-cylinder engine combined with the electric motor produces a net 134 horsepower, which is then paired with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT.)

Granted, it’s a hybrid so that kind of performance isn’t its biggest selling feature.

What you can expect is fantastic fuel performance and a vehicle you might really enjoy driving. I know I did. Fuel economy results are estimated at 5.5L/100km in the city, 5.9L/100km on the highway and a combined 5.7L/100km.

That’s impressive.

With a base MSRP of $31,000 it’s not astronomically more expensive than a Prius (MSRP of $26,205), the family member upon which it’s based.

But it does look a whole lot better. Helping it look even sassier is the F SPORT package (an additional $9,000), you have styling cues like its F SPORT front grille, rear spoiler and scuff plates-more commonly referred to as side skirts or side sills.

Inside you’re treated with F SPORT leather seats and steering wheel, navigation, a backup camera, aluminum sport pedals with rubber inserts and more.

The CT 200h operates in four drive modes: Normal, Sport, ECO and EV. Don’t get too excited about the Sport mode, that’s all I’ll say. But there is still noticeable pep to it even if you’re only working with 134 Lexus Hybrid Drive horses.

Fuel results aside, the CT 200h has more than good looks going for it. As of the 2014 model year, it features a quieter cabin environment, thanks to 94 specific measures taken to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

The cabin is inviting and bright. The power moonroof (included in the F SPORT package) helps with this. You can even load five people inside and still have 405L of trunk space to work with.

Also, I had no problems with lowering the rear seats to put my road bike inside.

The CT’s compact body also makes it ideal for urban driving, especially when trying to fit into the absurdly small parking spaces in underground parkades.

While the centre stack isn’t the most visually appealing – I think Lexus could do a much better job – it is highly functional, and I love the Display Audio Controller; a funky little joystick that allows you to select various vehicular functions.

Then there are the front and rear performance dampers that give an extra kick of enthusiasm to the overall handling capabilities of this hatch. It makes the ride stiffer, so if you’re looking for a car that glides over road imperfections, perhaps this trim isn’t the best for you.

Nevertheless, it’s far more engaging to drive than a Prius. With the optional equipment, destination charges and such, the price as tested (excluding taxes) jumps to $42,122.90.

Visit www.lexus.ca for more information.

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Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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