A luxury hatchback model from Lexus should soon be claiming the best environmental credentials in the burgeoning market for premium compact cars.
Boasting tailpipe emissions of only 96g/km, the brand’s first foray into the C-sector will also square up to its pacesetting BMW and Audi rivals with superior running costs, BIK tax ratings and equipment levels.
The only car in the sector with hybrid power, the CT 200h promises to revive the fortunes of Toyota’s prestige nameplate when it arrives in March, believes product manager Paul Vecchioni.
“This model has the potential to effectively double our UK sales, which have languished over the past three years,” he said.
“Our total volume is expected to reach only 6,800 units this year, so the 6,000 additional CT registrations we are anticipating in the next full year will be a big boost.
“This car should drive us back to a more justifiable level of operation. As we rate the profitable annual volume of
Lexus to be between 10,000 and 12,000 units, it could not have come at a better time – it is crucial to our business.”
Capable of 68.9mpg, the entry-level car uses a fresh platform but borrows its 1.8-litre engine, electric motor and CVT from the Toyota Prius.
Combined output of 136bhp is lower than the BMW 118d and Audi A3 2.0 TDI it will be pitched against, but its CO2 performance means it’s free from road tax and is taxed at 10% for BIK.
Priced from £23,485 including VAT at 20%, the SE-I sits on 17-inch alloys, has dual-zone climate control, LED daytime run-ning lights, rain-sensing wipers, a six-speaker audio system and rear privacy glass.
At £25,200, the SE-L adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and front and rear parking sensors and the £30,635 Premier version includes self-cleaning LED headlights – unique in the segment – cruise control, smart entry, power-adjust seats, sat- nav, a rear parking monitor and 13-speaker premium audio.
Options include pre-crash safety gadgetry, adaptive cruise control and a unique lateral damping system.
Though not as rapid as rivals in auto form, the CT still reaches the benchmark 62mph in a fraction over 10 seconds.
A class-leading Cd figure of 0.28 contributes to making progress quiet and relaxed at all times, but suspension that combines surefooted roadholding with a comfortable ride also promotes an overtly sporty feel.
Noticeably more refined than in Toyota applications, its engine generates even less noise overall and remains unobtrusive even when flooring the accelerator sends it spinning to more than 5,000rpm during overtaking manoeuvres.
As in the Prius, the CT has normal, eco and EV driving modes, but instrument panel lighting changes from blue to red in the Sport position.
Offering high-level comfort for four, the CT provides adequate head and legroom in the rear for six-foot occupants and as its battery is partly located under the back seat, luggage space extends from 375 litres to 985 litres with the 60-40 split backrest folded flat.
The CT 200h gives fleets an additional upmarket option in the compact premium car sector and low tax liability should also make it appealing to drivers.