Driven: Lexus CT 200h F-Sport
In the UK, this instantly became the biggest-selling Lexus, accounting for half of the marque’s sales despite not having a full year in showrooms. For 2012, Lexus sought to bring its newcomer in line with the rest of the segment by introducing an F-Sport trim and, more recently, making the rest of the range a lot easier to understand.
Sports styling isn’t something manufacturers can afford not to offer. Audi has had big success with its S line models – 40% of new A3 sales are predicted to be in this specification – and the latest 1 Series and A-Class have followed suit, as has Volvo with the V40 R-Design. Although F-Sport models don’t get any extra straight line performance, this one trim level allows Lexus to match its rivals’ model ranges. Not a niche to miss.
F-Sport models gain an aggressive bodykit, most noticeable at the front where its side air scoops have grown in size, lower suspension and the familiar fanblade wheels painted in anthracite grey. Inside, there are dashes of aluminium on the dashboard and a set of comfortable, supportive sports seats to set it aside from the rest of the range. It’s a very complementary package.
Though it’s easy to dismiss it as a style over substance model, especially as the Lexus is unique in its lack of an actual high performance version, the makeover is enough to put this on the map with buyers who may not have considered the brand before. Closer looks won’t put them off, either. It’s typically Lexus, beautifully built and with excellent materials used throughout, and those stepping up from a Prius will find this is a much more refined car at high speeds.
The drawback is that hybrid is a sideways shift from the familiar low-CO2 diesels buyers would most likely otherwise be looking at. This is a fine motorway cruiser, but even in Sport mode it’s not an exciting drive. What the small oil burners lack in power, they tend to make up in mid-range thrust and the control of a manual gearbox against the Lexus’s rev-happy continuously variable unit.
Like the CT itself, F-Sport couldn’t have come soon enough. This should be a key asset for attracting new, younger buyers into showrooms and, with a new range structure recently introduced, it’s easier for them to work out what they want. They won’t be disappointed when they get behind the wheel.
F-Sport is a vital addition to all Lexus models, but perhaps nowhere moreso than in the CT 200h. This isn’t as lively or as much fun as some of the low-carbon diesels, despite the higher power output, but it’s as long-legged and efficient a motorway cruiser as most buyers will ever need.
Segment: Lower medium
Type: Petrol-electric hybrid
Electric range: 1.5 miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 94g/km
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