It wasn’t all that long ago that motoring luxury only came in large packages. Nowadays, we live in a time of premium hatchbacks. The Lexus CT is a worthy addition to that market. This model stands its ground against those slightly pricier models offered up by its big German rivals. More economical, therefore less sporty, than its competitors, the CT is still quite a tempting option as either a company car or family runaround.
There’s nothing overly dynamic or groundbreaking about the overall exterior look of the CT. It’s a handsome car, no doubt, though somewhat generic. The style is far from ostentatious, especially when compared to the fairly similar build and spec of the Toyota Prius. In its class, the Lexus CT is a modest, more subtle option.
The chassis design is modern and there’s a classiness to it that you might expect from a Lexus – Alan Partridge would be in his element. Of course, later models are a little fresher, as you’d expect. Models from 2017 onwards benefit from a series of minor tweaks made by the manufacturer, both superficially and under the bonnet. As such, the newer CTs are a fair bit easier on the eye.
In its class, the Lexus CT is a modest, more subtle option.
What’s it like to drive?
The Lexus CT only comes with a single engine option. This means you know what you’re getting and that’s a self-charging 1.8-litre petrol hybrid. The CT can easily handle motorway and countryside forays, even if it’s primarily designed for town and city driving.
These high-end Japanese hatches are pretty fleet of foot, with enough get-up-and-go to have you got up and gone wherever and whenever you need. They’re also silky smooth and whisper quiet. What you get is about as gentle a ride as you can hope for, for the price. Sure, there are more engaging, entertaining and exciting cars in the class - few of them are as pleasingly effortless.
It’s primarily designed for town and city driving.
The CT is Lexus’s entry-level model. It still has that high-end finish and feel to the interior. Whether it’s leather, chrome or even plastics, everything feels built to last and put together with care, using top-quality materials.
The design and layout of the dashboard and controls are intuitive and thoughtfully laid out, albeit you could argue the whole thing looks a wee bit dated in certain areas. Forego the basic model for the middle specifications and you can enjoy a ride elevated by plush leather and the driving ease you get with a well-crafted cruise control set-up.
The infotainment system with its seven-inch touchscreen isn’t great, with rivals providing set-ups that are much easier to use. The CT’s is a little clunky, with poor graphics. The interface is possibly the worst thing about the inside of this Lexus.
Drivers and passengers will enjoy plenty of leg and headroom at the front, perhaps ever so slightly at the expense of space at the back.
The newer top-spec CTs boast the enviable Mark Levinson sound systems, which are a real audio treat. Musos looking for incredible sound quality might want to consider forking out that little bit extra to get theirs.
If you’re planning on taking a holiday in the Lexus CT, you’ll want to pack light. The batteries for the hybrid system have forced the designers to create quite a small and shallow boot. So, it’s Speedos, not Bermuda shorts, we’re afraid. Bikinis, not swimming costumes. There is, of course, a lot more space when the back seats are folded down. Even then, the CT can’t compete with its rivals for space.
There’s better news on the cubby hole front. You can keep your chocolate cool in the CT’s air-conditioned glovebox, as well as make use of a fair few handily placed cupholders. There’s also a sturdy and handily lidded central console area that's pleasingly large.
Running costs and reliability
If you’ve been a little underwhelmed by the findings of this Lexus CT review so far, we understand. Hold tight. Here’s where we start gushing a little. The running costs of these cars are seriously impressive. The hybrid engine offers those more cautious and less adventurous drivers a bank account-pleasing 55mpg.
If low running costs aren’t quite enough to make you consider the CT all that seriously, perhaps a little insight into its safety and reliability will be. This model is packed with safety features and is a serious hit with owners, with customer reviews online universally effusive.
What we love
There’s plenty to admire here. Not only is this a mature and lavish-looking executive hatchback, but it’s also incredibly reliable and has safety features galore. Its hybrid engine means the Lexus CT is inexpensive to run, so it has obvious appeal to fleet managers as a company car. Equally, however, it’s a nice alternative for anyone in a town or city who wants saloon luxury to a hatch’s scale.
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If you’ve always wanted a Lexus but could never afford to buy or run one, the CT may well be your way in. The manageable size and pleasing running costs make this luxury hatchback a sensible pick. Drawn towards common sense, efficiency and reliability? Like a centre back defending a viciously struck free kick, the Lexus CT holds its own.
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