Why The Lexus CT Is Still Everyone’s Favourite Hybrid Hatchback
When it comes to hatchback vehicles, there’s no shortage on the market. But what about hybrid hatchbacks? The most famous example of such a vehicle is the Toyota Prius. Of course, not everyone is keen on its styling or features.
The good news is there’s one car that is a firm favourite in the hybrid hatchback market. The Lexus CT first got sold back in 2011 and sales of the model have been going strong ever since. Accord to Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota in Japan, the CT stands for “creative touring.
So, what’s the big deal about the Lexus CT? Why do so many people flock to the Lexus brand and buy the CT hybrid? Here are a few reasons to help explain this phenomenon:
There is just one engine available on the baby Lexus. You get a 1.8-litre 16-valve power plant that offers variable valve timing. It’s also connected to a hybrid drive system. Altogether, the engine produces 134 brake horsepower. The Lexus CT has a top speed of 112 mph.
The eagle-eyed among you will doubtless have noticed the engine is the same unit used in the Toyota Prius. It makes sense, given that Lexus is a subsidiary of Toyota. And both the CT and the Prius are similar in size.
Analysts suggest the engine choice, and indeed the model, are there to stop people leaving the Toyota and Lexus family. They don’t want customers in this segment to buy an Audi A3, for example.
Inchcape Lexus reckon many people are also doing the reverse – heading over to Lexus from the Audi and BMW world! Both brands offer excellent reliability and safety statistics. And, for many drivers, German car makers aren’t coming up with better vehicles.
What it’s like on the road
Ask any Lexus CT driver, and they will tell you this: the thing they love the most about their cars is the handling!
The natural stance of the Lexus CT means that it has a lower centre of gravity. In the car world, if a vehicle is lower to the ground, it will stick better to the road. Especially when cornering. It’s no secret that the CT faces some stiff competition from the likes of the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3.
But the baby Lexus can stave off its German competitors thanks to its superior handling. In fact, there is little body roll to speak of when going around corners at speed. The hybrid drive system also does a good job of keeping the car weighed down to the tarmac. Although that doesn’t affect performance as much as you might think!
One can compare the performance of the Lexus CT to the Toyota Prius and Auris hybrid vehicles. In the CT, you can reach 60 mph from a standing start in ten seconds. Although this sounds “OK” it would be nice if the engine had a bit more “oomph” as it can sometimes feel laboured.
The engine is mated to a CVT gearbox – something Toyota opts for across its range. I’m afraid that is the other downside to things under the bonnet, as it were. In case you weren’t aware, CVT gearboxes work by holding the revs high in each gear until the desired speed is reached.
In some engines, this characteristic isn’t noticed much. But on the 1.8 hybrid, it’s quite apparent I’m afraid. There is some good news, however. In 2014, the facelift model addressed some of the issues relating to the gearbox – especially at high speeds. It does make the transmission quieter when the engine is working hard.
You get a choice of four driving modes in the Lexus CT. They are Normal, EV, Eco, and Sport. If you want to drive in electric-only mode, select EV. You can travel up to 28 mph in this mode. That is useful for people who spend their time stuck in city centre traffic often!
Normal mode is the same, but the 1.8 engine takes over when the hybrid drive batteries run out of juice. Eco makes sure you use the climate control and accelerator pedal sparingly. And Sport mode ramps up the power and makes the handling on the Lexus CT firmer.