PICS: Test Drive: The Lexus CT 200h Is Part Hybrid, Part (Almost) Hot Hatch

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Old 03 Mar 2014, 12:30 am   #1 (permalink)
cazza13
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Default PICS: Test Drive: The Lexus CT 200h Is Part Hybrid, Part (Almost) Hot Hatch

Check out this Lexus Hybrid/Hatch. Sleek design and does not scream
Lexus.

FROM: CR

Allow us, for just a second, to beat a dead horse: Lexus, Toyota Motor
Corp.’s luxury brand, has built a reputation for staid reliability.

Recently, the folks in Nagoya have had enough of that boring bullshit.
They said “what the F?” Then declared “WE ARE SPORTY AND FUN!!!” And,
in so doing, revamped the energy and passion of Japan’s flagship
line-up. Cars with the F SPORT designation, as established, are pretty
damn fun to drive. The dynamics of the cars are improved, especially
in handling and balance. What does that mean to you? Simple: a better,
more fluid driving experience.

F SPORT isn’t the sole upgrade at Lexus. Beginning with the 2013 GS,
Lexus models started pulling aesthetic cues from the covetable LFA
supercar. The combination of tuning and styling has given Lexus a new,
younger lease on life.

That’s a whole lot of intro for a car once derided as “a Prius in a
tuxedo.”

Positioned as a the only luxury compact hybrid hatchback, the CT 200h
serves as an entry point to Lexus and sits stoically in its own
awkward category. For all intents and purposes, previous chatter about
its sister, the Prius, isn’t wrong. The cars, naturally, share the
same drivetrain and a similar interior layout. The trims are more
upscale and the stance more muscular, leading, of course, to a male
dress-up association. However, the 2013 CT 200h isn't headed to a
masquerade ball.

In its latest incarnation, the CT 200h sheds some of its stigmas. Its
now got an aggressive, (almost) hot hatch look and a bit of driving
personality to match. With F SPORT, the hybrid also handles tight
curves with charming confidence. We drove it on an autocross course
and a scenic highway. We also blasted through 4-inches of snow and an
aggravating session of midtown gridlock. We imagined (very, very
briefly) the CT 200h as our family car.

That last sentiment is the key.

While the Lexus CT 200h F SPORT looks the part—aggressive, fast,
sexy—it’s still more family than Fuji Raceway. Which, ultimately, is
reassuring. Because, ultimately, the real dream is to mature without
sacrifice to adolescent dreams.

The CT 200h F SPORT is about balance. Improved, surely, in SPORT mode,
but also in the abstract—a pleasurable driving experience matched with
the fiscal and environmental friendly qualities of a hybrid. Good on
the wallet, good on the road, and, most important, tuned so that (if
you really, really want) it’s ready for a few tests on the track.

To be certain, the Lexus CT 200h F SPORT is no true hot hatch. It
isn't particularly fast. And, the engine doesn't roar. Yet, the car
isn't afraid to loosen its tie. And, thankfully, recognizes that
maximum pleasure is an essential element of luxury. With this
component added, the CT 200h realizes the potential of its lonely
niche, and may inspire others to compete.

Bottom line: The Lexus CT 200h F SPORT celebrates Lexus’ reliable past
in a fun-focused package.
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