The idea of the Lexus CT 200h F Sport intrigues me. A compact, premium, efficient hatchback with an added dose of sportiness? Sign me up. It's why I'm still crossing my fingers for Volkswagen to sell the Golf GTD on our shores (though recent reports on that front are bumming me out). And judging a book by its cover, this Lexus certainly looks like it could be an interesting proposition.

Lexus first launched the CT for the 2011 model year, and for 2014, the little hatch has been given a makeover, now proudly wearing the company's new spindle grille, for better or worse. When we reviewed the CT after its launch, executive editor Chris Paukert called it "handsome, well screwed together," and "one of Toyota's boldest offerings in years." That may have been true, but after a slight makeover and some fresh new F Sport duds, I'm wondering if the CT proposition isn't looking a little more unfortunate than before.

Driving Notes
  • Despite the fact that I like the CT's shape, that new gaping maw up front really kills it for me, especially with those aluminum bits of lipstick. The rest of the car is relatively clean, with a subtly redesigned rear end that incorporates a larger roof spoiler here on the F Sport model. One particularly handsome part of the CT F Sport package are the dark-finished, 17-inch alloy wheels. But from some angles, they still look an inch too small.
  • Nothing has changed underhood, where the CT 200h still employs a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine matched with a 60-kilowatt electric motor. Together, this system puts out a total of 134 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque – pretty puny numbers, considering this car's mission as a sort of sporty hybrid, not to mention its 3,130-pound curb weight.
  • Off the line, there's nothing to write home about, Lexus estimating a 0-60 time of just under 10 seconds. Getting there isn't terribly pleasant, either, with rather vague throttle response and a wheezy, unpleasant noise coming from that four-cylinder mill. The electronic continuously variable transmission keeps the powerplant on boil (as much as it can, anyway), but this car is still really slow, even with the drive mode selector set to Sport.
  • Once you're up and moving, the CT doesn't do a lot to inspire driver enthusiasm – at least, none fitting of all that flashy F Sport kit. The steering is decent enough, though still rather vague. There's a fair amount of body roll in corners. The brakes are particularly touchy, as are most hybrid regenerative energy units. Really, it just isn't great to drive unless you're milling around town at low speed. On the highway, the engine drones, while the CVT does its best to keep the engine in its weak powerband, and while off-the-line acceleration is slow, kicking the throttle down to pass at speed is perhaps worse.
  • I'd like to say that all of this driveline stuff is for the sake of bang-up fuel economy, but that isn't totally true. According to the EPA, the CT 200h should achieve 43 miles per gallon on the highway and 40 mpg in the city – respectable stuff, sure. But consider just how much better diesel-powered offerings like a Volkswagen Golf or Jetta are to drive, and then realize that they'll hit the same highway fuel economy numbers (or higher) for less money, and the Lexus starts to make less sense, though admittedly comparing hybrids to diesels is a bit apples-to-oranges. During my week of driving, I only managed 38 mpg.
  • Functionally, though, the CT has a lot to offer. Like I said, I like the hatchback shape, and the ability to quickly flip down those rear seats to carry larger items. Even beyond that, the interior is a pretty nice place to be, with comfortable, supportive seats, nice materials throughout, and the usual smattering of onboard technology, including Lexus' infotainment system controlled by the mouse-like Remote Touch interface on the center console. What's more, the interior is relatively quiet, though still letting in a fair amount of wind and engine noise. The rear seats aren't too cramped, either.
  • Really, though, the F Sport nonsense is what kills the CT 200h for me. It adds nothing in the way of actual sportiness, and its aesthetics ruins what can be a handsome little hatch – at least, what was a handsome hatch before that spindle grille overpowered everything. Plus, it adds to the bottom line – a base CT will run you just over $32,000, or about as much as a loaded Prius. But check the F Sport option and you'll get this car to nearly $40,000. That's a fair bit of coin.
  • Of course, that money buys you a fancy 'L' badge, a more premium dealer experience, and a functional hatch that drives a bit better than the stalwart Toyota. But to my eyes, there are two schools of thought here: If you want a Prius, just buy a Prius. And if you want a more under-the-radar fuel-sipper, why not try one of the Volkswagen TDI offerings? Assuming diesel is your thing, of course. (It should be.) Or heck, put that money toward a plug-in Ford Fusion Energi – a car that offers more space, better dynamics, and a nifty plug in front to really impress your green friends. The Honda Accord Hybrid appears to be a mighty fine alternative, too.
  • Really, when the CT 200h launched, I thought it was pretty cool – it looked good, drove well enough, and like Paukert said, was one of Toyota's more interesting vehicles. But today, this refreshed F Sport model doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to me. It isn't particularly good at any one thing – it's a fine hatchback, and a comfortable Lexus, but it's not a very good car to drive, and in my experience, it struggles to hit its EPA fuel economy estimates. With a growing crop of eco-minded vehicles in the sub-$40,000 segment, there are plenty of cars that make more sense than this quirky little Lexus.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 143 Comments
      Bryant Fuller
      • 1 Year Ago
      F-Sport? 134HP? complete and utter fail! And people barked at Chevrolet for putting SS on everything, hell at least the Cobalt SS had a turbo charged engine that broke 200HP. The Car itself is ok its quirky, quirky is good but if you going to call it sporty at least make it live up to it. Its almost like... hell i cant even come up with a good anecdote. SMH...
        JB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bryant Fuller
        They really shouldn't have called this an F-sport. Tarnishes the entire line of Lexus F cars.
          Susan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JB
          Tarnishing a formerly-respected nameplate of brand is a common practice at big corporations. They try to milk the reputation for short-term profit, and then later realize what they lost. "How did this happen?"
      brgtlm
      • 1 Year Ago
      A luxury Prius hatchback in a body style that is better looking than the ugly 4DR that preceded it. If they aren't going to make any changes to the drivetrain to this tepidly slow car, I don't know why they bother even having an F Sport badge on it - exactly like the author said. Another example of Lexus/Toyota demented decision making.
      GO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Look...if you want an Audi, get an Audi.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      That grille needs to go.
      AMG4Life69
      • 1 Year Ago
      Think of all the things you could buy for $39,000. They'd all be a better buy than this car.
      CarEnthusiastRTP
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are AB's comments disappearing? So annoying.
        carguy1701
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CarEnthusiastRTP
        The comment system has been wonky for the last few weeks.
          Justin Campanale
          • 1 Year Ago
          @carguy1701
          It keeps on giving me "we are sorry your comment could not be posted" or "we're sorry your rating could not be added due to techical issues".
          carguy1701
          • 1 Year Ago
          @carguy1701
          Justin: Yeah, that has been happening with me as well. It's like there's a clock or something that counts down, then it won't take your comment. This system is stupid anyway, honestly. Between these new technical difficulties and the sockpuppet stupidity of Aaronm_mt and rob (the moron who wants the Corvette to be turned into an American GT-R), there is barely any reason to comment anymore.
          CarEnthusiastRTP
          • 1 Year Ago
          @carguy1701
          It's annoying. A lot of comments are totally disappearing.
      Hal
      • 1 Year Ago
      It looks like Ultraman in red.
      midwest9040
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm really trying to wrap my brain around this car. Taking the "Lexus" name out of the equation, how could anyone make a case for buying this car? I'm not a fan of the Camry Hybrid, but just a quick comparison would show you a car made by the same company, accelerating to 60 mph a good 2 seconds faster, and within standard deviations gets about the same gas mileage all at over $10000 less. If you know the owner of a Lexus CT 200h F Sport (could the name be anymore ridiculous?) send them my way as I have some swamp land I need to upload.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Larry Litmanen
      • 1 Year Ago
      "I'd like to say that all of this driveline stuff is for the sake of bang-up fuel economy, but that isn't totally true. According to the EPA, the CT 200h should achieve 43 miles per gallon on the highway and 40 mpg in the city – respectable stuff, sure. But consider just how much better diesel-powered offerings like a Volkswagen Golf or Jetta are to drive, and then realize that they'll hit the same highway fuel economy numbers (or higher) for less money, and the Lexus starts to make less sense, though admittedly comparing hybrids to diesels is a bit apples-to-oranges. During my week of driving, I only managed 38 mpg."------------------------This is completely pointless. The argument is absurd because if one is looking at a Lexus which is known to be luxury and have a soft ride and it's number 1 selling point is reliably that person will never look at VW that is KNOWN to have poor reliability, so person will never cross shop both cars. Secondly people who live in large cities could not care less about highway MPGs because even on highways on regular work days you do not go very fast and always need to adjust your speed (i am sorry over 50% of Americans live in large cities, so that's half the buying public). People do not cross shop VW and a Lexus. Secondly there are 5 gas stations that are close to my house, not one has a diesel, could that also be the case for many others? I am sick and tired of people talking about diesel, it's not something most people want or care for, just get over that already.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        I not reponding to your cross shop, but to reliability, VW diesel are reliable, but the gas cars are another story,think you are just adding up things because of VW overall ratings, but they are reliable diesel engines than even toyota diesel in europe
          Larry Litmanen
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          I was talking about overall reliability of VW cars. People who buy Lexus over for it because they know the car will be very reliable, that's what these people want. VW is not that, it is more fun to drive and people who buy VWs do not look at Lexus, people have different tastes. So for someone who writes for an auto publication not to know that is absurd.
          JVP
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          OK, their engines might be reliable, but the rest of the car...
          Larry Litmanen
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          I was talking about overall reliability of VW cars. People who buy Lexus over for it because they know the car will be very reliable, that's what these people want. VW is not that, it is more fun to drive and people who buy VWs do not look at Lexus, people have different tastes. So for someone who writes for an auto publication not to know that is absurd.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        I not reponding to your cross shop, but to reliability, VW diesel are reliable, but the gas cars are another story,think you are just adding up things because of VW overall ratings, but they are reliable diesel engines than even toyota diesel in europe
      Max Bramante
      • 1 Year Ago
      THis shitty review is brought to you by VW Group. Shame on you Autoblog. This car gets better gas mileage than any unreliable golf and audi 3 tdi. How much have you been payed to write these lies?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Max Bramante
        [blocked]
        Brandon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Max Bramante
        So you have multiple logins max, good for you! The CT is a bad car. Toyota has and does make some terrible cars. Get over it. And while you're at it stop riding Toyota's d**k.
      Max Deranged Max
      • 1 Year Ago
      THis shitty review is brought to you by VW Group. Shame on you Autoblog.
        Cmpt
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Max Deranged Max

        I would not touch a VW with a 10-ft pole... very unreliable car, not only because of its engine but mainly the electronic portion of an automobile.... and since 1990s, cars started to rely so much on electrical components to perform and for sure VW car is very poor in this department... I had 1987 Camry, 1997 Maxima, 2007 Rav4 and 1996 MB E320... for sure Camry and Rav4 beat them all in terms of reliability. BTW, we are going to pick up our 2015 Lexus CT200h next week... sorry but suck on that

        Brandon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Max Deranged Max
        By the way, if you're going to have multiple logins at least write something different on each account and don't leave spelling errors in both comments.
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