Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Jo Borras0
Lexus CT200h F Sport is a Big City Superstar
This car you see here is the Lexus CT200h F Sport Hybrid, and I want to get one thing perfectly, utterly, unmistakably clear before we get too far into this review. That one thing is this: when I picked up my drop dead, melt-your-socks gorgeous attorney for dinner in the Lexus F Sport last week, the first sentence out of her mouth was a taunting “You look really good in a Lexus.”
Now, keep in mind that I’ve known this woman for years. As such, she’s been in and around some pretty serious high-dollar machinery from Stuttgart, Maranello, and, yes, Japan over the years, but she’s never commented on the sporty go-fasts. Not in a positive way, anyway, and that makes sense. Those cars are for compensators. The Lexus CT200h F Sport, though?
The Lexus CT200h F Sport is a car for connoisseurs.
It’s not a car for automotive connoisseurs, maybe. It’s not a Lancia Aurelia or a Zagato-bodied Aston Martin or anything like that, but the Lexus CT200h F Sport is a nice car that will effectively get you around town, won’t embarrass you at the valet’s, and one that is just different enough from the raft of Audi A4s, BMW 335s, and Mercedes CLAs that beautiful young professional women are used to being picked up in that they’ll take notice, without thinking you’re an overpaid man-child nursing some repressed mommy issues. In the entry-luxe sport sedan league that Lexus wants to play in with its F Sport cars, that’s not just a home run. It’s the automotive equivalent of hitting a ball over the fence in game six of the World Series, you know?
So, about the car. As a car, rather than a young professional’s fashion accessory, it’s not bad. In “Sport” mode with the transmission set to “B” mode, the CT200h was an able city traffic duelist, with enough electric-assisted grunt to dart in and out of traffic. It’s good enough that you can convince yourself that the people who built it really wanted an old Honda CRX, but needed a back seat and, really, they’ve worked hard enough to feel like they’ve earned a little bit of luxury.
Speaking of luxury, the Lexus CT200h F Sport’s interior was largely indistinguishable from a standard CT200h, which isn’t a terrible thing. The seats are comfortable, the leather is top-notch, and the instruments are crisp and easy to read.
Inside, though, I feel like I owe you a word of warning. The screen/infotainment deal is a thing of horror, using a mouse/trackball thing to navigate through its various apps- the women (my hot attorney friend and objectively at least as attractive I totally swear blonde wifey) complained about it. After they tried to input map data and work the audio system, they complained again. Then they complained about the metal surface on the in-dash CD system, and things went south from there.
Best to handle all that stuff yourself, then, if you find the Lexus CT200h F Sport’s infotainment mouse thing to be as intuitive as I did.
So, in all the car is slick, good-looking, and just different enough to make exactly the kind of statement you want to make as a young, single professional in a major city full of other young, single professionals. As a gear head, the car was more than up to the task of spinning nutso donuts in a snowy parking lot, and has enough tech to be mechanically interesting, too. If you’re a green-minded gear head, though? That’s where things get really interesting: I brutally flogged this car for 5 days in freezing, freezing cold, and never got the Avg. MPG to read under 40 MPG.
Finally, with an as-tested sticker price of $38K and change, the 2014 Lexus CT200h F Sport comes in at about $3000 less than the Toyota Avalon Hybrid I drove last month. I thought the Avalon was worth the money, but the wife said that seemed like a good car for her dad, and I’m not ready to face the implications of that. Not yet, anyway- maybe when I’m 60. Until then, I have to steer the sub $40K crowd to the CT200h.