I am a big fan of vehicles which succeed in contradicting first impressions – Jaguar’s C-X75 which looks like it’s powered by a gas-guzzling 6-litre V12, but instead is propelled by a novel turbine-based hybrid powertrain, Volkswagen’s 172 bhp Transport Sportline which could give a sporty hatchback a run for its money and Porsche’s new 911 which offers 170 mph performance combined with near 40 mpg economy.
And now there’s the Lexus CT 200h F-Sport. Kind of.
Whilst Lexus’ entry-level CT 200h is far from being a wolf in sheep’s clothing, its performance is adequate for most people (112 mph and 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds) who, let’s face it, are probably more interested in its 68.9 mpg and sub-100 g/km CO2 capability.
But being sensible doesn’t necessarily mean the fun is over, which is why Lexus have launched an ‘F-Sport’ version of the CT 200h, complete with larger rear spoiler, flared side skirts, mesh grille and revised aero bumpers. Other distinguishing features include an F-Sport steering wheel with a flat bottom section, aluminium pedals and scuff plates.
The F-Sport gains cruise control, F-Sport black leather upholstery, heated front seats, electric driver’s seat adjustment, auto-dimming (electrochromatic) electrically retractable door mirrors and a rear parking camera that links to a display in the rear-view mirror. Whilst owners can also choose the option of an advanced HDD navigation system combined with Lexus’s Remote Touch control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, reverse guidance monitor and 10-speaker audio package.
There’s more than just sharper looks involved in the upgrade, Lexus has tuned the CT 200h F-Sport’s suspension for a more engaging drive, and fitted its lateral damping system as standard. Coil spring rates have been changed and the standard Showa shock absorbers replaced with Kayaba dampers that give a more sports-oriented performance.
The lateral dampers, unique in the CT 200h’s class, help minimise body vibrations, leading to a more linear steering feel and rewarding driving experience, as well as providing greater comfort for everyone on board.
Performance – both straight line and efficiency – is the same as before, whilst the CT 200h remains the only full hybrid in its class which can run for up to a mile in slow moving traffic on its electric power alone, reducing fuel use and tailpipe emissions to zero.
The new Lexus CT 200h F-Sport is available to order now from £27,850 (OTR), with first UK deliveries arriving in January.