I remember back in the late 1980’s when I first heard about Lexus cars, they made big, heavy, fast ‘luxury’ cars that were meant to compete with Mercedes and all that tosh.
I was about as interested in a 1980’s Lexus as I am in fishing, no wait, I’ve been fishing, it was quite good fun.
Then a couple of years ago I drove the Lexus RX 450h. That’s the SUV thing, big as a Range Rover, 3 tons of rabid luxury.
I’m not going to pretend I didn’t enjoy driving it, it was spectacularly comfortable, I did a 200 mile drive in it and got out without grunting. No back pain, relaxed and fresh as a man half my age. The grunt free car exit is an achievement for me but I couldn’t really say I thought the car was a good idea. I suppose it does get a slightly higher MPG than the non hybrid version but do we really need to drive 3 ton cars? I kind of hope not.
I recently drove a smaller and eminently more sensible Lexus hybrid, the CT200h. This is a hybrid compact car, smaller than a Prius, maybe a bit bigger than a Golf, about the same size as a BMW 1 series. I only know that because someone at Lexus told me. I’m not, as I’ve said many times, an automotive journalist, but I’m learning fast.
What I do know is that Lexus, which is part of Toyota, have taken what they’ve learned from the experience of the Prius and kind of zooshed it up.
It’s all very refined and luxurious even though it’s quite small. It’s very quiet, it’ll get between 60 and 70 mpg without much effort and it has a lot of buttons.
I mean a serious amount of buttons, and a sat-nav that flips up when you turn the car on.
It has all the gizmo’s and bluetooths and they all work beautifully, you can do most stuff without taking your hands off the wheel, the visibility is very good, the steering is light and very responsive... oh Lord, I am turning into a motoring journalist. I’ll be wearing a car coat and grey slip on shoes soon.
The thing is, if you are looking to buy an upmarket compact car why not buy an Audi or a BMW diesel? They are roughly the same price, same size etc.
Well, I would argue two things. One, after 60,000 miles you are going to make around a £3,000 fuel saving in the Lexus over the BMW 1 series. Fairly attractive proposition.
And two, the Audi and BMW are both diesel powered and no matter what people tell me, how many tweets I get telling me how wrong I am, all the nonsense spun out by the motoring press I still believe diesels are dirty. I know the newer ones are greatly improved but they still chuck out Sox and Nox, and yes they may start using ‘stop start’ technology like it’s something new and ‘green.’
Well, the Prius has been doing that for over 10 flippin’ years for goodness sake. The Lexus does that without thinking. Not only that, you can be doing 70 mph on a slight downhill slope of a motorway and the petrol engine isn’t running, try doing that in a diesel with stop start technology.
Okay, I’m ranting, hold back. Breath in, yuk, I’m following a Audi diesel, I’m choking!
So all in all, I think the Lexus CT200h is a very good idea.