Lexus CT 200h Sport

PRICE cuts, extra spec and a near fanatical attention to detail show how determined Lexus has been to keep its best seller in the forefront of a car buyer’s mind.

They’re all aimed at making the latest Lexus CT 200h a more compelling buy for both head and heart, with the new Sport version simply piling on the goodies count as well.

Every one of the newer CT 200h models gains a quieter cabin, better ride and useful improvements to economy figures that already made the car a compelling case – on paper at least.

For, in the way of these things, the near 70mpg Lexus has to quote for its baby is never going to be approached in the real world. However, there are compensations.

Firstly, over more than 400 mixed miles the car showed 49.7mpg on its trip computer. That’s not bad for a car built like a Swiss watch, albeit one powered mostly by a petrol engine with an electric motor helping out when it can.

Which is not often. Buried away beneath the boot floor (and so cutting into luggage space) there’s a modestly sized battery that will purr the Lexus along all by itself at low speed, but not for long.

After perhaps a few hundred yards the petrol engine kicks in quietly, giving you a car that then has no trouble keeping up with the traffic. Under braking the battery recharges itself and can contribute a little to economy, until it again needs a top up.

Combined with an automatic transmission that now no longer hunts annoyingly for the perfect gear, this latest CT 200h is a much more relaxed way to travel than before, while still making a case for itself on paper for a company car driver.

The new Sport trim builds on the previous Advance Plus model, adding a black front grille, door mirror casings and a rear diffuser, plus 17-inch black alloys. All very handsome too.

A sunroof and the Lexus Navigation system are also standard, together with heated front seats, Smart Entry and push-button start, navigation with remote dial control, cruise control, rear privacy glass, six-speaker audio system with DAB and Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and rain-sensing wipers.

Just as in a previous CT 200h experience of mine, the DAB radio was hopelessly lost and hardly found a signal; FM reception was fine, thank goodness.

The sat nav, worked from a rotary control between the front seats, was a fiddle to use but at least Bluetooth found my mobile phone without a problem.

On a smooth road the car is actually fun to drive (even if the new look steering wheel is now too chunkily sporty) and the smart use of plastics in the cabin drew admiring glances from passengers.

They were less impressed when the car hit a patch of badly surfaced road, where changes to the suspension have turned the ride from bone shaking to simply brittle. Better, for sure, but still room for improvement.