Motorcheck Used Car Guide: Lexus CT200h

Years built: 2011 to today

Bodystyles: Small hybrid hatchback

What is it?

The Lexus CT200h has, for quite some time now, been the luxury Japanese brand’s Irish best-seller. Which, perhaps, is not that big a surprise — after all, it provides the sort of luxurious, luscious, Lexus experience that you perhaps crave, with a relatively lower entry price point and pretty affordable running costs. It’s also something of a survivor — we had always assumed that it was something of a stop-gap model for Lexus, until it could develop a more fully-rounded Audi A3 rival, but here we are, eight years later, and it’s still selling well. Why the popularity? Let’s see…

Which one should I buy?

The Lexus CT200h is, perhaps unsurprisingly, based on a Toyota and in this case it’s the second-generation Prius. It’s only ever been available in one version, with the 1.8-litre Atkinson-Cycle (it keeps the valves open a bit longer than a conventional engine, which is good for efficiency, but bad for power) engine and the usual electric motor and stack of nickel batteries behind the back seat.

Now, it’s critical to remember that this is the older, third-generation Prius we’re talking about, not the current fish-faced version, so although the CT200h remains on sale today, it’s using a powertrain that’s slipped behind the times. So it’s less a case of ‘which one should I buy?’ and more a case of ‘should I buy it at all?’

The answer isn’t a simple yes/no. If your daily driving is constantly pounding the outside lane of the motorway, driving long hauls between the major urban centres, then the CT200h is not for you. Oh, it’s perfectly comfortable and refined, and the cabin is gorgeous, which takes the sting out of long journeys, but the problem is the hybrid powertrain. Put simply, the third-gen Prius powertrain was not well suited to longer journeys, and prolonged motorway runs banjax its economy — you could be looking at as little as 30mpg on a long run, depending on your driving style.

If, though, most of your journeys are short hops, either on slower country roads or, better yet, around town, then a CT200h could be ideal. Shorter, slower, journeys with lots of stopping and waiting allow the engine to perform to its best, and its economy can suddenly jump up to 50mpg or even better.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the CT200h isn’t an especially suitable car for those with growing families, either. Rear seat space is quite poor and the boot is positively tiny. For those looking to downsize, and yet keep the luxury, comfort, and refinement of a larger car, though, it’s just about perfect.

Bear in mind that the CT200h was facelifted very quickly after its initial launch — in 2014 in fact — gaining the bigger Lexus ‘spindle’ grille and some interior improvements. Trim levels changed and were moved around over the years (it’s now split between Sport and Luxury models) but basically the newer it is, the bigger an infotainment screen it’ll have, plus more interior toys and options in general. A second update in 2017 brought some more minor changes.

How much should I spend?

Early CT200hs, either just-post or just-pre facelift are now dipping below the €10,000 mark, while a nearly-new 2019 version will still top €35,000.

Here’s one we found:

2015 Lexus CT200h Advance Plus, two owners, 48,000km, €18,950 from a SIMI-registered dealer.

What goes wrong?

Almost literally nothing. Lexus’ reputation for quality, reliability, and strength is virtually unmatched in the motoring world, so as long as you’re getting a CT200h with a full service history, and a history and background check, from a reputable dealer, you’re going to be fine.

That said, nothing in the world is perfectly perfect, so there are one or two issues. Interior rattles are, surprisingly, commonplace, but they are in fairness exacerbated by the fact that the CT’s cabin is, generally, a very refined and quiet place. Lexus’ navigation and infotainment systems have long been criticised for being clunky and out of date, and the CT doesn’t escape that. The alloy wheels are easily kerbed, and in rare cases the battery can develop problems if the car is left standing for a long period, such as when you’re on a lengthy holiday or similar.

Anything else?

It is very much worth pointing out that being as the CT200h is based on the MkII Toyota Prius, it is well worth considering a Prius instead. True, you won’t get the CT’s more opulent interior, but you do get more cabin space, a bigger boot, and a cheaper purchase price.

And when you’ve found your perfect Lexus CT200h don’t forget to get it history checked by motorcheck.ie.