Compact luxury

Click to enlarge
Lexus CT200h.

Lexus CT200h.

The real beauty of the new CT200h is that it lets you fully embrace the eco-car philosophy without broadcasting your intent. This is a sophisticated alternative to the streamlined hedgehogs that some are determined to be seen driving. But while it looks and feels sporty on the road, performance is not a CT200h strongpoint.

Several hybrid Lexus models have already been sold locally but this is the first to contest the luxury compact class. In its crosshairs are the BMW 1-Series and Audi A3.

The CT runs a proven parallel hybrid system through a CVT automatic. So it can run solely on electric power, petrol power or on a combination of the two. In any case, the powertrain is quite ‘normal’ in operation and it switches power delivery without the faintest hesitation.

Driving in EV mode is silent and supremely relaxing. In fact, you wish the Hoover-like 1.8-litre petrol engine would never interrupt. But it inevitably does. Power from the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack only lasts for 2 km at town speeds and it won’t push you much past 40 km/h without assistance. Friction from the braking system recharges the batteries so your right
foot is effectively the charger.

Dashboard illumination changes from soothing blue to red when you twist the Drive Mode dial to Sport, and this sharpens throttle response and also provides boost from the electric motor. But the amount of oomph isn’t enough to satisfy those expecting a hot hatch.

Styling flourishes include LED running lights with an arrowhead pattern, very muscular rear arches and sweeping curves through the C-pillars. The rear valance notably obscures the exhaust on this ‘green’ machine.

Best interior bits? The superb front seats followed by the clarity of the driving environment with logical divisions and layers of quality controls on a tall centre console. An 8-inch pop-up colour display sits atop the dash and the high-quality leather and substantial plastics are as good as you’ll find in a compact hatchback.


More objects

My, oh my Milan

My, oh my Milan

The Urbis selection of some of the most alluring objects from this year’s Milan Furniture Fair.
Eastern Bloc

Eastern Bloc

A refined take on the utilitarian and industrial shapes from the Soviet era’s metal furniture design. Stalin would most certainly not be amused.
Driftwood

Driftwood

Shaped and brought to shore by the whim of curious tides.
Grids & graphs

Grids & graphs

Much like linear hatching in drawing and engraving, these pieces create shade and tone through lines that seem almost hand sketched.
Native accents

Native accents

Items using or referencing traditional handcrafts. Earthy materials, prints, colours, patterns and forms connect the home to other cultures and ways of living.

Most read

Garden the blue sky

Garden the blue sky

This architect’s penthouse boasts enviable green spaces and a vertigo-inducing outdoor bath.
Homes for barter

Homes for barter

Urbis chats to the co-founders of a home exchange website aimed solely at creatives about trading their highly curated abodes with perfect strangers.
My, oh my Milan

My, oh my Milan

The Urbis selection of some of the most alluring objects from this year’s Milan Furniture Fair.
The skyline shifter

The skyline shifter

Ground is soon to be broken for The Pacifica, a soaring new apartment complex that has the ability to reinvigorate an enclave of Auckland’s downtown.
Doors wide open

Doors wide open

A designer villa in Bali, inspired by Japanese minimalism and with a strong environmental ethos, captures the essence of simplicity, luxury and relaxation.