7.15.2014

Why The Lexus CT200h F-Sport? Really, Why?

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Lexus CT200h
The 2014 Lexus CT200h.

Almost 2 years ago, Michael reviewed the Lexus CT200h F-Sport, expressing surprise that there was really a market for a $30,000-plus Lexus small hatchback hybrid, much less an extra-cost one offering no performance benefit that, as equpped, approached $40,000.

"Do you see something here we're not seeing?" Michael asked.  And no one answered. Averaged out over the four model years of its existence and forecasting 2014 based on the first six months of the year, Lexus manages to find homes for about 16,000 of them per year. That is not huge, but it is certainly more demand than driving it would suggest it would generate.



Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Lexus CT200h
2014 Lexus CT200h F-Sport.
The styling is generic hatchback. The performance, painfully slow.  Zero to 60 is achieved in less than ten seconds only if "Sport" mode is engaged, and then, only just. Its base price of $32,050 is $2,045 more than that of a top-of-the-line Prius Five. While it manages to make #9 on the list of TireKicker's Top Ten Fuel Savers (see the right hand column of this or any page on the site) with its EPA-estimated 43 miles per gallon city/40 highway, that is still far less than the Prius' 51/48.

It is small inside, and not especially luxurious, with surfaces covered not in leather, but NuLuxe (Toyota's synthetic leather substitute). The value equation is already less than compelling.
And then, you have F-Sport.

F-Sport is Lexus' performance brand (as Mercedes has AMG and BMW has M Sport).  In certain vehicles, (LFA, IS-F), it means high-performance engines along with suspension upgrades and appearance items.  In others (RX350 F-Sport, IS350 F-Sport, GS350 F-Sport, LS460 F-Sport), it is only the suspension upgrades and appearance items.

Interior view of 2014 Lexus CT200h
2014 Lexus CT200h interior.
For the CT200h, it is only the appearance items, along with a bit of gadgetry. 17-inch alloy wheels, mesh grille, rear spoiler, black headliner, aluminum sport pedals, perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, F-Sport fender badged, metal tone instrument panel trim, a black roof, rain-sensing wipers, HomeLink, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-dimming exterior mirrors that tilt down automatically when you shift into reverse, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat and F-Sport smooth leather seats (upgrading you from NuLuxe) is what makes up the F-Sport Luxury Package for Navigation.  It costs $3,325.

And, as the name suggests, you need to have chosen the Navigation System including backup camera, the Lexus Enform app suite, voice command, Gracenote, HD Radio and a 10-speaker premium audio system for another $3,490.

Then, there are the F-Sport LED headlamps with dynamic auto leveling, headlamp washers and LED foglamps.  $1,265.

Our tester also had front and rear intuitive park assist for $500. With $910 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price came to $41,540.

From my viewpoint, it not only fails the value test, It borders on foolish waste. Which, with a hybrid, is...or should be at least, the opposite of the philosophy behind the car.

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