Since I live in a motley urban jungle, there’s always an eclectic mix of cars swinging by. But lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of sleek little Lexus CT200H hatches around. At first, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. A Lexus is usually driven by a banker, who wants a big comfy couch of a car. Why wasn’t this a Scion? Or for that matter, a Prius?
So naturally, I had to check one out for myself. Up close, it definitely looked more like a Scion. All aggressively hard edges, creased contours, and insouciantly low to the ground. What banker would want their butt so close to the asphalt?
Inside, the CT200H was a totally different story. It was all Lexus, and then some. Practically everything was well-upholstered, from the doors to the seats to the headrests. And so ergonomic, my physiotherapist would have been in heaven. I could adjust the driver’s seat a dozen different ways, servicing the tangled stress of muscles in my back, shoulders and legs. What’s more, four simple memory keys on the driver’s door meant that other drivers with completely different seating needs could get the same treatment.
Since it was a hybrid, there was so much to look at, and choices to make. Should I go eco? Should I go sport? Ooh, the speedo lit up with a blaze of red when I hit sport! Should I go for maximum brake regeneration? And of course, there was satellite radio. This was a tekkie’s dream, with all kinds of digital doodles on the display screen and dashboard, showing battery regen, eco considerations, and a gear shift lever that seemed to be patterned after a Cyrillic numeral.
But it seemed someone at Lexus has a sense of humour. The parking brake was strictly old-school, a pendant-type contraption in front of the firewall – and next to the way-cool aluminum pedals – straight out of a 1963 Valiant!
For those who aren’t familiar with Toronto’s roadways, this summer, the neighbourhood looks like this. See where all those blue traffic cones are heaped up, one on top of another? That’s where I live. So having a hybrid with its fuel-sipping ways was heaven-sent. Getting through the calamity of congestion that rules Toronto’s roads requires a small, agile set of wheels that’s easy on gas. And I have to say, the Lexus did so, with great style and panache.
One evening, we went for dinner with cousin Irving, who was in town from Montreal. He fell in love with the luxe, sporty feel of the car. But then – we got lost in the Junction, right by the three-way railroad tracks. That’s when we could have used a navigational system, but my Sport package didn’t come with navi. Well, it gave us an excuse to draw out the drive, and kvetch up on news.
This was one of the quietest cars I’ve driven, and not just because it was a hybrid. All that upholstering kept the cabin silent, save for the chatter between us. When we finally parked, I got ready to step out when oops – I almost forgot to turn the engine off! That actually happened more than once.
Then there was the matter of the trunk, which I was sure would be compromised by the hybrid battery. But it was reasonably sized, big enough to accommodate a weekend’s worth of luggage and groceries. It also had a cool hidden compartment for stashing contraband cat food. Or whatever you’d want to hide under there.
And at the end of the week, having set it on maximum eco and brake regeneration, I was thrilled to find that I had saved on gas. While I usually use 1/4 of a tank for my 180 or so kilometres a week, I barely used 1/8 of a tank.
So when your neighbourhood gets taken over by construction crews, and there are more front-loaders than there are cars, the Lexus Ct200H could be a life-saver.
It’s elegant, sporty, comfy and frugal.
These days, you can’t ask for much more than that.