Car Buyers' Guide: Lexus hatch
Keith's a huge fan of the Lexus model range and drives a 2001 sedan but he is looking at trading up to the new CT200h hatch.
"Our old Lexus is so well put together and judging by its reliability to date, looks like it could go on for ever. I have always liked the look of the CT200h and as a former mechanic the hybrid technology is also appealing along with the cheaper running costs," says Keith.
His dilemma is more around specification levels with the CT200h and whether he should jump ship and look at more mainstream brands with similar, or in some cases, more features for less money.
He is also asking if the Lexus hybrid technology has more benefits around town than on the open road.
The budget: $65,000
Well Keith, there will always be people who stay totally committed to a particular brand, regardless of what else is on offer. They don't do comparisons or need to be convinced their choice of a particular brand is better than something else.
The Lexus and top end European brands enjoy the same strong connection with many of their customers.
The CT stands for Creative Touring and while some see the hybrid as a Toyota Prius in disguise others will see it in a totally different light. Yes, they may share similar running gear, but for the loyal Lexus drivers, that is where the comparison stops and I have to say I don't disagree with them one little bit in that regard.
This vehicle oozes quality everywhere you look and everything you touch and feel. It has detail in every part of its makeup.
It may miss out on a particular feature that the latest mainstream model has (such as blind spot monitoring), but overall, it can hold its head up above the crowd and justify its higher price tag on attention to detail alone.
The CT200 hybrid ($49,995), CT F Sport ($59,995) and the CT200 Hybrid Limited ($69,995) are the three models around.
I can't quite grasp the reason behind having an 'F' model in the line-up as it does lead one into a false sense of hope in terms of better performance (all three models produce the same 100kW of power) but the difference in specification levels is nothing more than cosmetic.
Claimed combined fuel consumption is 4.1l/100km but anything around 5l/100km is pretty damn good anyway these days.
The Toyota/Lexus hybrid system works best around town where it can, at times, operate solely on its electric motor but as the technology has progressed, the silent electric mode engages a lot more than it used to during open road driving which places less demand and reliance on the 1.8l petrol engine.
So Keith, are you prepared to look around and dig deep into specification comparisons with the mainstream brands or stick with what you know and love. Many I suspect would say yes, you owe it to yourself to look outside the Lexus showroom while the true believers would say you will never replace what the badge truly stands for. Your call.