The new CT200h takes Lexus into the previously uncharted waters of the lower medium segment where the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series dominate, not to mention VW‘s Golf.

But, predictably, given the premium brand’s predilection for the technology, the Lexus is coming armed with a hybrid system that offers emissions and fuel economy that none of the rivals can get close to. Just 94g/km puts the CT200h in the 10% BIK tax band, while the official fuel economy figure is 68.9mpg thanks to the hybrid system that can run the car on battery alone at speeds of up to 28mph.

Although the starting price point is higher than the German rivals, Lexus claims that speccing up a 1-series or A3 to the CT200h’s level will cost around £1500.

From a styling perspective the Lexus is understated, and although it is better looking in the metal than the pictures, it won’t be chosen for looks alone, especially as the cost per mile equation will appeal to fleet managers. Kwik Carcost predicts a residual value that, like the P11D, sits between the BMW and Audi rivals, yet neither German can get within 4p of the CT’s 46.4p per mile figure. That’s thanks largely to significantly lower servicing costs, due to the hybrid powertrain not having belts or an alternator, while the regenerative braking system to recharge the battery leads to much-reduced brake pad wear.

The only disappointment is the way the car drives. The ride is too hard, in the way that a 1-series is also too hard, but at least the BMW has a handling pay-off you don’t get with the Lexus. The powertrain also feels flat, offering very little by way of urgency when the throttle’s pressed, no matter whether the car’s on eco, normal or sport setting. It’s a shame the drive is a let-down, but for many that won’t matter because they’ll be getting a very cost-effective, classy and understated small premium car.

Lexus CT200h SE-I
P11D price £23,430
Model price range £23,430-£30,635
Fuel consumption 68.9mpg
CO2 (tax) 94g/km (10%)
BIK 20/40% per month £39/£78
Service interval 10,000 miles
Insurance (1-50) group 15
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space min/max 345/700 litres
Engine size/power 1798cc/98hp
Top speed/0-62mph 112mph/10.3secs
On sale March 2011
Score 7/10
Verdict Impressive figures and
tech, but can’t match
Germans on the road