Midway into its model run, the novelty of the 2013 Lexus CT 200h design has worn off somewhat. Its hot-hatch silhouette and hybrid-only body style still get looks, but new compact hybrid entries make it somewhat less distinctive than it was when introduced three years ago.
The low, sporty shape with thick roof pillars and an unusual wraparound rear window design could be ready to take on the Volkswagen GTI or Mazda MazdaSpeed3, to name two authentically hot hatchbacks. At the front, the grille and air dam have elements in common with the IS compact sport sedans, although the headlamps and 'eyebrow' marker lamps look better detailed. At the back, the CT's sharp, roof-extended spoiler and thin, tapered tail lamps add an aggressive look.
The side profile of the CT 200h is clean and neat, yet still somewhat racy, blending Lexus's flowing L-finesse design language—evident in the smoothly curved lines and gently arced back pillar—with a pert, even aggressive hatchback profile.
Inside, you won't find the basic feel or economy-minded fittings so evident in the ur-hybrid Toyota Prius that donates its drivetrain to the Lexus CT. This car is far more upscale in look and feel than most other high-mileage hybrids, with an interior look and feel that's less smooth and more mechanically influenced than on most other Lexus models lately.
The instrument panel is unique to the CT, with an (upper) display zone and most of the controls are relegated to the (lower) control zone that's part of the center console that juts upward. It's somewhat low-set, with horizontal creases and a thick center console.
Lexus clearly wants to appeal to younger, more adventurous buyers with the CT's styling. The color choices (expanded for 2013) are more daring than its other models—including hues such as sparkly Daybreak Yellow Mica and Matador Red Mica tones, and light, glossy Starfire Pearl and Tungsten Pearl shades.
Interior trim is offered in a stylish two-tone charcoal/caramel combination, along with more predictable blacks and grays. Upholstery fabrics now include standard NuLuxe synthetic in Black, Ecru, or Caramel, with the options of Black or Water Gray leather. Simple black, bamboo or ash burl wood, or metal trim alternatives keep the cabin look luxurious.