It is most definitely a sign that I have lived in Dubai for far too long, that I had never even seen a Hybrid car.
With ideas that I would have to either plug this new age motor into the kitchen power socket with a million extension cables – or worse still, top up at McDonald’s with their leftover cooking oil – I was blown away to discover that the Lexus CT200h actually charges itself. It does this by transferring the energy used when braking (along with energy from the petrol motor) straight back into the battery with a petrol tank for extra consumption – and there isn’t any chip fat in sight.
Inside, there are loads of shiny buttons – my favourite being the push button ignition that doesn’t make a sound. The only way you know that the car is even running is by the cool pop-up screen (fitted with GPS, Bluetooth and all the bells and whistles you can imagine). The dash turns blue for Eco mode and Red for Sports.
Used to my tractor of a 4x4, I must admit to initially feeling a little intimidated by the size of the other cars on Shaikh Zayed Road, but this gave way to sheer comfort at the discovery of a mega sound system. This little car has as many speakers as a top of the range luxury Lexus 4x4. There is also a laptop-like control pad in the centre console, to guide you through all the functions on the monitor.
As far as the practicality of this Lexus goes, it really was perfect for my about town pursuits. My obligatory weekend venti latte, usually too fat to fit a standard cup holder, sat snuggly and withstood tight corners and roundabouts without me losing a drop.
Parking was a doddle with the help of self-positioning mirrors, a reversing camera with funky lines on the monitor to guide you faultlessly into your space and complete with parking sensor warning beeps. (beeps – good; flat line – bad).
One minor concern was the boot space, which only just managed to fit my folded down buggy, a Quinny Buzz 3. The car is otherwise well geared up for little people with ISOFIX attachments neatly hidden away behind zippers on the back seats. However, you might need to rethink the CT200h when your car seat turns into a teenager, the back legroom’s not designed for grown-ups!
Does it man up?
It’s got some pretty cool gadgets that prompted a few ahs and oohs – in particular the flip-up display that shows the fuel consumption pattern over a period of time and how the power is being generated and consumed. It also has a sports mode which actually makes quite a difference when it comes to packing a bit more punch. So, in fairness, it does have some manly features, which makes it quite fun to drive – but it’s pretty small and doesn’t have that lovely grunt of a V6 or V8.
– Cameron Cairns
Colour choice: 10 options
Boot size: Only just big enough for the buggy, not sure where the shopping goes though… the back seats do fold all the way down, but then where would you put the kids?
ISOFIX: Discreetly fitted behind zippers on rear seats
Central locking: Press once for driver door and twice for all doors.
Aircon: Only in the front, but dual control for driver and passenger. It’s a compact car, so it gets icy cold in minutes!
Safety: Eight airbags, Vehicle Stability Control, ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (maximises the stopping power)
Parkability: Self-positioning wing mirrors, parking sensors and reversing camera.
Cup Holders: 4
Push button ignition.
Doing your bit for the environment – after an action-packed weekend I barely made a dent on the fuel tank.
USB and Aux outlets
Fantastic sound system
Interactive console with GPS, Bluetooth, CD/radio and loads of other techie bits and pieces that are really easy to use.