I spent three days with this company car during a stay in Los Angeles. I didn't really know much about it besides 'It's a Prius underneath' and 'It is a Lexus, so probably comfy'.
It turns out, that's about all there is to know. It's a Prius and it's comfy, with all the shortcomings of the former and luxuries of the latter.
Materials & workmanship
I'm absolutely floored by Lexus' build quality and craftsmanship. The materials are wonderful, the design layout is top-notch, and even the stitching is visually perfect. This obsessive level of detail is reflected all around the car, with minuscule panel gaps, solid interior pieces, and paint coatings on parts that don't really need to be coated. I could expect this level of quality on their large luxury sedans, but they carry every bit of perfection over to their entry level hybrid hatchback.
Front seat support & comfort
Lexus design is in a class of its own. The interior layout is straight and simple, and everything is where you expect it to be. Although faced with great swathes leather and technology in front of the driver, the most noticeable feature was how comfortable the seats were. Eve in the lowest-price Lexus available sat thrones on par with top-tier German luxury. Simple, I admit, but it?s important, and Lexus has nailed it.
(Note, car driven was the 'F' Sport model, which has a supposedly 'firmed' suspension, but the effect is reportedly very minor)
Going in, I knew that the underlying power system was of Prius origin. What definitely /wasn't/ Prius, however, was the suspension. Although it was still not in the 'sporty' classification, the suspension was clear, concise, and surprisingly fun.
Lexus also did a good job of slinging the batteries as low-down in the chassis as possible. The impact of the Hybrid batteries on cargo space was practically undetectable. Plenty of room in the back for whatever you might need to haul.
It's a Prius at heart. Not much else I have to say there. The Lexus luxury (Lex-ury?) added some weight to the frame, but a 42/42 MPG rating certainly will save on gas.
Available power was sufficient, not exciting. It's a Prius base, so you have the same 134hp, but the ct200h adds an extra few hundred pounds in luxury to haul around. I found myself needing to go nearly flatout when driving on a notoriously fast local freeway.
Also, The transitions between gas and electric modes were not that intuitive, and I repeatedly experienced times where the gasoline engine would start for a mere second before powering off again. Also, the has auto-manual option for steep inclines, and the hybrid system struggled to pick the right gear and power source on its own.
The ride was rough, and I believe that it was largely due to fuel-efficient high-pressure tires and heavy batteries. The addition of a F sport suspension even further worsens the ride. There are plenty of car suspensions that can retain sportiness without being overly bumpy, and this is not one.
Driving position & visibility
The rear glass on this vehicle is more reminiscent of a submarine porthole than a true window. For a compact car used for urban driving, I?d prefer more visibility when navigating busy roads and tight parking lots.
It's not a bad car. I like it. For someone that wants a low-emissions hybrid while still enjoying a higher overall quality and experience, this is the go-to.
BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Acura also have luxury hybrids in this emerging market, however, all of the aforementioned brands have decided to deploy their hybrid tech in mid-size or full-size format. The 200h is still, by far, the most compact of them all. Plus, it's a hatchback.