Can't Get You Out of My Head

When Lexus planted a certain Ms Minogue to front a launch campaign, you can’t help but sit up and pay attention.

Not solely for the obvious reasoning that the pint-sized Aussie still oozes elegance but for such a bold (and costly) statement from the luxury marque. So, what did they have to say? In fact, Lexus were launching not just a new car but a new style of driving altogether – indeed the ‘Quiet Revolution’ and the age of the hybrid.

hy-brid car
Noun: A car with a petrol engine and an electric motor, each of which can propel it.

Let’s dispel common misconceptions – a hybrid isn’t a plugin drive 10 miles and plugin again car. The hybrid, it’s in the name, is part engine, part electric motor and part nickel metal battery. Lexus’ CT 200h (the one cushioning Kylie in the advert) is one such hybrid and one I was kindly invited to drive and learn a new form of driving.

As with all hybrids on the market, the CT offers a highly efficient way of recouping braking energy as electricity, which means it has excellent fuel consumption in town, and is also capable of running for short distances on electricity alone. And here’s a world first, I am told…

Lexus HQ boasts the CT’s ability to drive in EV (electric only) mode up to 28mph until the engine kicks in. However - hold tight - I was shown how to drive on pure electric at 45mph!

Admittedly you have to be clever and gentle on the throttle but I experienced it first-hand. That’s not all. You can achieve up to 70 miles to the gallon. There is a technic to this sort of driving but for the fuel-conscious consumer it is undoubtedly a huge selling point.

For the less conscious driver, it easily switches into sport mode that releases the system's full 650 volts and changes the rev counter display just for good measure. The drive is comfortable aided by the side supports and you’re reminded you’re driving a luxury brand by the leather interior with soft-touch plastics and aluminium inserts wrapped up with a stylish facia.

While the 375-litre boot is shallow, fold the seats and it expands to 985 litres plus its hidden compartment adds a few extra litres for a laptop.

The CT 200h is a stunning looking car that catches the eye and being a Lexus you don’t see one at every roundabout, which sets it apart from its rivals the Audi A3 and BMW 118d.

So getting Ms Minogue is not a bad gamble, in fact I’m told she has been the catalyst for a substantial shift of buyer behaviour and perceptions. A good choice of endorsement to appeal to the buyer that wants to feel classy and confident when she steps out to her lunch meeting - while quietly saving the planet.

Would I buy one? I should be so lucky.

 PRICE/ON SALE From £23,485 OTR (20pc VAT)/March 2011

POWER/TORQUE Engine: 97bhp/104lb ft - Electric motor: 81bhp/153lb ft

TOP SPEED 113mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 10.3sec

FUEL ECONOMY 68.9mpg (Combined)

CO2 EMISSIONS 96g/km