First drive: 2012 Lexus CT 200h hybrid in Dubai

First drive: 2012 Lexus CT 200h hybrid in Dubai

For those not in the know, a hybrid is a car with a petrol engine that also has an electric motor attached that provides additional power when needed and recharges its battery as the car moves, all while saving petrol, saving the environment and saving the whales. The theory goes that petrol is cheap in the GCC, so no one cares about hybrid cars. While that is definitely true, we live in the UAE, which boasts the highest petrol prices in the region and is proudly increasing prices further to match international market rates eventually. Suddenly, a hybrid doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all.

The 2012 Lexus CT 200h is the cheapest hybrid on the market, even though it is still priced on the premium side. So far, marketeers figured that only rich people wanting to make an “environmental statement” will buy one, and so the GCC market is filled with illogical hybrid versions of the BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne and others. Ironically, it is the less well-heeled who’d appreciate the fruits of lower fuel consumption that a Toyota Prius or a Honda Insight would offer. While the latter hybrids aren’t offered here, the Lexus CT 200h is about as affordable as it gets in the UAE, with the added benefit of being a luxury-branded car.

The UAE dealer for Lexus held a media launch in Dubai, with a driving event to showcase the strengths of the CT 200h. Rather than being forced in a convoy to Fujairah or Hatta, we were made to get our photos taken at four checkpoints around Dubai, with the objective of achieving the highest fuel economy and the lowest distance within two hours. Nine press teams in nine fully-optioned cars were competing, all outfitted with leather and navigation.

So I and our photographer, Faisal, drove off from the Al Badia Festival City golf resort to the Jumeirah Beach checkpoint first, taking highways for the most part, with a few signals on the way. We noticed how surprisingly comfortable the car was, largely thanks to the use of 16-inch alloys instead of even larger wheels. We were doing 90 kph on roads with a 120 kph limit, and even followed a few trucks to cut wind resistance. The engine is audible on acceleration, but when the car rolls to a stop at signals, the engine shuts off in dead silence. It seemlessly starts up again once the accelerator is pressed, with a nice kick to it.

At the first checkpoint, we went through a low-speed slalom of bamboo shoots, only to highlight the fact that the CT 200h’s speaker cones are made of bamboo. From there, we set off to the next checkpoint, which was a Starbucks branch on Jumeirah Beach road.

The CT 200h can go into full “EV” electric-only mode at the press of a button, at which point the car doesn’t use the petrol engine at all. But it only works under 40 kph, and after trundling along at 39 kph on a 70 kph road, we depleted the battery and were on engine power by the time we reached the coffee shop, surrounded by big 4x4s in the parking area. With the free coffee offered to us there, we suspect Lexus was hinting that the Starbucks-drinking crowd would be their target buyers, assuming they still have money for a down-payment after their daily coffee binges.

Armed with overpriced coffee in the cup-holders, we switched seats and set off from Jumeirah towards the Zabeel Park checkpoint. Our juice for electric-only mode was depleted, so the system refused to engage even under 40 kph. We still trundled along at 20 under the speed limit on engine power. On the shifter, there are choices for Reverse, Neutral, Drive and a mystery “B” with a “Park” button below it all. We pulled out the instruction manual to see if “B” could help us, but it turned out to be something to force engine braking on hills. The CT 200h does not have a tachometer, that being replaced by a gauge showing “Charge”, “Eco” and “Power” divisions, so our usual method of driving at constant revs wasn’t going to be easy here.

We reached the park by ignoring the navigation directions and scoping out the shortest route on the navigation map by ourselves, driving through the mildly-crowded Diyafah Street and the Trade Centre roundabout. At the checkpoint, we were shown how to check the amount of energy left in the batteries and other computer displays, just to highlight how fancy this car was. We snuck a peak at the consumption readings of other teams and we realised we were not in the lead.

So we again manually scoped out the shortest route to the next checkpoint, the Falcon Centre in Nad Al Sheba, and trundled along at maybe 50 kph all the way, past the Meydan racecourse. A man with a Shaheen falcon waited for us there to give us the lowdown on what he was holding. The only connection between the local hunting falcon and the Lexus was that they’re both hybrids. We were told one of them can do 300 kph, and we can tell you it’s not the car.

We set off from there back towards the hotel, pretty much crawling at ridiculously low speeds. Once we entered the Festival City area, we were doing 39 kph again, having regained the EV mode after automatically recharging our batteries by now. We can confirm that it was an eerily quiet ride, broken only by the regular honking of angry motorists behind us.

We apparently reached the hotel last, and the readings by the marshals at the various checkpoints were secretly tallied. It turned out the winners, our friends at CAR Middle East, managed something like 7.1 litres/100 km in 58 km. We averaged 7.7 litres/100 km in maybe 68 km. How they overtook us by such a “huge” margin is beyond us, considering they were claiming to drive hard and getting lost. They even video-filmed the winners’ announcement for your amusement. We were expecting the guy from Wheels to win, considering he was driving alone, but he wasn’t even the runner-up. The worst number of the day was an anonymous 10.5 litres/100 km, probably by a couple of women who seemed to be speeding everywhere while still seemingly overtaking us five times during the day.

So our Lexus CT 200h did not post anywhere near the touted 4.1 litres/100 km official figure. However, when you note that we drove in the city with the auto a/c on during the afternoon, it is more commendable. More than that, it is interesting that the car manages relatively economical numbers even with flat-footed drivers at the wheel.

Photos by co-driver Faisal Khatib. For prices and specs, read the Lexus CT 200h buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. interesting drive!! never thought a hybrid would hold my attention till the end of an article..

  2. is this a rwd or a rebadged prius?Whats the price?

  3. It’s a nice car even though pricey. I was a little surprised by how refined it was.

  4. By the way, the hybrid cars fuel consumption is oppositie the regular cars, they consume more fuel on highways according to EPA, and for these numbers …. come on guys its not that economical, my car, Avalon 2011, is returning 9.2 L / 100 KM, although most of my driving is highway but last full tank took me 610 KMs and when I filled the tank it took 54 liters only which is around 92 dhs only. Another issue here, you said UAE is taking fuel prices to match international levels, OK, but everytime we speak about turbo charged or direct injection engines people say they dont bring them here due to fuel quality issues, so if they want to match the prices with the world, let them match the quality first …. isnt that right???

    • Author

      Correct that hybrids are for city, not highway. As for fuel quality, the funny thing is I read somewhere that the UAE already has good fuel quality. It is bad in Saudi and some other GCC countries. Since GCC is considered one market, most carmakers make one version for the region that will work in every GCC country.

  5. You guys deserve a photography prize!

    And I wish they will bring that gear changer (electronic somehow), sat. nav. controller, and the overall interior design to other Lexus models like the IS-F.

    Good job guys.

  6. porsche guys told the ratings of fuel here are fake.they said they send special which 95octane to germany and found out its 90octane

  7. interesting ride but the rear looks like the renault velsatis. Not a bad thing though. Looks special.

  8. It looks like Zellas.

  9. how much in American money?

  10. mazda 3 hatchback for 160K 🙂

  11. on the backside i’t don’t have a wiper and in the country’s well

  12. UGLY… this was not xpceted outa Lexus

  13. lots of toyota users are shying away from fotaim uae dealer …oman is taking over…

  14. ok but just show off. suzuki sx4 hatchback 4×4 is million times better than this, its 4×4 & its hardly under 70-75 grands & its quite roomy smooth, i know its suzuki but can buy two of this

    or you can buy one this & one new kia optima sx

  15. these people just now how to make money , ( if they really like the planet to be green friendly , why dint they import toyota PRIUS?????) as a result they just want people to pay all the fuel money in advance for a lexus.. 🙂

  16. Lexus is a perfect car for sure but I hope to see Toyota Prius in the Arabic Gulf countries because one of the BEST advantage for the 2010 Prius and the newer model that is has a Solar Panel in the roof which generate electricity from the Sun to power fans inside the car to cool the interior of the car when in become hot and that can make a great deal for the buyers and to let them know the good advantages of Hybrid cars !! Anyway for those people who want to know who the Solar Panel work in the 2010 Toyota Prius they can search for it in youtube and they can look for the toyota site in the countries where Toyota prius is available. And the Solar roof system is at a good price and it come with an air condition remote to start it before you get inside the car and also the price include a panoramic roof like the ES Lexus

    Good luke guys

  17. This is one of the video about the Ventilation system by using a solar panel in the 2010 Toyota Prius

    Moreover, the price of the Toyota Prius with the Solar ventilation system is almost 50,000 derhams which make a lot of sense and also the toyota price is lighter than the Lexus Ct200h and also it has much more space inside !! Therefore, I think it’s the time for the Toyota dealer is to bring the Toyota Prius to that whole countries in the region because there is a lot of air pollution in the reigion than anywhere in the world !! That is so dangerous for the health of people animals, and it will damage the environment more !!


  18. DEAR SIR


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