Lexus CT200h – Temperature, MPG and BSFC

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 8 April 2019 @ 10:29pm.

I thought since I’ve not posted for a while that I’d share some more data with you. For almost 3 years I’ve been logging every fill up at the pump to put together the graph you see above (among others).

So what is the graph showing? Simple – it’s a scatter chart between MPG from a tank of fuel versus the (roughly) average temperature during that time. (Note that the colour grading was added by me and only shows my personal acceptable ranges).

The MPG data comes directly from the mileage covered and the amount fueled, converted into miles per gallon. The temperature data is recorded at home every 60 seconds and stored in a database. I can pull the temperature for any time on any day over the last 3-4 years at home. This is the data I use for the average temperature. It’s only a rough guide, but it helps to show the pattern.

What we can see is that temperature has a very significant effect on the fuel economy of the engine and hybrid system. The warmer the ambient temperature, the more efficient they are, yielding a higher miles per gallon. Obviously this drops off the higher up the scale we go because the engine has its efficiency limits (and data up that end is limited so accuracy is lower).

You can see the relationship between temperature, MPG and the time of year on this graph:

My driving split is around 25% town and 75% motorway with typical journeys being around 15 miles. My typical motorway speed is between 60-70mph.

BSFC (Brake Specific Fuel Consumption)

Most people probably haven’t heard of this one. I’ll try to keep it as simple as I can. Here is the Wikipedia definition:

Brake specific fuel consumption (BSFC) is a measure of the fuel efficiency of any prime mover that burns fuel and produces rotational, or shaft, power. It is typically used for comparing the efficiency of internal combustion engines with a shaft output.

Commonly BSFC is expressed in units of grams per kilowatt-hour (g/(kW·h)).”– Wikipedia

So basically what it means is how much useful power can be produced for the amount of fuel injected based on engine speed and engine load.

Below are BSFC charts for the 2nd and 3rd generation Toyota Prius. The CT200h is based on the 3rd generation, so we’ll be focusing on the right hand graph.

BSFC is something I didn’t realise existed until around a year ago when I was looking on various forums to understand how the engine remained efficient. The entire system is designed around the BSFC chart to ensure that when the vehicle is being used normally, say on the motorway at a typical cruising speed of say 75mph (120km/h), it would sit in the most efficient part of the BSFC chart, producing power at its most efficient point.

This doesn’t mean that it’s producing a lot of power, but it’s producing it as efficiently as possible. In this case, it’s only producing about 22kW of power and 95Nm of torque. This is enough to cruise on a flat road as efficiently as possible.

Now, an engine can operate wildly at both sides of this in both power and torque requirements, and that’s where things start to go horribly wrong. You can very quickly fall outside of this efficiency range. Too much or too little torque, and you leave the efficiency band. Too much or too little engine RPM, and the same thing happens. This is why the hybrid system is designed the way it is – it tries to keep the engine in the most efficient part of the BSFC chart as possible.

The hybrid synergy drive eCVT gearbox is best suited to this task because of the precise control it can have over the power delivery. If it needs to load up the engine to get it into the efficiency band it can do so by generating power through MG1 and then sending that power to the wheels or the battery. Of course this still has limitations, but it’s an improvement over a regular auto or manual gearbox.

Unfortunately the nature of how we drive – speeding up, slowing down, going slow, going fast – they all put it outside of this band far too frequently. It can only manage to keep inside the efficiency band under certain conditions.

Recently I discovered that Toyota and Lexus try to help you stay in the efficient part of the BSFC chart in the most simple way they can. The power meter on the dashboard… Obvious when you think about it!

There are 3 bands – Charge, Eco and Power. The most efficient part of the BSFC chart sits within the Eco area. If you can keep your use to this area you’ll stay as efficient as possible. However, you won’t have much power to get your vehicle up to speed or go up any sizable hill, so you will need to use the power band sometimes.

Generally the rule of thumb is to accelerate as gently as possible to stay within this BSFC band, and I found that this does work after lots of experimenting. You can combine this technique with pulse and glide, general coasting, driving a little slower, and more to maximise fuel efficiency.

These days I’ve become less and less focused on the fuel efficiency because I now know what the system can do. It can still achieve fuel economy far above a regular petrol engine – I have averaged 52mpg since beginning ownership, with peaks up to 61mpg and the lowest I saw from a tank was 47mpg.

Lets be honest, you’re never going to save huge amounts of money because you’ve opted for a hybrid as you’ll offset a lot of that in the purchase cost. However the more miles you drive the more you’ll save in fuel, and you’ll pump less harmful emissions into the environment too if that’s on your personal agenda. And if you want to go one step further on that agenda, buy a fully electric vehicle instead! 🙂



2 years with the Lexus CT200h

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 22 July 2018 @ 11:01pm.

Just over 2 years ago I finally parted with a horrific car that turned into a money pit and went with a car I had been dreaming of owning for months after taking my first test drive.

So how has the last 2 years been for me? Well, lets see what I can tell you.

Cost of ownership

The cost for this car admittedly wasn’t cheap. Although I didn’t buy new, I still spent more than I initially intended to on the car. Despite this, it still worked out to be a very good deal. I have been keeping track of all costs associated with the car in a spreadsheet – I’m a bit of a data geek (freak?!).

Ignoring initial cost to buy, this is what I have spent in 2 years:

Fuel: £2096

Parts/Repairs/Servicing: £1415

This breaks down into 2 services/MOTs done by the dealer (you could get cheaper elsewhere but this gives full service history), 2 front tyres and tracking (potholes!), 12v battery (for my peace of mind, old one was OK), a set of front and rear wipers.

I also took out the 2 years extended warranty for £495 so I have included that even though I’m paying for it over 12 months. The extended warranty now means I have to use authorised servicing for it to remain valid.

That works out at £146 a month roughly minus the cost of the car purchase. Just over half of that cost is fuel (approx £85/mo).


The big phrase I always hear is “hybrids don’t work!”. Wrong, they do work. My ownership is proof to myself that they worked because even I wasn’t 100% sure they did (I took a gamble).

“But they use horrible materials that affect the environment”. Sure they do, so does any vehicle. But the gains outweigh the benefit over the lifetime of the vehicle. I have emphasised this because this is the bit people miss. It works over its lifetime, not immediately.

Anyway down to the point.

My average fuel economy over 2 years and 20456 miles has been… 52.2MPG (UK). This figure was calculated manually through filling the tank full each time. For those wondering, the car thinks it was doing 56.3MPG which is about 4.1MPG too high. Most cars will tend to over-read. My last car by comparison managed about 42-46mpg (winter-summer) and no higher no matter how much I tried.

I should add that I never turn my air conditioning off either, so these figures are with a/c on all year around.

Here is a ALL of my data that I have recorded over the 2 years:

Download: Lexus CT200h Fuel Tracker July 2016 – July 2018 (Excel Spreadsheet)

My best MPG I have ever achieved was 61.1MPG in August 2016 shortly after getting the car. This was driving at 70mph on the motorways for about 150 miles. I did use cruise control.

More recently during the May 2018 heatwave here in the UK I did two 250 mile trips and I managed 57.7MPG (UK) and 58.8MPG (UK). I was driving at 70mph (using cruise control) on A roads and motorways for the majority of the journeys and the average outdoor temperature was easily over 20 degrees celsius for both journeys. Higher outdoor air temperature massively helps economy for most cars but more so hybrids because they heat up quicker and the hybrid battery is more efficient at those temperatures.

In all of the above journeys I made no attempt to ‘hypermile’, it’s just what it achieved through normal driving and use of cruise control. Yeah, it impressed me too…


At first the eCVT gearbox felt odd. No other car I had driven acted the way this gearbox does but you soon get used to it. The engine does scream a little bit but again you get used to it.

Being a bit of a geek I familiarised myself with the way the car worked – I looked for how the gearbox worked, how the hybrid system interacts with the way you drive, how it behaves, etc. Now that I know how it works I was able to be aware of situations that affect the way it works positively and negatively.

The biggest factors I have found are temperature and gliding.

Temperature outdoors affects the hybrid system negatively. It affects the engine and the battery so both run less efficiently. In cold weather when you need heat the engine has to run to produce that heat, so you lose economy. Some newer hybrids use heat pump systems (reverse air conditioning) to give cabin heat without the engine running which is 400% more efficient than resistance heating elements alone, then the efficiency savings on top of not burning fuel. Since the engine is very thermally efficient it takes longer to get warm, but once the engine is able to turn off it will regain some of the lost efficiency.

I’ll say this immediately – if you do short journeys most of the time then a regular hybrid won’t be beneficial for you. Get a plug-in hybrid or EV instead.

Gliding – this is the process of getting up to speed using the engine and then either using the battery power to maintain your speed or you coast until you need to speed up again. The latter being the most efficient method but also the more demanding of your attention. Using battery is still more efficient at lower speeds than the engine. Sadly the CT200h only drives for about 1 mile using battery power before the engine has to recharge it. It’s best to time using battery power so that you can recharge what you have used when the engine has to be on anyway at higher speeds or inclines.

Regen braking is a new one to get used to as well. This uses the motor as a generator to charge the battery, capturing energy which would otherwise be lost in the brakes. This causes drag slowing the car down. By about 6mph the car switches back to regular brakes to come to a complete stop. This transition is usually not noticeable but sometimes you do feel it grab a bit more than it perhaps should. I’d prefer this over it not working as effectively however.

Which brings me to another point – sometimes you will lose regen completely while braking which happens if the ABS kicks in. To prevent the wheels locking it cuts off regen and switches to normal brakes seemlessly. However you do notice a slight ‘lurch’ as it switches over because it’s not instant. It’s a common complaint that has never been addressed because it’s classed as normal operation. Thankfully the CT200h has emergency brake assist which means if you hit the pedal hard quickly it will give you added braking force automatically. This system has saved me once or twice too.

You do get used to its quirks but for the most part it works great.

In terms of general driving, the car is a dream to drive. It’s smooth in every way, it’s firmly stuck to the road, and it’s quiet unless you’re really giving it some right foot.

How would I change the car if I could?

There are a few things I’d improve if I could.

  • Hybrid power delivery – Sometimes it feels like the hybrid system could use the battery more, especially when climbing hills or during moderate acceleration. I believe this might have been addressed with the latest 2.0L hybrid system from Toyota/Lexus which we’ll see in the new Toyota Auris and some Lexus models. I did read somewhere that this was a common complaint so they’d addressed it. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s true.


  • Also, the battery can’t provide a lot of power. It can only do about 34HP and only when its fully charged and only up to about 25mph (temperature dependent). And you have to use the EV mode button which doesn’t always work as it’s picky about temperature and battery state of charge. I’d like to see it do this throughout the battery range and up to speeds of 40mph for local driving.


  • Hybrid battery capacity – 1 mile range is alright, but it would be nice to see a larger battery that could allow 3-5 miles of electric only driving for example. That would mean I could go shopping and back without the engine firing up since it takes about 1-2 miles for the engine to get up to an efficient working temperature anyway. For short journeys it avoids that problem. This would be mid-way between a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.


  • Heat pump heating – I know this is in newer models already but it would’ve been nice to see in all models too. It seems such an obvious solution to the heating issues in winter.


  • Regen braking – The car has regen braking but it’s not very strong. I’d like to see that improved by at least 2 or 3 times. I believe the current regen is restricted by the charging speed of the battery, so perhaps this issue could be supplemented with super capacitors or a larger battery.

Did I make the right choice?

Yes! I love the car. I did a lot of research before I bought it and I’m happy with what I got. I went into it with as much knowledge as possible and it’s not let me down on my expectations to date, despite the improvements I would like to see having owned it a while.

I’m not sure what else to add, so I’ll leave it there. I know this blog is a bit all over the place (I’m making this up as I go – I never had a structure when I started out!). But hopefully it’s given you some insight into ownership.




Hybrids in hot and cold weather – 1 year with the Lexus CT200h

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 2 July 2017 @ 8:06pm.

I’ve had my Lexus CT200h for 1 year now, and in that time I have been logging my fuel economy on a spreadsheet so that I can get an idea of how it performs over the year with different driving types and different temperatures.

Here are some notes to add before we look at the data:

  • Most of my driving is commuting 15 miles per direction, and I tried to average around 60mph for the majority of this 1 year period for the sake of this test.
  • Long journeys, which I do a few times a year, were done at 70mph.
  • Short journeys to the supermarket once or twice per week.
  • In March 2017 I did barely any driving, but this shouldn’t have impacted the data.
  • I was using “pulse and glide” after I discovered it, for the majority of the year.


Hopefully most this table should be self explanatory. Discrepancy is the difference between what MPG the car said it got and what was worked out on a fill up.


The graph looks complicated but is quite simple.

  • The green bars represent the real MPG as calculated by filling the tank
  • The red bars represent the MPG the car said it was getting.
  • The blue line is a representation of outdoor temperature calculated by taking 2 values, the minimum and maximum temperatures during that tank of fuel, and averaging them. It’s not an accurate representation of outdoor temperature (I would have to log it all the time to do that) but an average representation so you can see a trend.
  • The dark orange line is the average discrepancy in MPG between the actual MPG and what the car said it was getting.
  • The purple line is the discrepancy for that tank of fuel.
  • The black line is a running average MPG calculated over the last 3 tanks, to make it easier to compare with temperature.


OK, how you’ve had a second to digest the data on the graph, lets talk about it.

What is the first thing we can tell from this data?

Plain and simply, hybrids work better when it’s warmer. Why? Because the engine gets up to working temperature quicker and which means it can shut off the engine earlier so the electric part of the hybrid system can do what it is designed to do. You can apply this rule to pretty much any vehicle.

Why is there a discrepancy between the displayed and actual MPG?

This can be caused by a few things, with the most likely being speedo calibration. The vehicle reads about 4mph too high at 66mph (so it’s reading 70mph at this point) as checked by GPS, which is a 5.8% difference. Tyres can cause this but I just got new tyres and it looks to be the same (though I haven’t checked it accurately, only via the speed limit symbol on the GPS turning red when you speed). Most cars in the UK over read very slightly.

This 5.8% is mostly accounted for in the 5-9% discrepancy that we see in the data (I’ll share the full Excel document at the end of this blog which contains more data). The remaining could be put down to tyre pattern and pressures, weight in the vehicle, etc.

Once you know roughly how far out your vehicle is, it’s easy to take the reading and subtract a few MPG to get the real MPG.

What economy do I get at XX mph?

As a rough estimate based on my observations:

  • <35mpg in town on a short journey from cold
  • >50mpg in town if engine is warm
  • ~53mpg at 60mph on a 15mi journey
  • ~53mpg at 70mph on a long journey


These figures will change based on your driving style, how much you demand from the heating or A/C, weight, tyre pressures, your driving route, etc.

What average economy do I get?

According to all of the data that I have collected, which is every fuel-up for 1 year, and with a mix of driving types and speeds, I saw an average of 52.2mpg over the 12 month period. This is 30% below the rated 74.3mpg combined rating, which was expected because these ratings are recorded under artificial conditions.

The highest I saw was 61.1mpg on a long journey at 70mph, where I barely had to change speed for 150 miles and it was pretty warm. I don’t know if this was fluke or real, but I have never managed an MPG this high since. Temperature has only just reached similar conditions recently so this is likely why.

Everything else aside, 52.2mpg is impressive for a vehicle running a petrol engine, and outperforms many diesel vehicles too.

My previous car, a VW Passat 2.0 TDI was managing around 44-46mpg. I have friends with diesel vehicles such as a Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCI which averages around 45mpg.

Whilst there are cars out there that will do more than 52.2mpg, chances are they aren’t doing it whilst abiding by emissions laws (remember the whole dieselgate scandal from VW).

The average economy of the CT200h on shows as being around 49mpg, which means that I was driving a little above the average economy wise, probably due to going most places at 60mph for this test.

2013 Lexus CT200h average fuel economy. Source:


So, do hybrids really work? Yes, they do, at least in my personal experience. But there are still conditions under which they’ll perform no better than any other car, with the biggest being in cold weather and short journeys. If you have a particularly heavy right foot all the time you may also not see much benefit, but I can’t testify to that.


Lexus CT200h – 1 year of economy data – 50KB



Hybrid vehicle economy in warmer weather

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 6 March 2017 @ 4:15pm.

I wrote a post in the past about how cold temperature affects hybrid vehicle economy. Now that it’s turning to spring and the temperature is beginning to increase, there has been a noticeable change in direction on my MPG vs temperature graphs.

Though it’s not a lot, the change is there, and it’s felt noticeably warmer too. I’ll continue to keep this data recorded and continue to update here.

I suppose the takeaway from this so far is that colder weather does negatively affect the MPG due to the engine needing to run more often, and that combined with running richer when colder means that more fuel is used overall.

I guess the solution to this problem could come in many forms (if we’re talking about keeping the ICE alive and not going EV):-

Additional engine heating – The engine is very thermally efficient, which means it takes longer to heat up. This efficiency is only good however when the engine is already warm, otherwise the engine has to run rich (use more fuel) until it is warmed up. It would be interesting to see if adding electrical heating that runs from the hybrid system to heat up the oil and coolant would significantly improve efficiency for shorter journeys, by getting those fluids and the engine up to temperature quicker. While it would of course use more energy, would this be offset by getting it up to its efficient operating range quicker? In winter it might well do, but at the expense of additional hardware. It might not pay for itself over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Bigger battery and electric cabin heating – If the battery were higher in capacity then it would be possible to use electric for cabin heating, either through resistive heating or a heat pump (more efficient than resistive in many cases), thus allowing the engine to stop when it’s viable to do so. I believe this can happen at above 50*c coolant and oil temperature. This means that all heating could go into the engine coolant and oil, it will work a little harder to generate electricity for the cabin heating, which also adds heat into the engine for the additional load. Perhaps this is all a little excessive for the gain? I’m sure Toyota/Lexus did the math on that one! However I do know that heat pump heating on EV’s is significantly more efficient than resistive in a lot of climates, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to add that to hybrid vehicles to supplement the cabin heating in cold weather. After all it’s just a modification to the A/C system…

No doubt my ideas were thought of and dismissed for cost reasons by Toyota but I’ve not read anything about either anywhere to date, so who knows!



Save Fuel with Hybrid Vehicle Pulse & Glide

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 18 December 2016 @ 1:09am.

What is pulse and glide?

Pulse and glide is a fuel saving technique used primarily by hybrid vehicle hyper-milers, but after driving a hybrid for a while you can make it normal driving habit and its completely safe too (unlike other techniques used by non-hybrid vehicle hyper-milers).

How does it work?

It works by keeping the engine on only whilst it is doing useful work in its efficiency range. Outside of this, such as minimal acceleration to maintain a set speed, is wasteful because it is operating in an inefficient power range. Put simply, the engine is using more fuel to keep itself running and overcome internal friction and compression than fuel used producing useful propulsion.

Here is how it works in bullet points:

  • Use the engine at its efficient RPM (in my case 2000-2500rpm) to produce useful propulsion.
  • Get up to just above your desired speed, then let off the accelerator so that the engine can stop.
  • Accelerate just enough to overcome regenerative braking, but don’t use the electric portion of propulsion. Keep it as close to zero acceleration and zero braking, as if you were in neutral.
  • When your speed drops too low, accelerate again up to just above your desired speed, and repeat.

Why does it work?

Here are some reasons why it works:

  • Manual and automatic transmission vehicles have engine drag or use fuel to idle when you come off the accelerator or put it into neutral.
  • In a hybrid the engine can stop because it can decouple the transmission from the engine so that there is zero engine drag and zero fuel use when it turns off.
  • In a hybrid, the battery power must come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the engine. You want the engine to only charge the battery whilst you’re using it for useful propulsion at the same time, keeping it in its efficiency range. Pulse and glide allows this because you avoid using excessive battery power, plus you can still recapture some energy used during the glide through regenerative braking as well as engine recharging during your next pulse.

What sort of results should you expect?

It will vary depending on the speed, your driving style, the terrain and a few other factors such as whether your engine is warm (so it is able to turn off, and when it is on is operating as efficiently as possible).

Lets assume for my example that its a sensible 30mph with a smooth driving style, relatively flat roads and a fully up to temperature engine:

I found that when not using pulse and glide I was depleting my hybrid battery from full to almost zero in the 1.5 miles where I am able to use electric power on my last leg of my journey home. I was using the engine to get to 30mph (as the electric acceleration is wasteful of battery and is very slow) and then using electric to maintain that speed. By the end of the 1.5 miles my battery was depleted.

With pulse and glide, my hybrid battery stayed almost completely full by the end of the 1.5 miles, and the engine was on for only another few seconds each time I was pulsing up to around 35mph. This offsets the several minutes the engine would need to run to re-charge the battery (whether under useful propulsion or not).

With pulse and glide my displayed MPG was not affected so much, mostly because the way the car calculates MPG doesn’t change between electric use and gliding (it assumes 99.9+MPG). But it will definitely increase it in the long term because you’re not having to use extra fuel to recharge the battery because you didn’t deplete it in the first place.

My use of pulse and glide is limited most days because of my engine being cold and because most of my driving is on motorways where pulse and glide doesn’t really work. However during around town driving the more you can use it the better the effects on your MPG.

It takes a little practice and definitely requires patience, but once you have mastered it you’ll see the benefits quite quickly. I imagine it will work best in summer though when the engine can get up to temperature quicker (and stay there longer). Using the engine for heat is the biggest downside to most hybrids as when the engine cools it must run to reheat itself regardless of your use of its power!



Lexus CT200h: How the cold affects MPG

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 12 November 2016 @ 11:48pm.

I have a slight obsession with my MPG and I’ve been tracking it regularly using What I have noticed is now that the weather is beginning to get cooler the average MPG is getting lower. I expected this would be the case when I got the car so it’s not a shock to me. However since I was tracking the MPG anyway I decided to also track temperature too.

*Graph updated 22/02/2017

As you can see clearly, the average temperature (blue) has been dropping as we enter autumn/winter, and the average MPG (black) has also begun to drop as well.

So why does this happen? A couple of reasons actually…

  1. The engine runs less efficiently when cold and it takes longer to heat up, so extended warm-up times means it runs less efficiently and for longer.
  2. The engine must run even when its not moving the vehicle to generate enough heat for the climate control, so the vehicle occupants can stay warm.
  3. The hybrid battery is less able to provide power when cold, so it doesn’t help as much.


However it is surprising that on a short 15mi journeys, which is what 90% of my journeys are to work during the week, that I am still managing over 50mpg. Not bad for a 1.8L petrol! Some diesels would be lucky to see that, and a non-hybrid petrol wouldn’t come close.

I’ll continue to log this as we go into winter and it gets colder, and I’ll make a further blog post in the future. I do suspect that I will see a dip below 50mpg at some point when it gets colder, but for now it’s still impressive. The Passat, even for a diesel, was lucky to average 46mpg during summer and got even less in winter.



2 months with the Lexus CT200h

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 7 September 2016 @ 10:49pm.

I’ve had my CT200h for just over 2 months now so I thought I’d write a quick update on how I was finding it.


To put it in short, I love it. For all the wrong reasons to some people mind you, but I love it.

Now I’m not a car guy at all, but I appreciate cars of all types, be it big petrol drinking V8’s, diesels, hybrids or electric. That is why I say I enjoy my car for the wrong reasons. It doesn’t make a pleasant noise when you put your foot down, or give hundreds of horse power worth of smiles, but I enjoy driving and cars in general.

Let me explain why I like the CT200h so much…


First of all, it’s so incredibly easy to drive. This is my first automatic car, and not having to change gear anymore takes some of the unpleasantness out of daily driving. Since 99% of my driving is commuting, going to see friends, going shopping, etc, I have no interest in changing gear all the time. Going for a play however is a different ballpark. I’d love to have a manual. Unfortunately there is no semi-auto mode in this car because of how the gearbox works either. This said, I haven’t actually taken it on a ‘joy ride’ around some nice twisty roads or anything yet because I’ve not had the time. Despite this, the gearbox is silky smooth because it’s not physically changing gears since it’s an electronic CVT gearbox.

Ride and Handling

Next up is the ride. It’s by all means not a massively comfy ride. It’s pretty firm, but I actually find that I don’t mind that. I’ve driven on various road types in the last 2 months and I really don’t mind the firmness at all. It’s a common complaint with the CT200h but I honestly don’t see why. Because of the firm ride it feels like its sticking to the road very well (the huge tyres probably help too) and that’s a nice comfort some how. Steering input is also very sharp but the electronic power steering assist does take a little bit of feel away so it feels lighter than it should sometimes.


Now the one that no car guy would ever care about (remember, I’m not a car guy!). Economy. For a 1.8L petrol, it’s incredibly economical. On a recent 150mi run on the motorway I stuck to 70mph for the majority of the time and managed an astonishing 61.1mpg. I didn’t just use the car readout, I actually did it from a full tank and then filled up again to work it out. I won’t lie, I expected low 50’s from a motorway run so to get 61.1mpg was quite frankly amazing. The atkinson cycle engine coupled to the hybrid system clearly works far more efficiently than people realise. A lot of people I speak to are all “Oh it won’t be good on a motorway, it’ll only get good MPG around town!”. Clearly they’re wrong! Even shorter journeys to work which for me is 15 miles each way, I still manage a sensible 56-58mpg (at least during the summer months, it’s reported to be lower in winter).

One thing I have found is that if you do short journeys with a cold engine it still sucks for economy just like any other car would. Until the engine is up to temperature it has to run more often even when it’s not needed, wasting fuel. So for short runs to the shops all the time with no longer journeys don’t expect much in the way of economy. A trip to the local ASDA at around 1 mile each way with a cold engine I saw a horrible 36mpg or so on the display. You can’t use EV mode the whole way there and back either because it won’t last that long (it’s rated at about 1 mile from a full charge and that power has to come from somewhere when it runs out – your cold and inefficient engine!).


Next up is power. Sure, there isn’t a lot of it, but 136HP combined engine and hybrid is plenty for overtaking when you put your foot down. On my motorway drive I never once found it lacking. It makes plenty of noise as you put your foot down and the RPM rises to 5000rpm and stays there as your speed increases (and yes it sounds really weird thanks to the e-CVT gearbox…), but the power delivery is very good. What you do have to watch out for though is if you’re doing lots of hard accelerations in a short time the hybrid battery can run down to the point where it can’t supply that extra power. It’s never going to happen under normal driving with the occasional overtake, but just be aware. Your 136HP can quickly fall off to 98HP! I’ll test that around some country roads some time and see if it really affects it, but I imagine only on a track would you see it happen often.


What about space? It’s definitely much smaller than the VW Passat that’s for sure. But for my every day use it’s more than big enough. I’ll be attending an event in the near future which will require significant luggage being put into the car so I’ll see if it can handle that without a problem then. For going to camping for example I imagine it’ll be just fine with my own stuff, perhaps a 2nd persons supplementing, but definitely no more than that.


So overall, I love the car. Its really well built with no rattles (I should hope so too for a 3 year old car), it drives amazingly, it’s super quiet especially at lower speeds, and it’s fun to drive. Yes, hybrids can be fun to drive! Yes, yes, I’m not a car guy, I’ll shush. But seriously, don’t knock it till you try it for yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised…



The Passat is no more! Bring on the Lexus CT200h

Posted by under Hybrid & EV Vehicles, on 14 July 2016 @ 8:37pm.

I finally did it! Just over 4 years since buying the piece of crap that was my VW Passat, I finally got rid of it. I’ve replaced it with a Lexus CT200h petrol hybrid hatchback. Yes, that’s the one I mentioned in a previous blog about test driving. I’ve been loving every minute of it and actually look forward to my next drive!




It’s a 2013 model with just under 20,000mi on the clock. It has a 1.8L Atkinson cycle engine producing 98BHP (73kW), coupled with an 80HP (60kW) hybrid electric system which can boost the total output to 136BHP (it doesn’t do 178HP as you might think given the numbers because the battery can’t supply all 80HP to the motor, the engine supplements some of this power to give extra pulling torque). 0-62 is in around 10.4 seconds which isn’t too shabby. The Passat did it in 9.6 seconds but it had double the torque too. Due to it being an automatic it feels like it gets there quicker (it probably does as well!).


OK so of course this was going to be one of the biggies that I talked about. Why else would you buy a hybrid other than to boast about your great MPG’s? Well so far all I’ve done is mostly trips to work and a few other things like shopping and the odd trip to friends houses, but despite these relatively short journeys (under 15 miles) I am still managing an average of around 58mpg. Though I’m often seeing higher on single trips to work and back (like the 67.2mpg below), the average is obviously reduced by some shorter journeys that I do. The rated MPG is 78mpg (yeah right, maybe if you do 30mph everywhere!) but you never get what they rate it at. You’d be lucky to get 75-80% of what they say. I still need to see what I get on a long journey on the motorway too.

It will be interesting to see what the actual mpg is when I fill up the tank this weekend as I am still using my first tank of fuel. I’m hopeful it will be close to what the display says. The real average in the Passat was usually around 43-46mpg (the display would read 7mpg too high) and that was whilst being gentle with it. It looks like not even being gentle on the throttle with the CT200h still yields great MPG in comparison. If it gets a real 55mpg average or more, I’ll be more than happy.



It’s a brilliant car to drive, period. It’s very smooth and relaxing, with no gears to change (it’s a e-CVT transmission – you can learn about how it works here). The transition from electric to engine sometimes results in a small jerk or lurch which as a driver you notice but soon learn to ignore it. My passengers say they couldn’t feel a thing. Understanding how the e-CVT works helps you understand why it happens by the way, so give the link above a read and play with the interactive diagram.

Sticking the car into sport mode definitely makes it punchier. A lot of people say this is a slow car, but it’s really not. It’s just as quick as the Passat was but it does lose some top end due to the lower torque. This hasn’t bothered me so far though.

In electric mode, it’s silent. The engine doesn’t run unless it needs to, and it switches to electric whenever it can below 40mph. Being in electric mode is where you save the most fuel and boost your MPG’s, so if you’re below 30mph you’ll find yourself in electric mode a fair bit unless the battery is low. It’ll give you about 1 mile of electric driving at 30mph which isn’t too bad. It’s rare I’ve seen it deplete all the way that it requires the engine to come on. It’s definitely giving me a somewhat smug feeling whenever it is using electric, but I’m sure that’ll wear off, right?!

So what are my overall impressions so far? Well it’s certainly smaller than the Passat, by a long way in fact. But I knew this when buying it. I don’t need a large car for the majority of the year bar trips camping and epic.LAN, so I saw no need to buy one so large. Even with a car this size I can still get away with those trips without a problem. I also knew when buying a new car that I wanted an automatic. I’m bored of changing gears all the time except when I want to have a play, and I don’t do that often, so a manual wasn’t on my list of requirements. That said, if you want a hybrid you have no choice but to get an automatic as the fundamentals of a hybrid just don’t work with a manual.

Lexus themselves

My impressions of Lexus themselves were fairly great too. I bought the car just 2 days after it came in from the previous owner finished their PCP contract and got their new car, so they didn’t have time to fully refurbish things like the alloy wheels, which were a little worse for wear on the edges. Presumably the last owner liked to scrape kerbs whilst parking. In any case, Lexus arranged for a week later to take the car back and have that sorted. They look like brand new, and it didn’t cost me a penny extra. They even took me to work and collected me again whilst it was with them. I could have had a courtesy car if I needed one, but I work in an office so there was no need.

And the guy I dealt with the whole time was friendly too (probably because he just sold a car!) but he seemed pretty genuine. I hope I can continue to get that sort of service during my whole ownership.

I’ll be using Lexus for servicing so I can keep both the warranty intact as well as the full service history. It’ll help the resale value when I come to get a new car years down the line (especially if I stay with Lexus). Also since the car is incredibly technology complex, if anything goes wrong they can’t blame it on any 3rd party work and have any excuse to reject any warranty claims (not that they’ll likely be needed since it’s an incredibly reliable system).


That’s all I have for now, but no doubt I’ll make another blog in the future about the car and how it works.