CT-200h-Blue

The facelifted Lexus CT 200h is now available in Malaysia, as seen on Lexus Malaysia’s website. The hybrid hatchback has been Lexus’ best seller here in the past few years thanks to hybrid incentives, but now that tax breaks for CBU hybrids have expired, the 2014 Lexus CT 200h starts from RM256,885 OTR without insurance, rising to RM309,436 for the Luxury spec. The CT 200h F Sport will set you back RM325,324.

Now this comes as no surprise after Toyota released new prices of the Prius and Prius c earlier this week, now priced from RM153k to RM231k with full tax applied. The Lexus CT 200h used to go for RM168,000 for the standard spec and RM202,899 for the Luxury spec. The sportier F Sport variant went for RM206,877.

It’s a substantial jump, because 2013 prices came with 100% exemption for both import duty and excise duty. Tax breaks for CBU hybrids below 2.0 litres ended on December 31, 2013. The new 2014 National Automotive Policy (NAP) gives incentives to hybrids and EV that are CKD locally assembled, with no cap on engine displacement. The RM588k Mercedes-Benz S 400 L Hybrid is a beneficiary.

Now on to the refreshed CT 200h. First seen late last year, the most obvious change is up front, where the five-door hatch now wears Lexus’ now trademark spindle grille proudly. The new rear bumper design, new alloys and shark fin-style roof antenna are less noticeable.

Inside, there’s a new IS-style steering wheel, and the instrument cluster can now be had with a 4.2-inch multi-info display. The central screen is now of a thinner, fixed design, and controls are via an updated Lexus Remote Touch Interface. The available ten-speaker sound system (Luxury) features unique bamboo charcoal resin speaker diaphragms.

The CT’s Ni-Mh hybrid system is largely unchanged, but the e-CVT system has been remapped for a more linear build-up of revs to match acceleration. Basically, to be more like a conventional automatic.

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Lexus claims that 94 measures have been made to reduce NVH. Body rigidity has been improved through additional spot welding and structural adhesives. Increased rigidity has allowed for suspension re-tuning. Coil spring rates have been optimised, a new shock absorber valve adopted, and the rear stabiliser bar diameter altered for better ride comfort. A new inlet duct silencer plate improves intake efficiency and quietness.

Your new CT 200h won’t be as common as the pre-facelift car, but should you want to stand out even further, Exceed Blue Metallic and Madder Red (or Red Mica Crystal Shine for the F Sport) are fresh and striking options. Now that Toyota and Lexus have revealed their cards, when will Honda do the same?