It is more car-like than others, with unique styling and a hybrid engine that sets it apart among rivals like the Volvo XC40.
It’s no coincidence that BMW, Audi and Jaguar have all rushed to launch compact SUVs in recent times. There is no other premium market segment growing faster than this one.
Lexus didn’t want to watch its competitors grab market share. That is why the company now has three SUVs in its lineup. The new UX is located below the NX, a mid-sized SUV that sits one rung lower than the RX.
Lexus estimates that around 80% of UX buyers will have never owned a Lexus before. This unique crossover has two purposes: to generate revenue short-term and to bring in new customers long-term. Although the company’s marketing team has targeted it at urban dwellers aged 30 and over, it acknowledges that there will be a large number of older couples who are looking to downsize from full-size SUVs. The Volvo XC40 is our favorite compact SUV, regardless of who the UX is aimed at.
The UX is the most car-like XC40 challenger, being a mere 68mm taller that a VW Golf and a little over 129mm shorter than a Jaguar E-Pace. The UX feels even more like a hatchback because of its low-slung seating position and very squat body. Buyers who want a high-slung seating position with a great view of the road are advised to look elsewhere.
The UX’s slender centre of gravity means that it is not as heavy as a conventional compact SUV. This allows for the car to handle with the agility and poise of a hatchback. Lexus engineers set out to achieve the same goal. They worked hard to make the car as rigid as possible, which improves safety and refinement. Composites were used for the bootlid and aluminium door skins to help keep the weight down. The two-wheel-drive hybrid UX weighs 1620kg.
Lexus describes this as a “brave design”, while others may call it overwrought. Although there are sharp angles and creases everywhere you look, it is part of a larger effort to make the UX stand apart from other premium small SUVs. Its drivetrain is quite unique, especially considering that most car manufacturers are using the same powertrain technologies. Although Lexus may be following the UX trend, it won’t be copying its competitors wholesale.
The petrol-hybrid model will not be sold in the UK. However, if there is a buyer who prefers the petrol-only model, Lexus will make it available. The majority of UK buyers will opt for the front-wheel drive model. However, the four-wheel-drive version which employs an extra electric motor to drive its rear wheels, will also be available.
What is the UX’s performance compared to other crossovers.
The UX’s cabin, in typical Lexus fashion, is full of folds, creases, and angular shapes. It also contains more plastic grades and materials than you can count. The marque’s reputation for quality and reliability is evident in the construction of this vehicle.
Did you notice the rattles and squeaks coming from both the cars we drove? We’re willing to overlook these shortcomings as the launch cars were pre-production. We won’t be so forgiving if the full production cars rattle or squeak in that same way.
The UX’s infotainment device is a deliberate attempt to stand out among the crowd. It’s not a touchscreen or a dial but rather a small, haptic trackpad close to the gearlever. You’ll be baffled by the sight of the cursor moving around on the infotainment screen. But, after a while it will start to make sense.
Is the UX able to deliver on the road?
The driving experience? It’s easy to see how this car navigates a road. This top-of the-line F Sport model, which sits on 18in wheels with optional adaptive dampers (Adaptive Variable Suspension in Lexus talk), rides with maturity and composure. Although the steering is somewhat sloppy and a bit elongated in the straight-ahead, it becomes precise and crisp with some lock.
The UX is a combination of precise steering and good body control, which makes it feel very agile in corners. Although it doesn’t flip around like a tall SUV, the UX isn’t as fun to drive.
It could also be tweeted about the things it does not do well. One example is that the brake pedal travels as far as the car’s interior materials. This hybrid system will combine regenerative brakes with conventional retardation. It is quite common to hear a roaring tyre at high speeds on motorways, even though the roads of Sweden that were used for the test are very durable.
Although the UX’s powertrain is unusual, it’s not bad. There are many things to love about the UX’s powertrain. The car’s naturally-aspirated, peaky petrol engine can sound strained under hard acceleration, especially when paired with a CVT-style gearbox. However, the hybrid system makes it quite accelerative in straight lines.
The powertrain is very smooth and can be used for short distances in almost silent EV mode. There are no cogs to change through. Although the manual gearshift mode can be quite frustrating, the CVT’s distinctive stringiness is not evident in this gearbox.
Lexus claims 65.7mpg hybrid UX, while we averaged 52mpg during mixed driving.
Is the UX a good value?
While the entry-level model is priced at less than PS30,000, the hybrid F Sport version will run in the neighborhood of PS34,000.
The UX could be a fine four-star car, but until we can confirm that the production car cockpits don’t rattle and squeak like the launch cars’, and that the UX is priced competitively with its highly capable competitors, it earns solid 3.5 stars.
It is worth your attention at least. This unusual-looking Lexus deserves five stars if we rated it purely on its individuality.