Lexus’s new UX range recently popped up with minimal fanfare and you know what, it’s one of the best models in the Japanese luxury car maker’s stable.
I was test driving the UX250h AWD F-Sport hybrid small luxury SUV that sells against a swag of much vaunted Euro competitors that really don’t measure up to the UX on plenty of scores, not the least being fuel economy and value for money. Reliability and cost of ownership would be interesting to compare too.
UX targets a younger audience and all things being equal, it could be a love match. Older buyers will no doubt like UX too.
The test car’s lightweight AWD system features drive to the rear wheels by electric motors… very clever.
Based on a new platform, Lexus UX comes in a variety of flavours with the tester being top of the range at $61,450.
It’s about the same size as a Toyota CH-R perhaps a touch bigger and offers reasonable interior space with the customary level of Lexus refinement.
They crammed in practically everything from the Lexus inventory in terms of advanced safety tech and luxury but the most attraction for me was the strong performance coupled with fuel consumption as low as 4.5-litres/100km…. simply amazing and on regular 91 octane fuel.
Power to the front wheels is via a CVT transmission without the customary slurring characteristic. I feels a bit like a direct drive set-up in operation.
The electric powered rears are engaged on an as needed basis.
So, there’s a lot going on underneath that alluring sheet metal – a hybrid 2.0-litre petrol/electric drive “engine”, adaptive suspension and a dual drive system as well as everything else.
That’s the way of the world…..
Though it has a family Lexus “spindle” grille, on UX it isn’t completely over the top being a more agreeable size…still huge though.
It gives the UX a fairly aggressive face… a look that flows along the sides over square wheel arches with plastic infills, through a kick up in the rear doors to an upswept rear end.
There is plenty going on in terms of creases and style lines all over the car but because it’s compact, the edgy effect is carried off. On a bigger vehicle it would look crass.
About the only jarring note I found were the winglets on the outer edges of the tail lights. Someone has been spending too long in Boeing 737 jets.
Overall, it’s a striking car, really “out there” and definitely a look-at-me proposition.
Inside is more mainstream reflecting established Lexus design themes and materials.
That means neat, functional – kinda upmarket Toyota.
There’s a wide centre readout screen for the infotainment system and a pleasing horizontal look to the dash sweeping from one side to the other.
I found the trace pad “mouse” too fiddly – over sensitive making you take your eyes off the road to use it.
The leather upholstery with contrast cream highlights is soft and smooth and the lack of analogue speedo or tacho is somewhat confronting.
Paddle shift is provided as are multiple drive modes.
The rear load space is a decent size expandable with folding rear pews.
Seating capacity is four adults.
As the test 250h AWD F-Sport is top of the range, not much is left out of the package. You get:
- F-Sport adaptive suspension
- Mark Levinson premium audio
- Active sound control
- 5 drive modes
- Hands free tailgate
- Acoustic side glass
- Wireless phone charger
- Cornering lamps
- Adaptive high beam (LEDs)
- Lexus’s Enform internet system and desirable SUNA satnav
Drive and Engine
Power comes from a 2.0-litre, direct and port injection, petrol four cylinder coupled with an electric assist motor.
The petrol is good for 131kW/205Nm while the electric unit crank s out 80kW and 202Nm.
No you can’t just add them together, it doesn’t work like that.
The powertrain feels strong, about what you might expect from a conventionally powered car with perhaps 150kW and 250Nm all up.
It’s plenty for a car this size though this UX does weigh around 1650kgwith the old school Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack. Yep, still no Lithium Ion battery.
From this clever drive system, superior to any full electric vehicle, you can elicit a mere 4.5-litres/100km fuel economy and you don’t have to plug it in for eight hours over night or stop for an hour every few hundred kms of driving for a “quick” partial recharge like an EV.
It’s a clean powertrain passing stringent Eu6 emissions regulations.
Handling is sharpish and it’s fairly quiet most of the time.
The five drive modes are clearly differentiated meaning you can really feel the difference between each one.
Some of the safety tech’ is over intrusive going into panic mode with plenty of room to spare.
But they like to build in plenty of fat when it comes to these “advanced “ safety systems that take control away from a driver.
Five stars all the way and a generous level of advanced driver assist technology into the bargain.
You can see where Lexus is heading with this car and that is autonomous driving if it ever passes numerous legal hurdles and is fully resolved which it isn’t.
The all-wheel drive system adds a measure of safety thanks to improved poor weather traction while the many luxury features such as adaptive high beam contribute to lifting the load from us mere humans.
Love the traffic sign recognition and the Lexus SafetySense technology package that includes the usual kit like blind spot monitor and lane keeping assist.
Of course it has a reverse camera and no less than eight air bags.
It’s a new platform with all the goodies that brings including safety.
- Excellent fuel economy
- Sporty engine performance
- Quiet ride
- Neat dynamics
- Plenty of luxury kit
- Assertive styling
- Awesome audio
- Safety features
Not So Good Bits
- Pessimistic driver assist technology can activate too early
- Getting up there in price
- Grille is polarising
- Strange tail lights with fins
I really like the Lexus UX 250h AWD as it’s a good thing to drive. There’s plenty of punch from the engine and it has tidy handling for a small SUV. The AWD system is a clever piece of engineering but you wouldn’t take it off road. I couldn’t find out if you are allowed to tow with one.
It stands out in a crowd of competitors with cloned styling.
Facts and Figures: 2019 Lexus UX 250h AWD F-Sport
- Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder hybrid producing 131kWkW/205Nm
- Transmission: one-speed CVT
- Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $61,450