The Lexus UX is a five-door compact crossover SUV that’s packed with creature comforts and oozes elegance and sophistication. It’s the company’s baby of the SUV line-up but still packs a mighty punchy with its powerful hybrid technology and low centre of gravity driving dynamics.
The goodDesign, handling and economy
The badCluttered interior with clunky touchpad
Lexus UX 250h F Sport
Lexus has an enviable reputation for developing hybrid-powered SUVs to high acclaim and now the already-established NX and RX models have a baby sibling joining the ranks in the form of the all-new UX.
It’s a five-door compact crossover and it simply oozes Lexus character and DNA through and through with a distinctive design that features the manufacturer’s over-sized F Sport grille with an eye-catching mesh pattern created by individual L-shaped pieces. There are 18-inch sports wheels, jet-black trim on the front and rear mouldings, sweeping light clusters with LED daytime running lights, a rising waist line plus lots of crisp lines and creases.
Buyers can choose from three well-equipped trim levels called UX, F-Sport and Takumi with the option of adding 4×4 capability to each version.
Powering the UX is a four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine along with an electric motor that together deliver a total output of 181bhp. It is the Japanese company’s fourth-generation self-charging hybrid engine and, like its predecessors, is mated to a CVT gearbox.
Our mid-trim F Sport model was priced at £33,905 (£38,675 with options). It was the front-wheel-drive version and could reach 62mph from a standing start in a very respectable 8.5 seconds, maxing out at 110mph while delivering a combined 49.5-53.2mpg (WLTP) along the way with carbon emissions of 97g/km.
The interior of the car is feature-rich and the layout is very driver-orientated with all controls, dials and switches well positioned for ease of use. The deep red leather upholstered seats look fabulously sophisticated and can be heated, along with the steering wheel, to keep the winter chills at bay.
On board technology includes a 10.3-inch screen with Lexus navigation (complete with European mapping), a DAB radio, reversing camera with guidelines, parking sensors, a GPS clock, front and rear USB ports, dual-zone climate control with humidity sensor, plus plenty more besides. Noticeable by its absence though, is the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for full smartphone connection.
Many of the on-board systems are accessed via a touchpad with haptic responses – this takes a while to get to grips with and can be quite clunky on the move. Thankfully, there are some quick keys with shortcuts to simplify certain actions, but sometimes less really is more and this is one of those occasions.
All the instrumentation is clear and precise and the F Sport has a moveable meter ring in the tft display behind the steering wheel. This originated in the LFA supercar and allows the driver to change the content and data on show.
When it comes to performance, the UX certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s the first Lexus vehicle to be built on the company’s GA-C platform (it stands for Global Architecture – Compact). This rigid, yet lightweight structure has enabled designers and engineers to produce a car with an exceptionally low centre of gravity and that translates into great all-round capability with excellent balance, poise and handling.
In addition, the CVT transmission is both smooth and responsive. Like many similar systems it reacts well to a more gentle approach to avoid any screeching or over-revving.
Out on the open road, the UX feels composed and agile as it sweeps through bends without any sign of body sway or loss of traction into bends. It’s not as aggressive as some rival compact crossovers but the all-round performance is impressive. Also worth noting is the clever Active Cornering Assist that helps prevent any understeer.
There are various drive modes that alter the way the car reacts. For example, an EV mode comes into force when cruising or driving gently whereby the front electric motor drives the car without using any petrol. Then in Normal mode, there is a balance between fuel economy and performance. Eco mode maximises fuel efficiency and finally, Sport mode delivers faster acceleration responses for a more dynamic driving experience.
Although the UX is in theory an SUV, it is relatively compact in size and that means passenger space in the back of the car is fairly limited for taller adults. It also feels quite claustrophobic as the dynamic design of the car, complete with its rising waistline, results in small rear windows. But it is fine for children.
When it comes to storage, the UX boot can swallow 320 litres of kit, a capacity that increases further with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there’s a number of handy compartments throughout the car to hide away bits and bobs.
As one would expect from a premium car maker, the level of safety kit on the UX is plentiful with the likes Lexus Safety System+ which includes dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system, road sign recognition, automatic high beam, lane departure alert and lane tracing assist.
All in all, the Lexus UX is quite the impressive all-rounder. It oozes class and elegance, is packed with technology and performs beautifully. It may not be the ultimate thrill-seeker’s car, but it is very refined and upmarket in its design and handling.