The hardware’s new but it’s put to familiar use in another slightly odd Lexus SUV. By Keith Jones
FEW CARS HAVE such a zeitgeisty moniker as the Lexus UX, the Japanese luxury marque’s most compact of SUVs. Think not of ‘user experience’ but of ‘urban crossover’. It’s one size smaller than the RX, and is clearly angling for a piece of the BMW X1/ Volvo XC40 action, although it’s so lacking in height and the usual crossover ruggedness that if Lexus wanted to talk about it as a hatchback few would quibble. Like the Mercedes GLA and Infiniti QX30, it’s right on the border.
LEXUS UX250h LUXURY
Solid and sensible, but oddly impractical for families
The crisply creased steel and aluminium bodywork is striking rather than pretty; its shapes are designed to condition the airflow for efficiency gains. Under the skin there’s no diesel-engined option. In fact, the UK doesn’t even get the petrolonly UX200 – instead we receive the UX250h, where a new 2.0-litre long-stroke inline-four is mated to Lexus’s fourth-gen self-charging (nonplug- in) hybrid system. It’s good for a combined system output of 174bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds, but it never feels especially quick.
The handling is well-sorted, if unengaging in a familiar Lexus-like way. There’s decent weight to the steering, although more feedback to your palms would be welcome. Body control is well-maintained, thanks largely to the low centre of gravity. As is often the case with a Lexus, the UX feels more rewarding – and relaxed – the gentler you are with it. Consider speccing the comfort-amplifying Adaptive Variable Suspension that’s available on the Luxury version for a polished ride.
Inside it’s familiar Lexus fare, with first-rate materials stacked in many layers, sullied by the clumsy operation of the multimedia touchpad.
Although the front seats are snugly plush, the rear bench is short on room for adults, and installing child seats will be tight given the slender door openings; the boot’s tight, too. There’s an appealing, if compromised, crossover here, but whether premium customers will overlook its hatch-alike stance remains to be seen.