Lexus UX hybrid
By Bill McCarthy
It would be some surprise if a Lexus didn’t have eye-catching looks, even in the form of an SUV.
The firm says the UX hybrid presents a premium vehicle with innovative luxury and safety in a package that combines bold new designs and the fourth generation of parent firm Toyota’s self-charging hybrid system, featuring a two litre petrol engine mated with electric motor.
This combo, delivers a combined 181bhp for excellent economy, lowish emissions and at times sporty performance – not forgetting the practicality offered by and SUV. It can hit 60mph in a shade over eight seconds, which is pretty sharp acceleration, while the driver can select from three drive modes via a rotary knob on the side of the steering column.
It is the first Lexus to be constructed using the new Global Architecture – Compact (GA-C) platform, with lightweight, rigid structure. Combined with low centre of gravity and Lexus’s Adaptive Variable Suspension, it feels particularly stable when cornering, a big bonus for an SUV.
It does look good and features all the usual stylish light clusters, sharp edged styling and body creases long associated with the brand. These include the signature deep grille and lower spindle grille with an eye-catching new mesh pattern.
The wheel arch mouldings surrounding the 18-inch alloys on this model are designed to protect the bodywork from gravel thrown up by the tyres, they also give the motor a slightly rugged appeal, although off road is not an option on this model, but it does look good at the school gates.
The interior has a real high-end feel with a mixture of leather and chrome and and the semi wraparound dash has the feeling of a cockpit. Luxury extends throughout the cabin. For example, the three-spoke steering wheel and analogue clock are from the Lexus LS flagship saloon
Controls include a in a seven-inch TFT display which display power readings from the hybrid and the Lexus Remote Touch Interface on the central console next to the gearshift, which is a touchpad/keypad controller. I found it a bit fiddly getting the cursor in the right position, but it’s a clever bit of kit, designed to mimic common phone gesture controls, such as double tapping and flicking.
Centrepiece is 10.3-inch multi-function screen controlling navigation, infotainment and connectivity, including Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, and also monitoring how the hybrid system is working. The interior also includes white LEDs illuminate the front footwells, glovebox, and console switches and are featured in the dome light, map lights and cargo area light.
Toyota are no slouches with hybrid technology after the initial success of the Prius all those years ago. Depress the EV button when driving slowly and the front electric motor runs the car from the hybrid battery to deliver zero emissions. In real-world city driving it can use electric power for a significant proportion of every journey – up to 55 per cent, depending on the driving conditions, says the firm.
Increase speed and the engine cuts in while still receiving assistance from the electric motor when required. Under hard acceleration, the electric motor instantaneously supplements the performance, but the transmission can get a bit noisy before calming down.
For practicality, it goes without saying that an SUV is practical, even the more compact models like this one. It features standard roof rails for extra cargo capacity, while the folding, tumbling seats offer cargo space from 320 up the 1,231 litres of space. There are also other cubby holes, large central bin and various other compartments.
All models are packed with equipment, with this model including 18-inch alloy wheels, reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, heated, multi-function steering wheel, rear privacy glass, integrated heating in the front seats and steering wheel and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
The comprehensive safety kit includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control , lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, and automatic high beam. In addition there is a full complement of airbags and hill start assist.
This is a premium car and as electric power continues to take over, it has plenty to offer.
Lexus UX Premium pack with Navi
Mechanical: Combined 181bhp, 2,487cc, four cylinder petrol engine and electric motor driving front via CVT auto gearbox
Max speed: 110mph
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Combined mpg: 49-53 (WLTP)
Insurance group: 22E
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles