Lexus goes compact

with new UX SUV

Lexus UX, 2019, front
Lexus UX, 2019, nose
Lexus UX, 2019, side
Lexus UX, 2019, rear
Lexus UX, 2019, interior
Lexus UX, 2019, instrument panel
Lexus UX, 2019, gear lever
Lexus UX, 2019, engine
Lexus UX, 2019, boot
Lexus UX, 2019, rear seats

ACCORDING to Lexus the sound of a door closing on its new UX compact crossover is a defining moment.

A good clunk signifies quality, so Lexus engineers spent many, many hours creating what they claim is the perfect noise for their baby SUV.

And that is indicative of the degree of attention which has gone into the new UX which will be on the road towards the end of March and priced from £29,900.

The UX will be up against the likes of the Audi Q2, BMW X1 and Volvo XC40 and a three model line up tops out at £39,100 for a high specification model in Takumi trim.

In between are sporty looking F-Sport versions priced from £33,900 - but bolster their specification with option packs and you are getting close to Takumi price.

All-wheel-drive models cost an extra £1,250 and special paint jobs can add up to a further £820 pushing the price of the UX F-Sport we tried to beyond £40,000.

For a little SUV that is top dollar and while the UX may have all the right style ingredients and the attraction of low emissions from hybrid powertrains it is compromised on practicality.

Boot space is only for a couple of cases and rear seat room is not that generous for adults.

Officially the UX has a 320 litre boot and that reduces to 283 with four-wheel-drive - and that is less than you get in a Ford Fiesta.

In the UK all versions of the UX will be hybrid and powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor with a continuously variable transmission.

Four-wheel-drive models are fitted with an extra motor to drive the rear axle - hence the reduction in cargo space - but it's not for off-roading and the system is more for extra grip in everyday conditions.

With a total power output of 181bhp the UX is good for 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds and tops out at 110mph.

Paddle shifters have been calibrated to give the car the car an artificial six speeds but left to its own devices there is still some rush under acceleration.

Performance is adequate - especially for a small SUV - and fuel economy at best for the front-wheel-drive UX is rated at 53.3mpg and 48.7 for the 4x4.

That equates to CO2 emissions of 94 and 103g/km respectively which gives the UX an edge, particularly for business users.

On our drives in the UX we actually exceeded those figures and averaged 50 to the gallon in the 4WD F-Sport and 54mpg for a Takumi model with front-wheel-drive.

Variable drive modes are standard on the F-Sport and change the steering feel and suspension in the sports setting giving the car a little more dynamism.

From a driver's perspective the UX is fully kitted and the top range models we tried included a head-up display, an electronic parking brake with auto hold function and a 10.25-inch central display screen for the sat nav and infotainment.

The F-Sport also has Lexus' clever instrument panel which moves the dial to one side revealing a TFT screen in certain modes.

Other classy touches include wireless illumination on the air vent controls and the opportunity of fitting ‘washi' paper effect trim inlays to the dash.

And for the record, the door sound and closing action is nicely satisfying proving Lexus has done the job on that front.

The UX - it stands for urban crossover - slots into the Lexus SUV line up below the NX and RX models which last year accounted for more than half of the brand's 11,250 sales in the UK.

With the UX on stream in the booming compact sector Lexus has its sights on broadening its presence considerably.

It aims to double its annual sales in Britain within the next three years and while the UX may not be the most family-friendly of compact SUVs it has plenty of premium features which are likely to see it play a large part in those expansion plans.

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