LEXUS has been developing hybrid-powered SUVs to high acclaim for some time, but now the already-established NX and RX models have a baby sibling joining the ranks in the form of the all-new UX.
The five-door compact crossover oozes Lexus DNA through and through with a distinctive design that features the Japanese manufacturer's large F Sport grille with a striking mesh pattern created by individual L-shaped pieces.
There are 18-inch sports wheels, a rising waist line, jet-black trim on the front and rear mouldings, sweeping light clusters and lots of crisp lines and creases.
There's also a choice of three trim levels called UX, F-Sport and Takumi with the option of adding 4x4 ability to each version.
The UX is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine along with an electric motor that together deliver a total output of 181bhp.
It is the company's fourth-generation self-charging hybrid engine and is mated to a CVT gearbox.
Our mid-trim F Sport model, costing £33,905 (£38,675 with options), was front-wheel-drive and could complete the 0-62mph dash in a very respectable 8.5 seconds, topping out at 110mph while delivering a combined 49.5-53.2mpg (WLTP) and carbon emissions of 97g/km.
The interior of the car is feature-rich and the layout is very driver-orientated. The deep red leather upholstered seats can be heated along with the steering wheel to keep the winter chills at bay, and creature comforts include a 10.3-inch screen with Lexus navigation complete with European mapping, DAB radio, a reversing camera with guidelines, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control with humidity sensor, a GPS clock, front and rear USB ports, plus much more. However, noticeable by its absence, is the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for full smartphone connection.
Many features are accessed via a touchpad with haptic responses which takes quite 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 (which originated in the LFA supercar) and this allows the driver to change the content on show.
When it comes to performance, the UX doesn't disappoint. The car is the first Lexus model 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 means great all-round handling with excellent balance, poise and handling.
In addition, the CVT transmission is smooth and responsive, provided it's not attacked too enthusiastically to avoid screaming and over-revving.
On the open road, the car feels composed and agile as it sweeps through bends without any body sway or loss of grip.
It's not as aggressive as some rival compact crossovers but the all-round performance is impressive. The clever Active Cornering Assist helps to prevent any understeer and there is ample steering wheel feedback too.
The way the car behaves and responds depends on the Drive Mode you select. For example, an EV mode comes into force when cruising or driving gently. In this mode the front electric motor drives the car without using any petrol. 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 compact in size and that means passenger space in the back of the car is quite limited and it also feels quite claustrophobic as the design of the car, with its rising waistline, results in small rear windows.
The boot can accommodate 320 litres of kit, a capacity that increases further with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there's lots of handy storage compartments throughout the car too.
As one would expect, 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.