Carzone drives Lexus' new premium compact crossover
Pros: Refined hybrid drive, distinctive styling, premium interior feel
Cons: Less practical than rivals, small boot
Lexus has launched several new models to the Irish market of late, including the sophisticated ES executive saloon, the family-friendly RX-L seven seat SUV and its first ever compact crossover model in the UX. The popularity of compact crossovers is undoubthedly rising in Ireland, as is the uptake in hybrid technology. The UX competes against established models such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLA amongst others, but it differentiates from the rest of the pack with unique styling and a hybrid platform. We spent a week driving the UX250h on Irish roads to see how it compares to rival models.
The UX is distinctively-designed, with Lexus' trademark mesh front grille, bi-LED headlights and alloy wheels as standard
The UX takes inspiration from Lexus’s RX and NX models in the styling stakes. It’s very eye-catching from the outside, with Lexus’ trademark mesh grille, pronounced side lines and distinctive LED brake lights which run the length of the the rear. Base S-Design models are equipped with bi-LED headlights, electric door mirrors and 17-inch black alloy wheels, while our Luxury specification test car boasts rear privacy glass, larger 18-inch alloy wheels and a smart keyless entry. The range-topping F Sport is the sportiest options with F Sport body styling and 18-inch wheels. There are 11 colour combinations to choose from, while this Mercury Grey metallic paint scheme is a €940 optional extra.
An LED light panel runs across the rear of the UX and it is striking to look at, particularly at night time
The UX is longer and lower than most of its rivals which means it has a low-slung hatchback feel when you sit inside. Up front, the UX is suitably spacious with ample room for taller adults, although the rear seats aren't especially roomy for taller adults, particularly when there are three rear passengers. Family buyers will be pleased however with a pair of ISOFIX mounts and wide opening doors. With a high boot floor, the UX’s boot space is 320 litres, which is less that what you get in the Audi Q3 and you will find it difficult to get large suitcases in with room to spare. That said, it is easy to slide items in and out and the rear seats fold completely flat when extra space is needed to carry large items.
Boot space is smaller than most rival models though the flat floor makes it possible to slide items in and out with ease
The Lexus UX’s interior offers a different recipe to rival offerings. Fit and finish throughout the cabin is excellent and it should stand up well to the wear and tear of daily use. Up front, the UX is equipped with a seven-inch infotainment screen as standard which leans towards the driver’s seat, along with a seven-inch colour driver’s information display. The infotainment system is operated via Lexus’ touch pad-style controller, which takes some getting used to. The seats are very comfortable and supportive and offer a wide range of adjustment, while heated and ventilated seats available as an optional upgrade.
The quality of the cabin is very good, and it's easy to get comfortable with a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment available
The UX is available with just one engine, a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid dubbed the UX250h. The UX250h is equipped with front wheel drive and an automatic CVT transmission, and it produces 184 horsepower and 190Nm of torque. Performance is swift and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds, and it cruises comfortably at motorway speeds. The UX is best-enjoyed with a relaxed driving style and the hybrid system transitions between electric and petrol power seamlessly, while regenerative braking tops up battery range. It’s very refinedt on the move, and especially suited to city-based driving. The UX is nimbler to drive than many of its rivals and easy to park with light steering and front and rear parking sensors equipped as standard. We achieved 5.2l/100km in fuel economy over the course of a week driving the UX250h, while annual motor tax is rated at €180.
The UX is available with a sole 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain which offers low running costs around town
The UX boasts a strong safety record with a five star Euro NCAP safety rating and a suite of safety aids as standard, including Lexus' Safety System plus as standard. It is equipped with Pre-Collision System, Road Sign Assist, Emergency Response System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Tracing Assist. The UX also features Hill Hold Assist and eight airbags as standard.
The rear seats can accomodate two adults comfortably, with a set of ISOFIX mounts on the outer seats and a folding centre armrest
Prices and features:
Prices for the new Lexus UX start from €40,200 in Ireland which is on par with the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. The entry S-Design model features bi-LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a seven-inch infotainment screen, electronic climate control and cloth seats. The mid-range Luxury model that we drove (from €44,950), adds cornering lights, rear privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, front heated seats, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, smart keyless entry and leather upholstery. The range-topping F SPORT (from €46,395) adds sporty F SPORT body styling, bumpers and 18-inch wheels, along with an eight-inch digital display, a perforated leather steering wheel, electric front seats, aluminium sports pedals and more.
17-inch alloy wheels are featured as standard, however the higher specification Luxury model that we tested features 18-inch wheels
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Lexus UX provides crossover buyers with a tempting new alternative to the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA. Buyers will love the UX’s distinctive styling, its premium cabin and the low running costs of the petrol-electric hybrid system. The UX is best-suited to urban driving and tackles commuting with aplomb. That said, it is isn’t as spacious or practical as many rivals’ offerings, and it is a crossover rather than an outright SUV. The UX is nontheless an interesting new premium crossover option and it will strengthen the Lexus line-up for 2020 and beyond.
The Lexus UX offers an interesting alternative proposition to popular premium crossovers such as the Audi Q3 and BMW X1
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Lexus UX250h Luxury
Prices from: €40,200
Price as tested: €44,950
Annual Motor Tax: €180
Engine: 2.0-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine and high output electric motor
0-100km/h: 8.5 seconds
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 438 litres
The UX is likely to win over buyers who are considering making the switch to a hybrid car at their next purchase
Range Rover Evoque
We love the rear LED light design which stretches across the rear of the UX