New Lexus hybrid SUV is proof that good things come in small packages
It seems small is the new big and Lexus is the latest car brand to offer a scaled down and less expensive version of their larger SUV. Joining the family of Lexus "X" vehicles, including the RX and NX, is the even smaller UX or Urban Explorer.
While car sales were down by double-digits this year so far, sales of SUVs and crossovers continue to rise and globally they contribute to one in three sales. Is it any wonder that car makers are falling over each other to capitalise on surging sales.
Facing stiff competition from the Volvo XC40, BMW X1, Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA and Jaguar E-Pace, the chiselled UX with its dominant Lexus' signature "spindle" grille is a strong step in the right direction.
Inside, the car incorporates elements inspired by Japanese culture including leather upholstery that showcases Sashiko, a quilting technique used to make martial arts uniforms. Behind the wheel is comfortable but rear passengers don't fare so well and the abundance of black plastic throughout takes the edge off the premium feel.
The UX is the first Lexus to be constructed using the new Global Architecture - Compact (GA-C) platform. This allows for a more lightweight structure and a low centre of gravity, all very apparent once you get on the road. In fact, it takes only a short journey to realise that the UX is one of the most car-like SUVs to drive in its class and ride and handling are impressive.
Powering the new crossover is a 184bhp 2-litre petrol hybrid with 181bhp/135kW. According to Lexus the UX uses electric power for about 55pc of the journey and claim fuel economy of up to 5.3 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions of 94g/km. The UX has three different driving modes; Eco, Normal and Sport, with Eco giving maximum efficiency.
Starting at €40,200 for the entry-level UX, the Luxury costs €44,950, while the flagship F-Sport will set you back €46,350. All UXs get 17in alloys, 7in media display, Lexus Safety System+, 7in info display, adaptive cruise control all speed, two-zone climate control, lane trace assist, rear camera and parking sensors.
The Luxury spec adds 18in alloys, smooth leather, heated front seats, sat nav and front fogs while the range topping F SPORT adds F SPORT design and touches, Tahara upholstery and adaptive variable suspension.
With distinctive looks, good driving dynamics and an efficient hybrid system, the all new baby Lexus makes a bold statement. Hybrid sales rose almost 14pc in the first two months of this year, giving the UX an edge over rivals. If you are in the market for a stylish crossover with eco -credentials it might be worth spending some time test driving a Lexus UX.