Saturday 25 May 2019

Eddie Cunningham: How I fared on the streets of Stockholm in new Lexus UX crossover

First drive: Lexus US 250h

Lexus UX
Lexus UX
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

As promised last week, here are some early driving impressions of the new compact hybrid crossover from Lexus, the UX.

A quick update first: It will cost from €39,000 when it (250h 2WD version only) arrives in March.

The smallest crossover to date from the marque is coming late for 191-reg but still coincides with an overall major shift from superminis and family hatches to motors like this.

With a stop-off at the ABBA museum, I drove the UX around Stockholm last week. It made sense to do so because they are calling it an urban explorer, but that doesn't stop it being a long-distance driver either - it certainly fared well on a short motorway stint.

Obviously a longer-driving verdict awaits on Irish roads, but I was impressed by its ability to absorb and deflect the bumps and bruises of street and road surfaces pock-marked by long winters and tram lines.

The hybrid system, with the new 2-litre petrol engine, gave me plenty of pick-up over short distances. There was no sense of CVT whine from start either. With 178PS at our disposal, we were never short of pep.

It's a tightly structured package that adds some edge to what is a nicely comfortable, unusually agile drive.

Just to be clear on one thing: The fixed first gear CVT system only applies to the petrol version. I may have given the impression last week it was on the 250h that's coming to Ireland.

I happen to think that materials throughout the cabin are probably the best I've come across at this level - even down low the plastics are of decent quality. As rivals include Audi Q2/3, Mercedes GLA, BMW X1, Volvo XC40, that is saying something.

We had excellent elbow room out front, but rear-seat space is not great, though I still had fair headroom.

It's quite a low-slung car, but I had no problems getting in or out, and that didn't that impinge when I was driving.

I tend to get lost or nearly lost a lot on these first drives, so a couple of sharp changes of direction to avert that highlighted a blessedly snappy turning radius (5.6m).

Somehow I don't think I'll be doing too many U-turns on my first impressions of the UX when it gets to Ireland.

Irish Independent

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