YOU have to hand it to Lexus for forward thinking – if you had to pick a car which would not look out of place in a futuristic film then their new UX would fit the bill.
We have come to expect cutting edge styling and tech from the luxury Japanese brand and this latest offering has got those in spades.
With its angular lines and tech filled interior this motor would look right at home on the set of a sci-fi blockbuster.
Lexus are keen to get into the compact premium SUV market – the fastest growing sector in Europe at present – and the UX is a smaller brother for the NX and RX models.
Although it is more compact crossover than SUV, the driving position is quite low, so the performance and handling are very car-like with a low centre of gravity (helped by the use of aluminium for the side doors, wings and bonnet and composite materials for the tailgate) and there is no trademark SUV body roll in the corners.
I used the UX to attend a new car launch in the Lake District and it proved to be a comfy cruiser, even managing the legal motorway limit in electric only mode at times – although mainly when going downhill.
Lexus say the compact SUV is designed for the modern ‘urban explorer’ so it is not claiming amazing off road ability with a fairly low ground clearance and low profile road-biased tyres on big alloy wheels.
They also claim that exceptional body rigidity linked to its low centre of gravity gives superior agility and all models have the new, fourth generation Lexus self-charging hybrid powertrain.
The UX is available in the UK in three equipment grades: UX, F Sport and Takumi.
The UX grade (our test car) features the second generation Lexus Safety System+, seven-inch Lexus Navigation and multimedia system with DAB, dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, roof rails and 17-inch alloys.
The F Sport has F Sport interior and exterior styling features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, black front grille and door mirror housings, rear privacy glass, LED front fog lights, heated, power-adjustable front seats, steering wheel and power memory door mirrors.
The Takumi, named in celebration of Lexus’s skilled takumi craftsmen, offers smooth leather upholstery, trim inlays, integrated front seat heating and ventilation, a bespoke sound system, 10.3-inch Lexus Navigation and multimedia display, 360-degree camera, colour head-up display, sunroof, power tailgate, auto-folding door mirrors, smart entry system, 18-inch alloy wheels, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with braking function.
A range of option packs is available including the Premium Pack + fitted to our test car which brings larger alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, heating in the front seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, smart entry and a smart power tailgate.
It also had the Tech & Sound Pack with upgraded audio, head-up display, wireless charger, parking sensors and power-adjustable front seats and steering wheel.
A particularly striking feature are the rear lights which span the entire width of the vehicle, formed by 120 LEDs which taper towards the centre of the tailgate.
Inside the seven-inch TFT display digitally renders realistic analogue gauges with a three-dimensional effect ahead of the driver and is complemented by a head-up display, standard on the UX Takumi.
One negative for me is that Lexus has persevered with their Remote Touch Interface pad on the centre console which I still find somewhat fiddly to use. What is good are the functions available on the 10.3-inch infotainment central screen with the latest in Lexus’s multimedia and navigation technology which also boasts a premium sound system.
The drive select controller gives a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom modes and in Eco the UX can hit a claimed 53.2mpg – not bad for a 2-litre petrol engine and mainly thanks to the hybrid electric motor system and electric vehicle only mode. The 0 to 60 time, with a combined bhp of 181, is 8.5 seconds and top speed is 110mph.
Customers can also choose between 2WD and 4WD versions, the latter having two electric motors, one on each axle.
Our test UX Premium model is from £29,905 and had option packs and metallic paint which added a further £6,500 to the on the road price.
For more information go to www.lexus.co.uk
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth