The baby Lexus SUV maintains luxury and quality, but is this the one to get?
Lexus has loyal customers, particularly in the SUV range. They appreciate the quality, comfort and high spec of the luxury range in the Toyota group. This is the baby SUV from Toyota’s luxury brand. The UX (Urban Explorer) shares its platform with the best-selling Corolla, Prius and most significantly the CH-R compact SUV. It has the same wheelbase as theCH-R, but is slightly longer and wider.
Personally I prefer the looks of the CH-R which I have raved about in the past – it’s a cross between something sporty and a futuristic space pod. The Lexus however undoubtedly looks more upmarket and a class above. It’s styling makes it look bigger than it is, it certainly retains presence, particularly in the blue of this car.
The UX starts at just under £30,000 for the front wheel drive version, but that jumps to £38k if you opt for the E-Four drivetrain which features all-wheel drive from an electric motor driving the rear wheels.
All are powered by a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid arrangement mated to an CVT automatic. The power output is 181bhp which provides 0-62mph acceleration in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 110mph. Combined fuel economy is quoted as 47mpg while CO2 emissions are 136g/km.
There is also a full electric variant available, the UX 300e with 200bhp and a 196 mile range, but pricey at a £44,000 kick-off point.
Where it clearly wins over the CH-R is inside. From the two-tone sexy sports seats, to the sliding centre dial instrument panel inspired by the LFA supercar to the super-intelligent climate control and excellent stereo. The trim and quality is beyond reproach and space up front is both comfy and inviting. Rear visibility can be restrictive (although multiple 360-degree camera angles compensate) and that now-ancient touch-pad infotainment interface really needs to be junked and replaced.
Space in the rear is adequate for most adults and the only limiting factor is the drastically reduced rear luggage compartment space probably due to the rear electric motor robbing it of room. It’s okay for the large weekly shop, but don’t go volunteering for the airport run.
On the go while mostly smooth and refined, the adaptive suspension can be caught out by larger or deeper bumps and being that this is a Lexus this might seem a little surprising, while on anything less it would be fine. It’s a fast motorway cruiser, feeling right at home with a useful active cruise control. This is not a car that you’ll be hunting out fun roads in, despite its elongated sportnomenclature, but it is competent with sure-footed handling and has useful performance when you need it.
It’s a small car, despite feeling like a bigger machine when you’re at the helm. You soon realise that more parking pots and tighter gaps are available to you than you initially thought. This makes it an easy car to pilot about town. However I do recall the CH-R being a more engaging drive, particularly in petrol-only manual guise (no longer available here) and boasting a bigger boot. That said the plush interior, classier kit and sheer cache of driving a Lexus is likely to appeal to many.
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