Lexus, understandably, wants in on the fastest-growing SUV segment; the small SUV. The Japanese brand adds the UX under the NX range, pitching against the likes of the Audi Q2, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and the Volvo XC40.
The UX is offered with two engines; a 126kW 2.0-litre in the UX 200, and a 131kW hybrid in the UX 250h. Both engines can be matched with three model grades; the Luxury, Sports Luxury, and the F Sport. We’re testing the UX 250h with the F Sport guise. All models are paired with a CVT automatic transmission, and the choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive are offered, except for the Luxury pack which is only offered in front-wheel drive format.
Prices begin at $44,450 for the base UX 200 Luxury, and peak at $61,000 for our tested UX 250h F Sport (excluding on-road costs). This has it enter the market about $250 cheaper than the most affordable Mercedes GLA 180 and $2500 more than the cheapest Audi Q2.
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport – THE SPECS
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder hybrid
Output (combined): 131kW
Transmission: CVT automatic
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.0, 225/50
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1655kg
Power-to-weight: 12.63:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 4.7L/100km
Economy during test: 5.2L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 43L/91 RON
Power efficiency: 27.87kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.74 seconds*
0-100km/h: 9.73 seconds*
60-110km/h: 7.00 seconds*
1/8 mile: 11.48 seconds at 107.9km/h*
1/4 mile: 17.39 seconds at 136.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.804g
100-0km/h braking: 3.15 seconds at 41.01 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.032g
Decibel at idle (standby): 30*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 74*
Priced from: $61,000
* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport – THE PACKAGE
Built on the same Toyota TNGA-based GA-C platform as the Toyota CH-R, the Lexus UX is the latest rendition to use Lexus’s current design language. The large weaved black front grill is a now familiar trait, and angular curves and sharp lights surrounding it. There are prominent black wheel arches which give off a rugged and strong appeal.
At the rear, the small SUV looks more like a hatch as the boot lid slopes down more gradually than an SUV, in almost coupe-like form. The LED taillights protrude out of the body like fins and join together in the middle to light up the entire width of the car. Whether you love it like us, or hate it, Lexus designs have proven to withstand premature ageing better than rivals. And we suspect the UX will look modern for quite some time.
On the inside, the interior adopts a fresh Lexus design and high-quality feel. All materials feel premium, and the layout is very extravagant yet practical. The centre console area rises up high around you so you don’t have to reach far for any button or control. But, it can make you feel hemmed in and confined.
One of those easy to reach controls is a trackpad that you use to point your way through the infotainment screen. We have said it before, and we’re still not fans of this system. It can cause you to take your eyes off the road for too long while following the cursor. The 10.3-inch screen is beautifully crisp though, and the standard eight-speaker sound system sounds great, or you can opt for a 13-speaker unit for a more exquisite experience.
Lexus is introducing a new media control module for the first time with the UX, providing simpler reach of the main controls such as volume and skip track. This module pokes out as a tab just in front of the centre arm rest. We think it’s an ideal solution to some of the issues presented with the trackpad.
Lexus knows how to do comfort. The front sports seats exclusive to the F Sport with their many adjustments are a dream to sit in; and the materials used are as premium as they come. Even though the UX is a small SUV, rear passengers are still thought of as they have their own air conditioning vents and power sockets.
Being the smallest SUV in the Lexus range, the (U)rban Crossover(X) provides a fair amount of space in the front but does become tighter for rear passengers. There could be a few more empty spaces and holes to dump your belongings, too. However, the UX is a perfect size to zip around the city, without that excessive bulky feel.
Boot capacity isn’t huge but good enough for grocery shopping and maybe two suitcases. In our hybrid AWD model, the floor is quite high to make room for the rear-axle motor. It measures 334 litres, or 71 litres smaller than Audi Q2 and 87 litres smaller than the Mercedes-Benz GLA. Run-flat tyres are used to save boot space. These may not be fitting for people who plan to hit the dirt frequently or go on very big trips.
All UX variants come standard with “Lexus Safety Sense+”, which includes autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot sensors, traffic-sign detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and an accurate and bright auto high beam. All also come standard with rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, a remote proximity key, daytime LED lamps, side exterior lighting, tyre pressure sensors, electrically-adjustable steering column with comfort entry/exit, and GPS, digital DAB+ radio, and at minimum 17-inch alloys (18in fitted to F Sport).
In addition to the above, the UX 250h F Sport also scores a power tailgate, heated and ventilated front seats, sports pedals, headlight washers, the bigger wheels, the addition of “Sport+” driving mode, and the more powerful hybrid engine as fitted to all ‘250h’ models.
Lexus offers a four-year/100,000km warranty, and servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first). There are also many other perks and incentives that come with buying a Lexus, including hotel deals through partnering branches, a comprehensive service and roadside assist package with even personal assistance-type services, as well as access to drive days and golf days and other event invites.
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport – THE DRIVE
For buyers who are still hesitant about hybrid engines, the UX 250h might help convince you. It uses the combination of a 2.0-litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine and a 24kW 216-volt 180-cell nickel-metal hydride battery pack to produce a combined output of 131kW at 6000rpm, and 202Nm of torque from a low 1450rpm. It’s great to see some worthy outputs from a hybrid model, and more so that they are greater than the non-hybrid offering (126kW). Hybrids don’t have to be boring. These figures translate to a decent amount of punch for this style of luxury-focused vehicle. You just have to ignore the shrill sound of the engine that whines with the CVT auto transmission.
The ultimate benefit of the UX 250h is its fuel consumption. Officially rated at 4.7L/100km on the combined cyclr, our enthusiastic driving still measured an average of 5.6L/100km. This is a terrific reading for the real-world, and especially so for an all-wheel drive. If you want to be extra frugal with your fuel bill, there is an EV-only mode that can be activated, which makes the UX run on the electric motor alone but only for about 1km before the petrol engine kicks back in again. If sudden conditions demand a power boost, kicking down the accelerator will have it automatically jump out of EV mode, too.
Behind the wheel, there are really no drawbacks to the technology. There are differing characteristics to conventional engines, though. For example, taking off under light acceleration will be quieter as the petrol engine isn’t used, and there is a very slight jitter in acceleration as the engine turns on or off, but it’s nothing to whinge about.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Japanese-built small SUV is first class. It glides along the road so fluently and smoothly, you become immediately aware this is a proper Lexus. It also tackles corners without strain and with nominal body roll. Because it is so smooth, less feedback presents itself through the steering wheel than an enthusiast might like. But going over bumps during cornering the UX always remains composed, and exceptionally quiet.
You don’t hear any harsh thuds or vibrations through the interior at all. It’s a very peaceful place to be. The UX only feels slightly ruffled when multiple bumps are hit right after each other on some of Australia’s harsher country roads. At times, the suspension doesn’t seem to get a chance to recompose. Flicking it over into Sport mode can help, thanks to the Adaptive Variable Suspension fitted to the F Sport. But then again, the UX is primarily designed to be a soothingly luxurious vehicle. And that’s what it does best.
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport – THE VIDEO
2019 Lexus UX 250h F Sport – THE VERDICT
At first glance, the starting price for this small SUV might turn up your nose. But delve into the detail and you soon realise the UX 250h is an incredibly easy and comforting SUV to drive. It comes loaded with safety and luxury features, and that hybrid technology makes for a winnable argument with its incredibly low fuel readings.
It’s also refreshing to see you can have an eye-catching design and all of this luxury without having to buy one of those chunky SUVs that are often bigger than what you need.
We will be testing out the UX 200 petrol version soon to see what that’s like. But so far we love that Lexus has remained true to its brand persona and provided a proper luxury vehicle for this class, applying its own unique style and typical high level of fancy technology.
– Frugal on fuel, even in real world conditions
– Impeccably smooth and quiet on the road
– Eye-catching, jagged design is youthful and unique
– The adaptive and bright high-beam is very accurate
– Feels like a genuine Lexus
– Tight cabin, protruding angles and design don’t help
– Media track-pad system is distracting (new control tab helps)
– CVT auto lacks charisma
As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.