Lexus UX review
Lexus breaks the compact SUV mould
'UX” – ‘Urban X-over’. The name of the new, gateway Lexus is an accurate one, because it encapsulates exactly what this stunning little car is all about.
Designed for city dwellers who want a car with a sense of adventure, the UX features many of the positive attributes of an SUV – commanding seating position, bold and assertive styling – without compromising on the attributes associated with a luxury city car like manoeuvrability and comfort.
Based on the new Global Architecture – Compact platform, the UX is a sexy combination of hatchback and crossover, with strong design cues from the rest of the Lexus range, the SUVs in particular. Five doors make convenient access for driver and occupant, as well as luggage. Speaking of luggage, the 272 litres of space is good for a car of this ilk, while there is also a hidden extra storage compartment under the boot floor, perfect for your laptop or handbag to be hidden in while you’re at the shops on your way home after work.
The UX range is made up of three models: the 200 EX, 250h SE and 200 F SPORT. The 200 EX and F SPORT models are powered by a 2-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that delivers 126kW of power at 6600rpm and 205Nm of torque at 4800rpm, equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 9.2 seconds and a maximum speed of 190km/h. Claimed combined fuel economy figures are 6.1-litres/100km. The new Direct Shift-Continuously Variable Transmission (D‑CVT), standard on both models, combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a continuously variable transmission with a more direct driving feel.
The 250h SE uses a new-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain. With a total system output of 107kW, the UX 250h is not only the fuel efficiency leader (4.5-litres/100km) in the UX family, but also the performance leader. This hybrid provides exhilarating driving with high-speed responsiveness and a feeling of smooth, natural acceleration. In fact, the hybrid has a superior 0-100km/h time of 8.5 seconds, although the top is limited to 177km/h.
All UX models are equipped with Lexus Drive Mode Select, which allows the driver to tailor the driving experience by selecting from three different drive modes.
Normal mode provides an optimal balance between driving performance and fuel efficiency; ECO mode maximises fuel savings across all driving conditions by smoothing the throttle response, and by moderating air conditioning operation; Sport Mode delivers quicker throttle response and increased power steering feel and Sport S+ (F Sport model) dramatically changes the handling dynamics.
One area where the Lexus UX stands out from the crowd is the quality of the ride. Due to its lower seating position, which is more car-like than many competitors, it offers a far more entertaining, involved driving experience. The ultra-modern platform also has a positive effect on ride comfort and handling, and while the ride is firm it is not unduly so, soaking up bumps in roads with nonchalance. All UX models come standard with the latest version of Lexus Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), elevating the driving experience even further.
Despite being the entry point to the Lexus brand, the UX features a high level of standard specification. From a safety perspective all models have eight airbags, while the very comprehensive Lexus Safety System comes standard in the F SPORT and Hybrid models. In fact, the UX achieved a five-star rating in independent testing by Euro NCAP.
While the UX will no doubt appeal to a broad spectrum of adventurous-at-heart drivers, it should also welcome a new, younger set of drivers into the Lexus family.
R602 000 is the price tag of the UX 200 EX, while the UX 250h SE costs R702 000 and the UX 200 F SPORT is priced at R729 200. The entire UX range boasts a Lexus best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.