A brand well-known for luxury finishes have just entered the compact SUV market with the beautifully crafted Lexus UX 250h.
At the same time, Lexus boss Ewan Shepherd has confirmed that this new compact crossover will arrive in the UK purely in hybrid form. It is yet another sign, if any were needed, that we are moving into a new automotive age without diesel and with electricity firmly on the horizon.What is striking about the design of this new car is the incredible attention to detail from the Japanese company.
It is beautifully sculpted with lines sweeping back to a rear hatch with a tapering taillight that spans the width of the car measuring just 3mm at the centre. The front spindle grille is deep and imposing with elongated headlights on each side and even in the entry UX model, this car sits on 17” wheels.
But it is the lengths Lexus have gone to ensure that the little things matter that really impresses.
To be confident they had exactly the correct rich door closing sound in the new UX, designers consulted neural scientists, studied research of how a brain reacts when a luxury car door closes and then selected optimum materials and adjusted the shape of the door by tenths of millimetres to get that noise just right.
Before it leaves the factory at Kyushu Lexus’s famous takumi – skilled and perfectionist craftspeople – take every UX into a quiet room and test it for its credentials in door closing.
Designers have also added a feature that stops the windscreen wipers from operating when a car door opens so the occupants don’t get wet.
With such attention to detail, it is not surprising that you sigh with delight simply settling down into this car. It is going to be a drive but one which you know you are going to enjoy.
The cabin itself is sumptuous even in this entry-level model likely to be the best seller and accounting for 50 per cent of sales according to Ewan Shepherd.
The ride height is high and the bonnet low and long so that visibility for drivers and passengers alike is excellent.
Materials are all soft touch no matter the trim level and there are three – UX, F-Sport, the racy model with red finishing touches and sporty design cues, and top of the range Takumi named in honour of the highly-skilled Lexus craftsmen and women and whose touch is everywhere in this car.
Under the bonnet is a fourth generation hybrid. Lexus is the luxury brand of Toyota who have been leaders in this field for many years so this is a tried and tested piece of engineering.
A 2.0-litre petrol engine is mated to a 216-volt nickel-metal hydride battery which drives a permanent magnet, synchronous motor in the front of the two-wheel drive version as well as an induction motor at the rear in the four-wheel drive version.
This delivers 181bhp and means that the UX is no slouch in either drive.
Transmission is via CVT which works well once you get up to speed and you fairly glide along, comfortably and elegantly just as the designers desired. And this is not a plug-in hybrid but one which regenerates power on the move so no messing about looking for charging points.
Braking and taking your foot off the clutch allows the car to regenerate power for the hybrid system and there is a little graphic to show you what is happening.
In town, the UX pushes silently along in EV mode, for a dynamic drive the petrol engine cuts in supplemented by the electric motors when required and for rapid acceleration both will work together for optimum power.
There are three driving modes Normal, Eco and Sport. In addition, the F-Sport has Custom and Sport+ to which you can add S+ Sound to create the matching roar.
There are a myriad of safety systems onboard as well as the company’s latest version of its Adaptive Variable Suspension which gives you extreme comfort.
Until now only supply has held Lexus back but according to Ewan Shepherd that is set to change and he predicts sales of 20,000 Lexus cars in the UK by 2021/22. With all those hybrid engines they will be a low emission and very silent majority.
Car reviewed: Lexus UX Takumi 250h Hybrid 4WD on the road from £39,100 0-62mph 8.7seconds Top speed 110mph Engine 2.0-litre CVT petrol engine with two battery-powered electric motors Dimensions L/W/H mm: 4495/2080/1540 Fuel Economy combined 48.7mpg CO2 Emissions 103g/km Max power 150bhp Torque 190Nm@4400-5200
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