Had the exciting opportunity to drive the All new Lexus UX compact Crossover in Cape Town this week. Aimed at the millennial segment the Lexus UX offers class leading premium build, safety features, and in cabin luxury trims which will make you the envy of your peers. The UX name is derived from the design team’s guiding concept and describes the vehicle’s mission: Urban + X-over (crossover) = UX. The Lexus UX is a dynamic offering that will appeal to that market, and competes very well with similar products like Volvo XC & the Jaguar E-Pace.
The 2019 Lexus UX is available in two FWD versions: the UX 200 introduces a new high-efficiency 2.0‑liter, four-cylinder engine coupled with a new Direct‑Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (D‑CVT), while the UX 250h pairs an even higher-efficiency version of the 2.0‑liter petrol engine with a new fourth-generation hybrid drive system engineered specifically for this platform.
The model range also includes an F Sport model in 200 guise. The Lexus UX looks sporty & exciting and drew many admiring looks on our drive around the equally beautiful Cape Town surrounds.
So what’s new? Let’s start with the familiar spindle grille, though sharing its basic form with other Lexus models, is unique to the UX. It features a new block-shape mesh pattern with individual elements that gradually change in shape as they radiate out from the central Lexus emblem. The grille creates an intriguing three-dimensional appearance that changes with the viewing angle. This coupled with the new headlamp design, gives the UX confident outward face.
Loved the arrow motif daytime running lights, which are placed above the LED headlights. The full-width rear lights project a distinctive night-time signature formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs tapering toward the center, measuring just 3mm thick at its narrowest point. This was a nice feature, and would look great at night. The wheel arch moldings that protect the body from gravel thrown up by the tyres, use airflow over their edges to reduce turbulence and lift, contributing to the vehicle’s stability.
In yet another world first, the standard 5-spoke 18 x 6.5‑inch aluminium alloy aero ventilating wheels feature Gurney flaps along the spoke edges designed to reduce wind resistance while also increasing the airflow to cool the disc brakes. The design pulls air from the inside of the wheel, while the air flow on the outer side of the vehicle is regulated to follow the wheel surface. Also liked some of the new colours in this range, Carnelian red, Terrane Khaki which is a green & Celestial blue.
Extremely driver focused is what I said to my co-driver on the test. The dash looks great and curves around the driver to the centre. The materials used are premium, and soft touches abound. The cabin is very quiet and there is very little, if at all, wind resistance noise. It has a high seat position, so visibility is better. Space at the back seats is ample, and the boot space is good as well. Typical of Lexus, the UX offers a very quiet driving experience, thanks to the high-strength structure and optimal placement of specially designed sound-absorbing and insulating materials throughout the body. Also in typical Lexus fashion, engineers traced noises to their sources to keep them out of the cabin. Even the sound of water being thrown up by the tyres is reduced.
F SPORT PERFORMANCE
The F Sport package is available exclusively in UX 200 guise. Bespoke F Sport suspension tuning includes specific springs and stabiliser bars, plus a rear performance damper for a more refined ride. The 18‑inch, five twin-spoke aluminium alloy wheels unique to the F SPORT are even more rigid than standard UX wheels, contributing to responsiveness and handling agility.
The F Sport package comes standard with a UX-tailored version of the new high-response Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system that debuted on the Lexus LC and LS flagship coupe and sedan. The system increases damping force to minimise roll when cornering or changing lanes and reduces damping force in straight-line driving to preserve ride quality. With AVS, the vehicle’s Drive Mode Selector adds the Sport S+ mode which activates the system.
The F Sport transformation includes an exclusive grille design featuring a mesh-pattern created by individual L-shaped pieces. The exclusive F Sport front bumper features large fog lamp bezels with L-shaped chrome moldings and the same mesh pattern as the grille. A revised rear bumper and jet-black trim on the front and rear moldings complete the F Sport look. F Sport-exclusive interior features include front sports seats made with a highly supportive integrated-foaming technique first developed for Lexus F models.
The digitally-rendered instrument meter features a movable virtual ring inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar. A leather-covered F SPORT steering wheel, leather-trimmed shift knob, eight‑inch TFT colour display, aluminium pedals and footrest are also part of the package. The UX F Sport driving experience is further enhanced with Active Sound Control (ASC), which generates the aural effect of up- and down-shifts like those of a geared automatic transmission. An additional Sonic Interaction Design (SID) function adjusts the sound the vehicle makes when driving in Sport S+ mode (S+ Sound).
As stated before there are three models, with the petrol UX coming with a 2.0L which puts out 126kw & 205 Nm of torque coupled with a CVT gearbox, which is smooth changing, and does not hunt for gears, as a lot of them do. The UX gets to a nifty 190km/h and to 100km/h in 9.2 secs. It has good fuel economy at 6.1 L /100km combined.(claimed) The UX Hybrid 250h comes with a 2.0L which puts out 107kw & 180 Nm of torque, however this engine feels better than the petrol version. It delivers fuel economy of 4.5 L/100km.
The Sequential Shiftmatic feature delivers responsive engine braking force in six steps with a shift feel similar to a manual transmission, using steering wheel paddle shift switches or the S position on the shift lever. Both the UX 200 and UX 250h Hybrid 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; Sport S+ (F Sport model) dramatically changes the handling dynamics. The Lexus UX is by no means a performance car, but it has many good things going for it, namely good looks, premium build, a good feel drive, which has enough power, and is smooth as silk.
All UX models are equipped with eight airbags: driver and front passenger airbags; driver and front passenger knee airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact airbags and front to rear side curtain airbags. The Lexus Safety System comes standard in the F Sport and Hybrid models and includes: Standard Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Crash System (PCS) – Brake Synchronised, Blind Sport Monitor, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, LED Adaptive High-beam System (AHS).
LEXUS RC PRICES AND SERVICE INFORMATION
The Lexus UX models retail from R599 000 for the EX grade, R699 000 for the Hybrid 250h SE and R726 200 for the F Sport. 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.
The Lexus UX will appeal to the millennial segment, also the young business person, and probably some older people that want a compact SUV that has some class & premium feel. Look out for this one at the dealerships, and give it a test drive.