COMPACT CROSSOVER NEW BEGINNING FOR LEXUS

Lexus_UX_frontSeduced, I suspect, by the sales inferno of the small sports utility vehicle around the globe, Lexus has made a foray into the sub-50K market with its new UX range.

The Lexus UX – for urban crossover, a mix of SUV and hatchback – raises a new curtain on entry-level SUVs for the Japanese luxury car maker.

The entry-level model, the UX 200 Luxury is priced at $44,450, while the range-topping UX 250h Sport Luxury petrol / electric hybrid costs almost half as much again, at $67,062.

Add the upper of two enhancement packs, which includes tilt and slide moonroof, colour head-up display, 360 degree all-round camera view of the car, 13-speaker premium audio and smart credit card-style key, and the latter (our test vehicle) forges on to an eye-watering $73,232.

Still, there’s no denying the sub-$45K entry level does make the UX line the most affordable of all Lexus vehicles other than the Luxury version of the CT 200h hatch.

All this aside, it is in the attention to detail where the UX excels, resulting in seven Lexus firsts. These include doors that are ‘tuned’ with a ‘reassuring’ sound when closed, as in a luxury vehicle; windscreen wipers that automatically stop when a door opens to prevent people getting in or out of the car from being splashed; and quiet power windows that prevent shirtsleeves or children’s fingers from being trapped.

New UX’s luggage cover can be folded like a net when not being used and stored in the car taking up a minimum of space.

The Sports Luxury model incorporates an ultra-slim air vent with a single knob to control both airflow direction and intensity and is lit by a wireless LED light source. To add the finishing touch, the variant also can be ordered with leather upholstery inspired by ‘sashiko’, a traditional Japanese stitching technique used to apply protective quilting to judo and kendo uniforms.

Lexus_UX_rear

STYLING
The UX 250h AWD crossover looks err on the side of a hatchback, with its low-set architecture, while the F Sport is set apart by unique front and rear bumpers and mesh radiator grille.

The car rolls on 18-inch graphite colour alloy wheels, making a final F Sport statement.

INTERIOR
Inside the cabin it’s much the same story with F Sport unique leather accented upholstery, perforated leather shift lever, and steering wheel cover, plus alloy pedals.

INFOTAINMENT
A 10.3-inch screen displays satellite navigation with voice control and rear camera views and is accessed via a touch pad on the centre console. There’s mobile phone help to send texts while driving and an analogue clock is GPS enabled to track time zone changes on the move.

Bluetooth streaming can be had from compatible devices, with phone compatibility and voice command dialling. Digital radio (DAB+) is available where reception allows.

Lexus_UX_interior

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Power is provided by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, direct petrol injection engine producing 107 kW. This is backed by a permanent-magnet motor and Ni-MH battery giving a combined maximum output of 131 kW.

This is put to ground through an electronic continuously variable automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system.

The innovative E-Four provides electric motor drive to the rear axle, automatically providing extra grip in slippery conditions. All-wheel drive is an option on Sports Luxury and F Sport variants.

SAFETY
The UX line, in Luxury, Sports Luxury and performance-oriented F Sport grades, is replete with advanced automotive equipment such as the Lexus Safety Sense +2, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed active cruise control, lane trace assist, traffic sign recognition, auto high beam, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

This is backed up by a radar pre-collision safety system, which has the car braking automatically if the situation deteriorates. Also on alert are lane keeping assist with lane trace assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and automatic headlight high beam control.

Eight airbags include driver and front passenger dual stage, driver and passenger knee bags, driver and front passenger side airbags and left and right full curtain protection.

DRIVING
Driver convenience begins way before getting into the Lexus crossover, with a programmable smart key capable of remembering up to three different functions; then there is a power front seat with three positions stored and finally an exit phase that moves the steering wheel and seat out of the way.

Claimed fuel consumption of 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. We averaged 4.9 litres L /100 km over all.

The E-Four electric motor drives the rear wheels, automatically providing extra grip in slippery conditions, is one of those things that has an effect that is hard to discern but is welcome all the same, giving a sense of the driver being under control is all conditions.

Drive Mode Select, which offers eco, normal and sport set-ups, is easily activated by a knob on the dashboard directly in front of the driver. Normal is, well, normal as far as driving is concerned. Eco has the car in sluggish mood, while being given free rein in sport mode, much to my liking.

Adaptive Variable Suspension that debuted on the Lexus LC coupe and LS sedan flagship models. 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. Leave this for the track.

Likewise, the colour head-up windscreen feature that includes traffic speed sign recognition and display. The digital instrument meter features a movable virtual ring inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar. It enables info to be easily focused by pushing a switch on the steering wheel, moving the ring to the right and enlarging the multi-information display.

The UX F Sport driving experience can be further enhanced with Acceleration Sound Control, which generates the aural effect of up- and down-shifts like those of a conventional automatic.

SUMMARY
What the UX buyer has to decide is whether he or she wants a cheap Lexus sports utility vehicle, or an expensive hatchback with plenty of comfort and convenience and much of the fresh ‘fruit’ of vehicles on the luxury car market.

AT A GLANCE

Lexus UX 200 Luxury: $44,450
Lexus UX 200 Sports Luxury: $53,000
Lexus UX 200 F Sport: $53,450
Lexus UX 250h 2WD Luxury: $47.950
Lexus UX 250h 2WD Sports Luxury: $56,500
Lexus UX 250h 2WD F Sport: $56,950
Lexus UX 250h AWD Sports Luxury: $67,062
Lexus UX 250h AWD F Sport: $67,520

Options
All grades: Premium paint $1,500

Luxury
Enhancement pack 1: $1550
– Hands-free power tailgate, wireless charger, alloy scuff plates, headlamp washer, rear privacy glass, cornering lamp.
Enhancement pack 2: $4050
– Enhancement pack 1 features plus moonroof.

F Sport
Enhancement pack 1: $2500
– Moonroof
Enhancement pack 2: $5600
– Moonroof, 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio, head-up display, panoramic view monitor, smart key card.

Sports Luxury
Enhancement pack: $3500
– Moonroof, head-up display, smart key card.
Note: These are on-road prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus UX 250h 2.0L 4-cylinder petrol / permanent magnet motor, continuously variable transmission, AWD crossover)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.987 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 107 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 188 Nm @ 4400-5200 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 107 g/km
Motor generator: Permanent magnet motor, Ni-MH battery
Power: 80 kW
Torque: 202 Nm
Total maximum output: 131 kW

DRIVELINE: Electronic continuously variable automatic, AWD (E-Four)

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4495 mm
Wheelbase: 2640 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1520 mm
Turning Circle: 10.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1680 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 43 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / unlimited kilometres

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