From £29,0047
Basic UX loses some of the F-Sport’s dynamism, but still makes for a largely refined, comfortable urban runabout

Our Verdict

Lexus UX 2018 road test review - hero front

More car-like than most, with quirky styling and a hybrid powertrain that sets it apart from rivals such as the Volvo XC40

  • First Drive

    Lexus UX 250h 2019 UK review

    Basic UX loses some of the F-Sport’s dynamism, but still makes for a largely refined, comfortable urban runabout

What is it?

Some six months after we got our first taste of the Lexus UX in pre-production form in Sweden, the baby brother to the NX and RX SUVs has finally landed in the UK.

It’s an interesting looking motor, isn’t it? I dare say some will find its myriad creases, folds and angles rather polarising; but to these eyes the compact SUV cuts a fine form indeed.

Our experience of the model Lexus hopes will help push it through the 100,000 annual European sales mark by 2020 has so far been limited to the F-Sport variant, but this time around we’re driving it in standard, £29,900 guise. Well, standard guise but with the optional £4,300 Premium Pack Plus equipped, bringing its total asking price up to £34,100. That’s quite a sum, but the equipment it introduces to the UX’s alternatively attractive cabin does help soothe the sting. 

The list of new features includes sumptuously-upholstered leather seats; seat heaters; a heated steering wheel; and curious, but visually striking “Japanese paper-inspired” upholstery for the dashtop. The result is a very positive one indeed; of the current crop of upmarket compact SUVs I’d say the UX sits towards the top of the list in terms of visual and material appeal. Premium Plus doesn’t only add to the UX’s cabin, either: 18in alloys; privacy glass; and front and rear parking sensors are also thrown into the mix.

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What's it like?

The crucial point of difference between this particular UX and the F-Sport we drove on the international launch all those months ago is that it forgoes that model’s adaptive dampers and sportier suspension. 

The result is a distinctly soft-edged primary ride that, while perfectly agreeable around town, does feel almost constantly unsettled on Britain’s more questionably surfaced A- and B-roads. Head-toss is fairly conspicuous as a result, while undulating surfaces aren’t smoothed out with quite the level of sophistication you’d hope for from a vehicle geared more towards comfort and refinement. Instead, its doughier suspension calibration means it just sort of wallows its way over lumpier stretches of Tarmac.

Without the ability to firm up the UX’s dampers during bouts of more animated driving, body roll through bends is also noticeably pronounced - particularly during quicker directional changes. Its front tyres don’t require much in the way of provocation to lose purchase and nudge into gentle, but considerable, understeer, either. Combine all this with a steering rack that’s muted, but admittedly linear and progressive, and the UX doesn’t feel particularly athletic. Certainly not as athletic as its dashing exterior suggests it might be, in any case. It’s similar to that one kid at school who wasn’t particularly talented on the playing field, but always had the flashiest sports gear anyway.

But you know what? I don’t think its lack of handling panache is that big a deal; the UX isn’t the sort of car you’d buy for the purpose of pointing down twisting country roads anyway. Lexus knows this, too; it claims it’s targeting buyers who fit into the ‘creative urban explorer’ demographic. While I’ve no idea what constitutes a creative urban explorer, the UX makes town driving a comfortable, refined experience.

Here, that softer suspension makes for a low-speed primary ride that’s far more settled and cosseting. The manner in which the CVT and hybrid powertrain work to guarantee a smooth step-off and reasonable low-down punch will appeal to many, too. Of course, if you plant your foot the CVT will see the engine flare its revs considerably, but the accompanying drone is muted well enough. Gentle inputs are what make this car tick; adapt your driving style to suit, and the UX is difficult to dislike.

It’s difficult to take issue with the fuel economy, too. With the ability to rely on electric power at low-speeds for short periods of time, the WLTP economy range of 49.6 to 53.3mpg seems perfectly achievable.

Should I buy one?

Even without the trick adaptive dampers and sportier suspension set up that differentiates the F-Sport from its regular rangemates, there’s still enough about this entry-level UX to warrant consideration. Its laid back, smooth demeanor helps mitigate the stress that can often accompany driving in built-up areas. That you won’t need to constantly raid your wallet in order to keep it fuelled is a further draw, while fleet managers will no doubt find its 23% BIK rating appealing.

Admittedly a Volvo XC40 is a more complete, well-rounded package, while the Audi Q3’s cabin offers even greater levels of premium appeal. But for those after something a little different, that’ll stand out from the rest of the compact SUV field, the Lexus UX is easy enough to recommend. That said, I’d still go for the F-Sport.

Lexus UX 250h Premium Plus Pack

Where: Surry, UK; On sale: Now; Price: 34,100 (with £4,300 Premium Plus pack); Engine: 4cyls, 1987cc, petrol, plus electric motor; Power: 179bhp (total system output); Torque: 140lb ft at 4400-5200rpm (petrol motor only); Gearbox: CVT; Kerb weight: 1620kg; 0-62mph: 8.5sec; Top speed: 110mph; Economy: 49.6 to 53.3mpg (WLTP); CO2: 97g/km, 23% (NEDC); RIVALS: Volvo XC40, Audi Q3

Join the debate

Comments
23

29 March 2019

Urban runabout....£34k


29 March 2019
bomb wrote:

Urban runabout....£34k

Yes, thought that too. Strange description. 

289

29 March 2019

....and I can honestly say that I didnt see the 'up-market or sumptuous interior' you refer to.

I thought it was cheap and nasty.....again the leather didnt smell of leather (how do the Japanese manage that?), the plastics were like something from the 70's and it was dark and oppressive inside. Catches for the armrests were recalcitrant and threatened to cut your fingers open, and then there was the issue of its looks (I couldnt really call it 'design').

I am sure there will be some who will find it 'interesting', but I dont see it as the answer to Lexus's prayers.

29 March 2019
289 wrote:

....and I can honestly say that I didnt see the 'up-market or sumptuous interior' you refer to.

I thought it was cheap and nasty.....again the leather didnt smell of leather (how do the Japanese manage that?), the plastics were like something from the 70's and it was dark and oppressive inside. Catches for the armrests were recalcitrant and threatened to cut your fingers open, and then there was the issue of its looks (I couldnt really call it 'design').

I am sure there will be some who will find it 'interesting', but I dont see it as the answer to Lexus's prayers.

 

i don’t understand motoring journalists obsession with Lexus interiors.  They always look awful with far too many surfaces, planes and a mess of different styles. I recently sat in a CT and it had the nastiest, cheapest and ugliest interior I’ve seen in a modern car for years.  

30 March 2019
ewallace1 wrote:

289 wrote:

....and I can honestly say that I didnt see the 'up-market or sumptuous interior' you refer to.

I thought it was cheap and nasty.....again the leather didnt smell of leather (how do the Japanese manage that?), the plastics were like something from the 70's and it was dark and oppressive inside. Catches for the armrests were recalcitrant and threatened to cut your fingers open, and then there was the issue of its looks (I couldnt really call it 'design').

I am sure there will be some who will find it 'interesting', but I dont see it as the answer to Lexus's prayers.

 

i don’t understand motoring journalists obsession with Lexus interiors.  They always look awful with far too many surfaces, planes and a mess of different styles. I recently sat in a CT and it had the nastiest, cheapest and ugliest interior I’ve seen in a modern car for years.  

I always thought motoring journalists criticised the design and percieved quality of lexus interiors as being inferior to that of audis, as is done in this review, whilst still acknowledging the standard of build quality.

29 March 2019

..what really matters is the interior styling as punters no longer know or care about the rest of the vehicle

29 March 2019
405line wrote:

..what really matters is the interior styling as punters no longer know or care about the rest of the vehicle

Surveys, time after time, tell us that looks, badge, reliability, residual value and pricing are the significant factors while driven wheels, number of cylinders are oddly enough not a factor at all for most buyers.

 

29 March 2019
Interestingly I used to work for a Japanese automotive supplier. We had clear instructions to reduce the leather smell as much as possible as in Japan it's not a positive! And that has been applied globally.

 

 

 

289

29 March 2019

Interesting.

Another example of the Japanese not understanding (or not bothering to understand) the European market then.

So thats why the all -pervading smell of a Japanese car is one of cheap plastic....rather like a 70's British Leyland car!

Mitsubishi used to, (may even still),  fit leather at the distribution centre at Portbury....sending the original cloth seats back to Japan. I used to think this practise very time wasteful but at least  they used Bridge of Weir leather which actually smelt nice!

30 March 2019

This has got to be one of the most hideous cars ever made. Look at the slide show... mother of god.

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