Chic looks, updated infotainment, efficient to run
Better all-rounders exist, not as quiet as we’d expect, compromised boot
What is it?
This is the entry-level model in the Lexus range, assuming the position that was held until recently by the venerable CT200h hatchback. Of course, no one drives a hatchback anymore, it’s all about the dreaded SUVs, so we get a family hatch in fancy dress.
The UX was the first Lexus to go on the compact version of Toyota’s waffly versatile TNGA platform, which boasts such luminous stablemates as the C-HR, Corolla and Prius from Toyota. That shows you the flavour of the UX – it’s marketed as a crossover-type thing, but it feels much more car-like when you’re with it.
Looks a bit crazy, doesn’t it?
Well this is the Lexus thing, isn’t it. Unabashed Japanese style and culture as the antidote to Germany’s hegemony on all things premium and the fetishisation of British ‘luxury’.
Styling is of course an entirely subjective appreciation, but we like the way the UX looks – certainly more chic than some of its crossover rivals and with a better blend of SUV and hatchback design cues. It’s a strange phenomenon of current Lexuses, however, that they can be styled so distinctively yet blend in so comprehensively on the road.
What engines are there?
There’s not a great deal of variety in terms of powertrain here – in fact your combustion engine options are limited to a grand selection of one, a 2.0-litre 4cyl 181bhp petrol engine paired up with a 107bhp e-motor taking it in turns to power the front wheels.
Higher spec cars can get a 4WD set-up that has a dinky 7bhp e-motor powering the rear wheels. It won’t be keeping a Defender up at night, but it’s enough to keep you that bit safer in low-traction scenarios.
It otherwise drives reasonably well – it’s got a good ride, soaking up bumps, and it fits well with the more relaxed nature of the hybrid set-up. If you’re looking for a B-road giggler, this isn’t going to do it for you, but if you like saving money on your fuel bills you’ll get on fairly well.
Excitingly, there is a fully electric option for the UX if you’re feeling ready to make the swap. That's the UX300e, which you can take a look at over here.
Would it be a good family car?
There’s good room up front, decent enough space for two adults in the back, and a recent upgrade has brought much needed tech improvements (explored further on the Interior tab). But the boot isn’t particularly big, and the loadspace sits high up.
Lexus’s figure of 320 litres includes Russian doll compartments within compartments that sit under the boot floor, presumably in some of the space they could free up between hybrid gizmos. If you go for one of the higher spec 4WD versions you’ll have a mere 283 litres to play with. Drop the rear seats and that increases to a handier 1,200 litres or so of space to pile things in.
How much does it cost?
Prices start at £34,750 for the entry model or £42,740 if you want all-wheel drive, while there’s four trim levels to choose between along with a multitude of optional packs, which can quickly see the price add up. Full details over on the Buying tab.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Lexus seems forever destined to be labelled as the alternative choice to whatever else is being offered on the market, and the UX isn’t going to change the status quo. But then Lexus isn’t chasing volume sales, it’s got parent Toyota for all of that.
The UX has its quirks and isn’t as comprehensively sorted as something like the Volvo XC40, nor as fashionable in certain circles as the Range Rover Evoque. It’s definitely holds a candle to the Jaguar E-Pace and BMW X2 if dynamics aren’t your main priority. And if they are, don’t be looking at small premium crossovers.
There are various PHEV and EV options out there now, but there are plenty of people who still aren't ready for it. The UX offers a proven hybrid powertrain, low tax and zero range anxiety.