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Driving

What is it like to drive?

If you’ve driven previous generations of Lexus then you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at how perky the UX drives. It’s not quite up there with the best in class, mind, the hybrid powertrain is a little too fussy for performance work and in two-wheel-drive guise it's all too happy to lapse into understeer if you’re overly enthusiastic with the steering wheel.

Does it drive like an SUV?

The UX feels suitably car-like on the move, thanks to a low centre of gravity and rakish demeanour. Lexus has clearly put a bit of effort into addressing previous complaints about the hybrid powertrain's CVT transmission that meant the engine was always either whisper quiet in EV mode or wailing at full revs. There’s still a touch of shoutiness, but it’s less prevalent and sounds more distant, like it could be the car in the next lane.

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That said, it’s a shame that Lexus hasn’t put some of its recently gained EV expertise into improving the UX’s general refinement: while it’s hushed and refined enough for a combustion-engined car, when it’s in EV mode at anything over city speeds there’s just too much wind and road noise for it to claim 'silent running'. It’s a tough gig, being a hybrid.

Is it sporty or sensible?

The UX makes a half-hearted effort at being sporty, but can’t quite see it through. There’s a drive mode selector on the steering wheel or a stalk to the left of the instrument binnacle (less awkward than it sounds) with options for Eco, Normal and Sport modes. If you plump for the F Sport model you get adaptive suspension along with a selection of extra sporty modes for variety (Eco, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom), but it’s not the kind of variety you’ll welcome.

The UX is at its wafty best in the Normal or Eco, while the responsiveness and extra power of the sportiest settings make it feel a little hyperactive and overwrought. If you’re after more of a performance machine then you’re better off looking in the direction of a nice BMW. Or anything that isn’t an SUV.

What's fuel economy like?

This is one of the rare cars where it’s eminently plausible to match the quoted fuel consumption (50mpg or so here) thanks to all the electronic wizardry beneath the stylish exterior. It’s worth bearing in mind that the real strength of this kind of hybrid set-up is around town, where the regen and electric assistance work at their most efficient. If you’re mainly looking for a car to schlep up and down the motorway in, then you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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CO2 emissions of around 120g/km for the entry 2WD model up to around 137g/km for the 4WD top spec car make for decently low tax and company car rates, though of course if you’re looking to take full advantage of either of these then you’d be best off going for the electric UX.

Variants We Have Tested

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