Lexus’ UX Makes an Interesting Hybrid Alternative to the Nouveau Set

Launched in a replacement to the venerable CT200h hatchback in the wake of a run of sexy little SUVs back in 2019, the Lexus UX was one of those cars lost in the sands of lockdown. Blending Lexus luxury and safety with bold design and an ultra-efficient powertrain in a fresh take on dynamic luxury driving, it quietly joined Lexus’ hybrid range. But the big news here is that the UX is now also available in this new F Sport model above the UX 250h EX and SE.

UX F-Sport Adds Radiating Looks

UX is Built on Lexus’ latest super-rigid lightweight Compact GA-C global platform. Which is basically another take of the good old versatile TNGA chassis in Toyota speak. This one gets a unique signature UX spindle grille in an F-fettled ‘radiating’ mesh pattern between its edgy headlamps. They’re adaptive all-LED units with L-shaped Daytime running lamps. F-Sport also gets black mouldings and rides on highly rigid unique F-Sport 18-inch five-twin-spoke F-Sport aluminium alloys.

The UX’s smart cabin is probably its strongest suit. Well cobbled together, it feels upmarket and is refreshingly different to many of its rivals. Our dark UX F Sport had Flare Red front sports seats and a leather-covered F SPORT steering wheel behind its active digital instrumentation that shifts to the right on starting up to reval a second screen behind. Apparently its inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar.

Add a leather-trimmed gear knob, eight-inch TFT colour display, aluminium pedals and footrest. The multi-layeed dash may seem daunting at firs, but truth be told it works well and is easy to find your way around. Viva buttons! UX’s 320 litre boot has a tall floor, but it does incerase handsomely to 1,200 litres if you drop the rear seats.

Fourth Generation Hybrid Powertrain

Packng a fourth-generation self-charging hybrid powertrain comprising a handy 107 kW 180 Nm 2-litre petrol engine, it shares drive responsibilities with a 77 kW e-motor to provide 135 kW worth of total system output. Lexus claims 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds, but this perky hybrid actually proved quicker. UX’s real party trick is rther fuel economy. Lexus claims 4.5-litres/100km combined and CO2 emissions of just 103g/km and we also easily beat that claimed fuel number too.

Boasting a low low centre of gravity by nature, this F Sport fettled version brings a sportier suspension set-up. It includes a sportier spring and stabiliser bar settings and what they call a performance rear damper. And Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension with Sport S+ mode nicked form its flagship LC and LS siblings. AVS increases damping force to minimise roll when cornering or changing lanes and reduces it in a straight-line driving to preserve ride quality.

Lexus once again promises that UX delivers good handling agility and ride comfort in a distinctive driving character. Our F-Sport certainly delivers a decent ride, and soaks the bumps nicely as it works well within the relaxed nature of its hybrid set-up. But it isn’t quite as hot hatch nifty as the propaganda makes out. I likes to understeer a lot if you push a bit and this car also generated a fair bit of tyre roar on some surfaces.

UX is Typically Lexus Safe

Typically Lexus safe, UX has eight driver and front passenger; driver and front passenger knee; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact and front to rear side curtain airbags. Add Adaptive Cruise Control, Brake Synchronised Pre-Crash, a Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure and Steering Assist, which is best left off.

Make no mistake, this Lexus UX F-sport is quirky. Its actually different enough to not quite know what it is. Too low to be a SUV, a little small for an MPV and too tall to just be a hatchback, the UX cuts its own swathe. Neither as poised as BMW X2 or Jaguar E-Pace, as sexy as an Evoque or as sorted as Volvo XC40, the Lexus UX however offers a proven hybrid powertrain and a unique and quite different option to that nouveau set.

Is it worth a look? Certainly, yes. Go ahead, surprise yourself! – Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Lexus UX 250h F-Sport
Engine: 135 kW 180 Nm 2-litre petrol hybrid I4
Drive: CVT FWD
0-60 km/h:        3.76 sec
0-100 km/h:       8.26 sec
0-120 km/h:       11.30 sec
0-160 km/h:       20.31 sec
400m:             15.9 sec @ 143 km/h
80-120 km/h:      5.50 sec
120-160 km/h:     9.01 sec
VMax:             177 km/h
Fuel:             4.5 l/100 km
CO2:              103 g/km
Warranty/Service: 7y 105K/7y 105K km
LIST PRICE:       R910K
RATED:            8
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