Recently we travelled to Cape Town for the launch of Lexus’ newest and most compact SUV, the UX. The UX name is derived from the design team’s guiding concept and describes the vehicle’s mission: Urban + X-over (crossover) = UX. The 2019 UX becomes the first Lexus constructed on the new Global Architecture, the Compact (GA‑C) platform. Although donned with good looks and seemingly ready to win your heart, the UX is up against some formidable competition in the form of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
Lexus’ luxury extends throughout the UX cabin. The three-spoke steering wheel and analogue clock come from the Lexus LS, for example, and Lexus Climate Concierge, as used in other Lexus models, automatically links heating and cooling airflow with the heated and ventilated seats to optimise interior temperature comfort.
The Lexus UX offers a wide choice of interior colour combinations. The seating is available in simulated leather (UX 200 EX) or smooth leather (F Sport and Hybrid). The EX and Hybrid models offer a choice of five colours, including Cobalt, Black, White Ash, Rich Cream and Ochre. In addition to Black, the F SPORT also offers exclusive Flare Red or White seat colours. The UX offers 6-way manual (UX 200 EX) or 8-way power-adjustable (F Sport and Hybrid) front seats, the latter with adjustable lumbar support for the driver. The UX F Sport features exclusive front seats with integrated-foaming construction, which helps the seats conform to the occupant’s body. We particularly enjoyed these seats and missed them in the Hybrid model.
The front cabin is driver centric with a 7‑inch TFT LCD display meter that digitally creates realistic, analogue gauges in a three-dimensional space. The F Sport features a larger 8‑inch TFT LCD display. The Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI) with haptic feedback in the 2019 UX is designed to feel as familiar to use as a smartphone. The RTI utilises intuitive operations, such as double-tapping and flicking, to mimic common phone gestures. This works but takes a while to get used to as the reaction is a tad quicker than you would expect. A switch at the base of the touch pad can call up an operation screen with related functions, such as air conditioning and navigation, enabling easier access without going through menus.
The 2019 Lexus UX models offer the latest in the brand’s multimedia and navigation technology. A 7-inch EMV (Electro Multi Vision) display is standard, and a 10.25 inch EMV (F Sport model) display is used with the available Lexus Navigation system.
The UX stands out from afar and the spindle grille features a new block-shape mesh pattern with individual elements that gradually change in shape as they radiate out from the central Lexus emblem. The headlamp design also stands out and the daytime running lights arranged in an arrowhead motif above the headlights complement the Lexus L-shaped lighting signature. The full-width rear lights project a distinctive night-time signature.
On the side, the wheel arch mouldings that protect the body from gravel thrown up by the tyres which also use airflow over their edges to reduce turbulence and lift, contributing to the vehicle’s stability.
The 2019 Lexus UX is offered in a palette of 13 exterior colours to accentuate its stunning lines. Two of those colours, White Nova and Heat Blue, are exclusive to the F Sport.
A 26,4cm wheelbase contributes to a smooth, stable ride and cabin space. The 4495mm length and best-in segment 10.4m curb-to-curb turning diameter help make the Lexus UX easy to manoeuvre and convenient to park. Getting in and out is easier thanks to factors including optimal placing of the hip-point, a cut-off profile for the rocker panel below the doors, and the shape of the seat cushion. For interior storage, the UX offers the largest console box in its class. Fold-down grocery bag hooks are available to prevent groceries from rolling all over the boot. For convenient loading and unloading, the UX F Sport and Hybrid models are offered with a hands-free power tailgate.
The UX features run-flat tyres. These allow for driving with a flat tyre at speeds up to 80 km/h for up to 160 km.
Safety and security
The Lexus UX models are equipped with eight airbags: driver and front passenger airbags; driver and front passenger knee airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact airbags and front to rear side curtain airbags.
The Lexus Safety System comes standard in the F Sport and Hybrid models and includes:
- Standard Adaptive Cruise Control,
- Pre-Crash System (PCS) – Brake Synchronised,
- Blind Sport Monitor,
- Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist,
- LED Adaptive High-beam System (AHS).
Transmission and engine
The Lexus UX petrol models deliver 126kW of power and 205Nm, equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 9.2 seconds. This new engine produces fuel economy figures of 6.1-litres/100km. Automatic Stop and Start furthermore enhances fuel efficiency. The engine is paired with a new Direct Shift-Continuously Variable Transmission (D‑CVT) which is said to combine the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a continuously variable transmission with a more direct driving feel. We drove the car in Cape Town and surrounding arears. The engine felt eager and delivered power efficiently. The transmission was smooth and changed effortlessly. We enjoyed driving the F Sport the most although we would settle for the Hybrid model. It is extremely fuel efficient and drives very well.
The new Lexus UX 250h is powered by a new 2.0‑litre four-cylinder petrol engine coupled with two electric motor-generators. The Hybrid model thus delivers 107kW of power and 180Nm of torque (total system output of 135kW), equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.5 seconds. The Hybrid model produces a combined fuel economy figures of 4.5-litres/100km. Compared to similarly-sized Lexus hybrid, the power control unit of the UX is more powerful yet 20% smaller and 10% lighter. The speed at which the hybrid system can shut off the petrol engine, such as when driving on long downward slopes, has been raised from the 70 km/h of previous Lexus hybrids to 115 km/h for the UX 250h.
The Lexus UX models retail from R599,000 for the EX grade, R699,000 for the Hybrid 250h SE and R726,200 for the F Sport. Prices include a Lexus best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan.
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