Lexus goes smaller with its latest local market offering

Lexus has added a fourth SUV/crossover option to its South African product matrix. The new offering is called UX and it offers the most affordable price point into owning a Lexus SUV, built on a platform shared with the latest Corolla.

Twenty years ago, only 4% of luxury vehicle buyers in South Africa chose an SUV. This year nearly half of all new luxury vehicle purchases (40%) will be SUVs and Lexus is keen to not lose out on the surging popularity of raised body premium vehicles.

Riding on Toyota’s new G-AC vehicle architecture, UX is differentiated by striking its styling, a collection of sharp angles and square wheel arches. The design is very much contemporary Lexus fare: daring and in no way a pastiche of European influences.

Inside the familiar dual-deck inst. There’s no touchscreen infotainment option, which is slightly annoying, but build quality is impeccable throughout. Audiophiles will be keen to note that a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system is available and offers excellent, rich, acoustics properties to any media relayed through the UX’s infotainment system.

Seating comfort is superb, but luggage space a touch tight, at 272-litres, whilst a rival such as BMW’s X1 offers 505-litres. What you sacrifice in terms of luggage space, you gain in terms of driving efficiency, especially in heavy traffic, with the hybrid UX capable of 4.5l/100km consumption. With peak total system power out of 135kW, it’s not slow either.

If you prefer a slightly simpler powertrain option, new UX is also available with a 126kW/205Nm 2-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, essentially the hybrid UX powertrain sans its battery assistance. This engine powers the most affordable EX derivative and also the range-topping F-Sport model, which features adaptive suspension and differentiating Lexus high-performance styling elements.

All UX models drive through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and although the absence of audible gearchanges are unusual compared to a conventional automatic transmission, the CVT system is simpler and more efficient, without fewer moving parts and friction.

If you require a compact crossover with differentiating styling, that’s effortlessly refined to drive and sure to never become a bothersome ownership experience, Lexus UX has attributes convergent to those ends. The range starts with EX at R599 000, then the hybrid version at R699 000 and peaks at R726 200 with the F-Sport. All UXs are, in the manner typical of Lexus, generously equipped with safety and convenience features.

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