We drove the Lexus UX 250h: a premium compact SUV for future-loving connoisseurs…

Driving the future. Now. Literally, without any strings or plugs attached. That is what Lexus driving is all about. Superbly engineered, dramatically styled. With an eye for quality and modern day luxury:  this is what Lexus’s most compact SUV offers you.

It runs on the new GA-C-platform, which is also seen in the new Corolla. It shares also (most) of its drivetrain. Indeed, the well known 2 litre Atkinson Cycle four cylinder plays here the fiddle in harmony with its electric cousin under the bonnet, in clever hybrid fashion, just like in the Corolla. This means absolute technical perfection and utmost reliability is yours to enjoy. But that is not all. The bodywork of this SUV has what it takes to please you, both inside and out. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Hybrids are gaining in popularity in our country, in a massive way, with sales going up more than half over the last year at Toyota/Lexus. Understandably so. It offers electrified transport without the hassles of limited driving range and recharging. It soothes you with velvety electric progress when crawling through urban traffic and maneuvering in tight parking spaces. Once you have experienced this, we are convinced you will be pleased, at least, if not convinced. We are, as readers know, we own a Lexus CT 200h ourselves…

And if you let it, and adopt your driving style to take maximum advantage of the hybrid system, it will chalk up astonishing consumption figures. The secret is smoothness and anticipation. In accelerating and stopping, use clever foresight.

The instrument display in “eco” mode…

The hybrid system will reward you with using the e-power as much as it possibly can, and it will regenerate the kinetic energy – i.e. the motor act as a generator charging the battery – when you lift the throttle and/or brake moderately. This will leave you with consumption figures of around the 4 litre/100 km mark, and all this in velvety smoothness and silence.

The well proven 2 liter Atkinson Cycle engine delivers 146 HP @ 6000 rpm…

The beauty is that even when driving with just a gentle touch on the accelerator pedal, you have all the 177 hp system power immediately available in a split of a second. The 109 HP electric motor with its immediate torque delivery combined with the alert CVT transmission which lets the 2 liter four cylinder eagerly rev up to maximum power, lets you accelerate with punch as soon as you put your right foot really down. Indeed, this SUV will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 8,5 seconds, but it is rather the intermediate acceleration which is a strong point here. Much appreciated when you have to insert in faster moving traffic…

The system in “normal” mode…

The hybrid system lets you choose between different driving modes, eco, normal and sport, so you can adapt the hybrid interaction between engine and electric power to your driver profile.

And in “sport” mode…

Mind you, even when you have chosen “sport” mode, and you choose to lift the throttle and drive at constant speed(s), the hybrid system will immediately switch to maximum use of e-power, so in all circumstances, the system is tuned to deliver maximum fuel efficiency, whilst retaining the chosen driving mode characteristics. Soo clever…

Compared to earlier generations, like our Lexus CT, the engine does not immediately rev up so high and e-power is now also available as sole propulsion at higher speeds. To sum it all up, it is “Zen” like propulsion, and in today’s traffic, delivers top notch economy.

Engaging styling

The NX is boldly styled, its angular forms and accents not only add drama and personality, its curves and accent lines it also brings aerodynamic values to new heights. This SUV has actually a lowish profile, it is only 1520 mm high, with the centre of gravity actually very close to the driver’s hips. It is an SUV all right, but has also the allure and stability of a sporting sedan.

This is also felt on the road. Do not expect to throw it around like a hot hatchback, but it will certainly stand its own when you are in a hurry. It steers with precision and remains pleasantly flat when the going is brisk.

Lexus touch in the interior

Enter into the Lexus world. For some, this takes some getting used to, but rest assured, after a while you are hooked. We liked the touchpad where you can choose with your finger the desired (navigation) function on the central screen. Your finger on the touchpad is so much more stable than your (or your wife’s) hovering and shaking index when trying to input a destination on the touchscreen when driving on a rough and bumpy road. Rest assured, you will soon want nothing else.

Everything at your fingertips, also radio and media…

All the functions are logical, and soon learned when you put your mind to it. Ventilation/airco, infotainment, driver assistance systems, all works smoothly and perfectly, up to the high standard we have come to expect from a Lexus.

When it comes to available room, thus UX will seat four, but the luggage space is not overly generous with 300 liter capacity or thereabouts.

Conclusion

Owning and driving a Lexus is an undisturbed, delightful “Zen” experience, and the smallest SUV of the range is no exception. You are also doing the environment a world of good, and you also benefit from a friendly taxation. The UX has panache, style, mechanical perfection and displays excellent workmanship. It is a compact SUV with all the dynamic qualities of a sedan, and therefore marries the best of both worlds. Add to all this the excellent reliability, economy and good resale value, and you will agree that this rational choice is also very kind on your emotions…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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