The subcompact luxury SUV segment is a highly competitive and booming segment. It came right at a time when what used to be compact SUVs are now classified as midsize, and those classified as midsize are now in the full size category. This meant that a new segment was needed to be created, since many customers look for something smaller than the usual suspects. Enter the Lexus UX.
In this day and age, a small SUV has become the new entry point for consumers in owning their first luxury car, and these mostly target younger buyers who usually are in their early stages of family life. As such, these vehicles will mainly be relegated for city confines, and the UX name represents the design team’s guiding concept, which describes the vehicle’s mission: Urban + X-over (crossover) = UX.
“The Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving,” said Chika Kako, executive vice president of Lexus International and chief engineer of the UX. “We designed the UX to appeal to young buyers who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.”
The Lexus UX utilizes the brand’s new GA-C (Global Architecture-Copact) platform, which is a derivative of Toyota Motor Corporaton’s TNGA platform that underpins the new Prius and C-HR. Extensive use of high-tensilte steel and new construction techniques such as Laser Screw Welding provide the UX excellent rigidity and better driving dynamics. Along with flat underbody covers that contribute to vehicle quietness and fuel efficiency, the wheel arch moldings that protect the body from gravel thrown up by the tires also use airflow over their edges to reduce turbulence and lift, contributing to the vehicle’s stability.
Because of the GA-C platform, Lexus says the UX has the lowest center of gravity in its class, aided by the MacPherson Strut suspension at the front and independent Double Wishbone rear suspension that “promotes ride comfort and sharp response.”
Design-wise, the Lexus UX evokes a youthful and dynamic design. Lexus has made a design that evokes the utility of a crossover, but one that communicates agility and dynamism. The result is a distinct look that is immediately noticeable as a Lexus, with its bold spindle grille, sharp LED headlights, “arrowhead” LED daytime running lights, and a chisled bodywork. At the back, the Lexus UX’s unique “Aero Stabilizing Blade” tail lights are not only eye-catching, but also aerodynamically efficient. The rear lights utilize a single LED bar design that connects both tail lamps into a single unit, a first design trait for a Lexus. To achieve the tail light’s seamless look, 120 LEDs provide clean, uninterrupted illumination. Amazingly, the LED strip is only 3 mm thick at its narrowest point. The exterior designers worked closely with each other to create a harmonious design between the exterior and interior.
Indeed, the interior is one of the brand’s best efforts yet. Many design features were inspired from the LS flagship sedan, which include the three-spoke steering wheel and analog clock. Lexus’ human-centric design focuses on the principle of “seat-in-control”, which gives the principal vehicle functions all to the driver. As a result, the overall design theme creates a cockpit for the driver, which wraps around the occupants to give a sense of intimacy. As standard, the UX features a 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, while a 8-way power adjustment is an option. Multimedia functions are controlled through the Lexus Remote Touch interface, in which a standard 7-inch TFT LCD display (upgradable to 10.25-inches) is controlled via a touch pad, with tunes played through a 6-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System (upgradable to 8-speakers). There’s also a heads-up display that shows summarized driver information right in your field of view.
An F Sport variant is further distinguished by its sportier bodywork, revised suspension with an Adaptive Variable Suspension system, and Active Sound Control for better engine acoustics.
Powering the Lexus UX are two powertrains. The first one is the UX 200, which uses a 2.0 liter inline-4 naturally aspirated petrol engine that produces 168 hp and 205 Nm of torque, and is mated to a Direct-Shift CVT, which Lexus promises to provide thrilling driving dynamics with the benefits of a CVT. This is all possible thanks to its launch gear. The launch gear is meant to assist the CVT while crawling or when launching the car from a complete stop, making the UX accelerate and respond quicker off the line.
The other powertrain choice is the UX 250h, which uses a new, fourth generation hybrid electric system, which features a 2.0 liter inline-4 petrol engine, teamed with an electric motor and an e-CVT. Maximum total output for the hybrid system is 178 hp. The new hybrid system uses a lighter, smaller Power Control Unit, which Lexus has worked hard on to reduce power losses through heat and friction. A NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery is used with a more compact cooling system for better interior packaging, enabling engineers to put it below the rear seats for minimal intrusion in the trunk space. Standard on the UX 250h is an E-Four all wheel drive system, with the rear wheels solely being powered by electric motors that can send up to 80% of the hybrid system’s total power in slippery conditions at speeds of up to 70 kph.
Production is slated to begin this fall, with a Philippine arrival to be announced soon.