The new Lexus UX crossover.
The new Lexus UX crossover.
Image: Supplied

There has been a wave of new SUVs sweeping the market, and any manufacturer worth its salt is trying to get in on the act. Premium car makers are no exception, with Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo —with the Q2, X2, E-Pace, GLA, and XC40, respectively — all vying to tug at the heartstrings of potential buyers.

The latest entrant is the Lexus UX, which Wanted tried out at its launch in Stockholm, Sweden. It is built on the company’s GA-C global platform, which also underpins the Toyota CH-R and Prius. The UX suffix stands for Urban and X-over, says 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 also what is relevant to their lifestyles,” Kako says.

FACT FILE

POWER: 126kW

TORQUE: 205Nm

ACCELERATION: 9.2 secs to 100km/h

CONSUMPTION: Not supplied

CO² EMISSIONS: Not supplied

PRICE: To be announced

The model is no larger than its CH-R sibling and boasts Lexus’ familiar spindle grille, and headlights with the signature L-shaped LED daytime-running lights. There is some plastic cladding on the wheel arches to add off-road attitude, while the rear boasts a clean design, with the L-themed light bar running across the width of the vehicle.

Overall, the vehicle strikes a classy pose that should appeal to young and upwardly mobile buyers seeking a premium SUV without the frills and towering size of larger models.

The cabin features a clean and uncluttered design and there’s a neat, 10.2-inch floating infotainment screen with navigation, angled towards the driver. Sadly, Lexus still insists on the haptic control pad to make inputs, which is challenging to use while on the move. However, the rest of the cabin is pleasant, with good head and legroom upfront.

The UX comes with a new, normally aspirated 2l engine, with direct injection, that is good for 126kW and 205Nm. It powers the entry-level UX200, while the UX250h hybrid uses the same engine, but is augmented by an electric motor to bring the system output to 131kW.

Lexus South Africa says the UX range will arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2019, when pricing will be announced. The model’s success will hinge on this — and on whether those non-turbo engines will be able cut the mustard among its turbocharged rivals.

- From the November edition of Wanted.

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