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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Lexus UX

Well, technically it is my second drive in the Lexus UX, you should recall my somewhat taunting post of my trip to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend the international launch of this new offering from Lexus. It has now officially launched in South Africa and of course I was there to bask in all its glory!

I do get so excited when a manufacturer launches a brand new product. Not just an upgrade or a facelift or even the next generation, but a brand spanking new car that no one has ever seen or driven before – except for those punks overseas who get to see and drive it before we do. The Lexus UX is one such product. An offering to rival those in the popular small SUV/ Crossover segment. Rivals such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. So how will the UX fare? Let’s see…

LOOKING GOOD

Lexus UX

When I was on the international launch (just in case you forgot I got to go to Sweden), I didn’t love the styling of the UX. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, on South African soil, I quite love it! It is all angular and sharp, but I am drawn to it in a way I wasn’t previously. Some things cannot be explained. Either way, it is going to a hot topic amongst local buyers because I fear they will either love it or hate it.

Inside, however, there will be no ‘Marmite” reactions. Everybody will love it. It’s sophisticated and modern and filled with all the goodies you want when paying this much for a car. (Pricing is at then end of this post to force you to read my entire review…or you can be a d**k and just scroll down…I’m watching you though!).

SPECCED OUT

Lexus UX

With Lexus, you can guarantee an epic spec sheet and the UX is no different. Even from the UX200 EX base model you can expect everything but the kitchen sink in it. Here is a taste: Smart entry and push start, climate control, back guide monitor, parking support Alert, a wireless charger, EMV Navigation, simulated leather and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Next up is the UX250h model which adds things like adaptive cruise control, Adaptive High Beam System, leather and memory seats and hands-free power back door. The range-topping F Sport adds dynamic styling as well as Sport S+ drive mode select, sports seats, Active Sound Control and Adaptive Variable Suspension.

VROOM VROOM

When it comes to the engines, you will find a 2.0-litre petrol unit producing 126 kW and 205 NM under the bonnet of the UX200 EX. The hybrid utilises a version of this 2.0-litre engine mated to an electric motor. The total outputs sit at 135 kW and 180 Nm. The F Sport also uses the same 2.0-litre engine found in the UX200.

If I had to choose which engine I would go for, it would have to be the hybrid. And not because I am all earthy and sh*t (although I totally am), but because the power is almost immediately available and it just feels more punchy. The hybrid-specific CVT is excellently paired to the engine and if you’re happy to forego the sport looks of the F-Sport, I think you will be happy with the claimed fuel consumption of just 4.5l/100km of the hybrid. (The F Sport and 200 EX claims 6.1l/100km). The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine doesn’t have enough oomph that I think a lot of buyers will be after. But if fuel consumption is your main concern, then the hybrid will be perfect for you.

The ride is smooth as silk and the whole driving experience is one of luxury. The steering is light, direct and responsive and the car feels solid on the road. These are important things for me when driving a car. I want to feel safe and sturdy. Thankfully the safety spec is also high.

Overall, Lexus is offering a superb product in the form of the new UX. It serves as an entry point for those who want to own a Lexus, but of course, pricing is everything. It doesn’t come cheap, but bear in mind the standard spec level and you might find that this offering becomes rather appealing.

PRICING OF THE NEW LEXUS UX

Lexus UX200 EX: R599 000
Lexus UX250h SE: R699 000
Lexus UX200 F Sport: R726 600

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