With daring styling, good driving dynamics and a refined interior, the Lexus UX hybrid has emerged as an appealing alternative to the best compact SUVs on the market.

When you factor in average fuel economy of over 65mpg, plus the fact the car comes with an array of safety equipment, you’re looking at a vehicle with plenty of positives on its side.

The UX features Lexus’ fourth generation self-charging 2.0-litre petrol engine mated with two electric motors.

When combined, it delivers a total output of 176bhp, which feels punchy and allows the UX to reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.5 seconds.

Continuously Variable Transmission has been much-criticised by driving purists over the years, but this CVT system on this vehicle is better than its predecessors.

Indeed, it feels smooth and linear, working well with the engine to deliver strong acceleration through the front wheels.

On open country roads, the UX provides a more engaging and rewarding drive than some of its Lexus stablemates.

When you reach cruising speed, the ride is comfortable and composed in a similar way to the Toyota C-HR, with which it shares its platform.

It’s worth noting that the UX is a ‘self-charging’ hybrid, with a battery that regenerates as you drive the car, as opposed to one that needs to be connected to a charging point.

The electric range isn’t great, but you can crawl through a city centre or a traffic jam in EV mode.

The steering is weighty and sharp, there’s plenty of grip in tighter corners, and body roll is well-contained.

The car’s agility is aided by a low centre of gravity and the Active Corner Assist system, which applies the necessary braking on the inside wheels to nullify understeer when cornering.

In terms of looks, the UX has an eye-catching appearance and a highly-distinctive silhouette.

Slim headlights either side of the signature grille give the car’s front end a purposeful look.

Bold creases and chiselled lines in the bodywork flow towards the distinctive sloping rear end, with the UX looking more car-like than any of its small SUV rivals.

Once inside, the interior offers all the style and elegance you come to expect from Lexus.

There’s plenty of quality leather and plastics alongside smartly-designed controls.

The smooth leather seats are designed using a geometric perforation pattern and use traditional Japanese Sashiko stitching techniques. It all feels very elegant.

The graphics on the 10.25-inch infotainment screen are crystal clear, but the remote touchpad makes it tricky to use.

There’s no need to worry about troublesome cables with the availability of a Qi-compatible wireless charger, allowing you to charge a device such as a smartphone simply by placing it on the charger.

Up front, there’s no shortage of leg and head room, but things get a little tighter in the rear seats, while the boot is very much on the small side.

You feel the space in the rear, especially in terms of headroom, has paid the price for the sloping roofline which gives it such pleasing aesthetics.

The UX hybrid is equipped as standard with the advanced second generation Lexus Safety System+, including five-star Euro NCAP Rating, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre Collision System, Automatic High Beam, Road Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Alert and Lane Tracing Assist.

In conclusion, this is a bold car that challenges much of what has gone before in this segment. That means it’s a great option for anyone who wants something unusual in terms of the styling and powertrain.

Lexus UX F Sport Premium Plus

PRICE: £33,905 on the road

ENGINE: Two-litre petrol electric hybrid

TRANSMISSION: CVT with manual mode, driving front wheels

ECONOMY: 65.7mpg

EMISSIONS: 103g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and top speed of 110mph

The Lexus UX boasts a highly individual and quality-rich interior

One thing’s for certain: you’re not going to mistake the Lexus UX for any of its rivals. While the exterior design is filtered down from the larger Lexus SUVs, it’s refreshingly different in a segment filled with me-too designs.

The now unmistakable Lexus ‘spindle’ grille features a new mesh pattern not seen on the NX and RX models, while LED headlights are standard across the range. The wheel arch mouldings are designed for the rigours of the urban jungle, rather than strenuous off-road challenges, while the rear lights start at the top of the rear wing and span the rear of the vehicle.

The standard-fit 17-inch alloy wheels feature Gurney flaps along the spoke edges to reduce wind resistance and increase airflow, although non-aero 18-inch alloys are available as an option. Nine paint colours are offered in the UK, including a couple developed exclusively for this country: Terrane Khaki and Celestial Blue. It looks particularly striking in solid red or metallic blue, but we wonder how many buyers will take this bold approach.

• The best SUVs to buy now

An interior that’s rich in quality and highly individual gives the UX genuine standout qualities in an overcrowded segment. Lexus has worked hard to give the car the feel of its larger saloons and SUVs, adding little touches to give the UX showroom appeal.

The level of standard specification is high, including a comprehensive array of active and passive safety devices, and there are three trim levels to choose from: UX, F Sport and Takumi. Prices start from around £30,000, but rise to £40,000 for the flagship model.

It’s not cheap, then, but thanks to its bold styling, smart interior and impressive level of kit, the Lexus UX promises to make quite an entrance. Read on to discover our thoughts on the latest UX 250h.

njoy the commanding seating position and excellent visibility of a modern compact SUV. A low centre of gravity, 184 DIN hp, and a 0-62 mph time of 8.5 seconds. Delivering precise driving dynamics that you wouldn’t expect in a SUV described by Top Gear as “a unique solution and silhouette in a crowded segment.

The boot is too small and the space inside the cabin is merely adequate

The Lexus UX doesn’t present an entirely convincing case as a serious family car. There’s an overriding sense that the car was designed with front seat passengers in mind – it feels more like a raised hatchback than a high-riding SUV. This will appeal to some, while others might prefer something with a little more versatility.

Size

At 4,495mm in length, 1,840mm wide (without mirrors), and up to 1,540mm tall, the UX is slightly longer and taller than the BMW X2, and a touch narrower. It’s also longer than the Volvo XC40 (4,425mm).

But, crucially, the XC40 is also wider (1,910mm) and taller (1,658mm), which creates a larger cabin and a bigger boot. You tend to sit down in the UX, rather than climb up as you do in other SUVs.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Having said all of the above, the amount of space isn’t too bad, especially given the styling. The driver and front seat passenger get the best deal, with ample headroom and a pleasant feeling of being cocooned behind the wraparound dashboard.

In the back, headroom and legroom would be best described as adequate, with the low-set seats managing to offset the effects of the sloping roofline. Passengers might want to avoid the middle seat, mind, as it sits higher than the outer rear seats and space for feet and knees is compromised by the centre console.

Image 15 of 16Lexus UX - back seats

Image 15 of 16

It just never feels as spacious and airy as a more conventionally-styled SUV, with the narrow rear windows servicing to create a claustrophobic feel.

Boot

Lexus hasn’t confirmed the official figures for the UX’s luggage capacity, and this, if you’ll excuse the pun, speaks volumes, because the boot looks alarmingly small. We wouldn’t be surprised to discover that it’s a little smaller than the 375-litre boot in the Ford Focus.

The rear bench splits 60:40 to provide additional luggage space if you aren’t ferrying rear passengers, but the steeply raked rear window will limit the carrying potential of the UX. Even the coupe-styled BMW X2 is more practical, offering 470 litres of boot capacity.

The new UX Hybrid is equipped as standard with the advanced second generation Lexus Safety System+. The features include:

- 5-star Euro NCAP Rating

- Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

- Pre Collision System (PCS)

- Automatic High Beam (AHB)

- Road Sign Recognition (RSA)

- Lane Departure Alert

- Lane Tracing Assist

The Lexus UX hybrid is good to drive, economical and should be easy to live with, too

Based on our early drive, the Lexus UX is shaping up to be a genuine alternative to the best compact SUVs you can buy. The styling is daring and different, the interior is finished to the usual Lexus high standards, and it’s packed with an impressive array of safety equipment.

There’s only one powertrain available in the UK, but the 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid system in the 250h delivers punchy acceleration while maximising fuel economy, and even the CVT transmission feels smooth and relatively alert. It’s not perfect; the infotainment system is too fiddly – there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – and the boot is too small. But if the UX stacks up after our first UK drive, this could be one of the most compelling and attractive cars in the segment.

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Lexus UX 250h

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