Lexus has kept its model choice and range expansion quite subtle over the years but, ensuring it placed new models into new market segments for the luxury brand – the latest being the UX compact crossover or, as it says “Urban X-over”.
“The Lexus UX is designed for the modern urban explorer seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on luxury driving,” says Glenn Crompton, Vice President of Lexus Sales and Marketing. “The UX is designed to appeal to young buyers who seek not only what is new and exciting, but what is also relevant to their lifestyles.”
The 2019 UX is the first Lexus constructed on the new Global Architecture Compact (GA C) platform that features a lightweight yet super-rigid structure, extremely low center of gravity and refined suspension tuning.
“Lexus wanted to positively overturn the image of a crossover with a high body that requires careful manoeuvring, and offer a car with nimble performance and excellent manoeuvrability that makes it as easy to drive as a sedan,” says Chief Engineer Kako, Executive Vice President of Lexus International.
The 2019 Lexus UX is available in two FWD versions: the UX 200 introduces a new 2,0 litre, four-cylinder engine coupled with a new Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (D CVT), while the UX 250h pairs a higher-efficiency version of the 2,0 litre petrol engine with a new fourth-generation hybrid drive system engineered specifically for this platform. The model range also includes an F Sport model in 200 guise.
The spindle grille, though sharing its basic form with other Lexus models, is unique to the UX. It features a new block-shape mesh pattern with individual elements that gradually change in shape as they radiate out from the central Lexus emblem. The grille creates an intriguing three-dimensional appearance that changes with the viewing angle.
Daytime running lights arranged in an arrowhead motif above the headlights complement the Lexus L-shaped lighting signature. These appear like brows above the standard single-projector dual-beam LED headlights.
The full-width rear lights project a distinctive night-time signature formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs tapering toward the center, measuring just 3 mm thick at its narrowest point.
The wheel arch moldings that protect the body from gravel thrown up by the tyres, use airflow over their edges to reduce turbulence and lift, contributing to the vehicle’s stability.
A similar contribution is made by the rear combination lamps. Unique Aero Stabilising Blade Lights begin at the top of the rear fenders and span the rear of the vehicle. By guiding airflow around the rear of the UX, this design also reduces turbulence and lift, benefiting vehicle stability when cornering and driving in crosswinds.
The standard 5-spoke 18 x 6,5 inch aluminium alloy aero ventilating wheels feature Gurney flaps along the spoke edges designed to reduce wind resistance while also increasing the airflow to cool the disc brakes. The design pulls air from the inside of the wheel, while the air flow on the outer side of the vehicle is regulated to follow the wheel surface.
The F Sport package is available exclusively in UX 200 guise. Bespoke F Sport suspension tuning includes specific springs and stabiliser bars, plus a rear performance damper for a more refined ride. The 18 inch, five twin-spoke aluminium alloy wheels unique to the F SPORT are even more rigid than standard UX wheels, contributing to responsiveness and handling agility.
The F Sport comes standard with a UX-tailored version of the new high-response Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system that debuted on the Lexus LC and LS flagship coupé and sedan. The system increases damping force to minimise roll when cornering or changing lanes and reduces damping force in straight-line driving to preserve ride quality. With AVS, the vehicle’s Drive Mode Selector adds the Sport S+ mode which activates the system. (This is discussed in detail later in this release.)
The F Sport transformation includes an exclusive grille design featuring a mesh-pattern created by individual L-shaped pieces. The exclusive F Sport front bumper features large fog lamp bezels with L-shaped chrome moldings and the same mesh pattern as the grille. A revised rear bumper and jet-black trim on the front and rear moldings complete the F Sport look.
F Sport-exclusive interior features include front sports seats made with an integrated-foaming technique first developed for Lexus F models. The digitally-rendered instrument meter features a movable virtual ring inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar. A leather-covered F SPORT steering wheel, leather-trimmed shift knob, eight inch TFT colour display, aluminium pedals and footrest are also part of the package.
The UX offers 6-way manual (UX 200 EX) or 8-way power-adjustable (F Sport and Hybrid) front seats, the latter with adjustable lumbar support for the driver.
Lexus luxury extends throughout the UX cabin. The three-spoke steering wheel and analogue clock come from the Lexus LS and Lexus Climate Concierge, as used in other Lexus models, automatically links heating and cooling airflow with the heated and ventilated seats to optimise interior temperature comfort.
Lexus UX Chief Engineer Kako, drew on her extensive experience in materials development and time spent working in Europe to help define the UX interior’s appearance and quality. The result is an uncluttered ‘less is more’ approach that makes the UX feel more inviting and accessible.
“When it comes to determining whether an interior is good or bad, controlling the overall balance between the continuity, unity and contrast is more important than the relative specifications of individual components,” she says.
The UX instrument panel design combines unique Lexus traits and intuitive technology. A 7 inch TFT LCD display meter digitally creates realistic, analogue gauges in a three-dimensional space.
The F Sport features a larger 8 inch TFT LCD display. For the F SPORT only, the movable meter ring, which originated in the Lexus LFA supercar and is also featured in the LC premium coupe, allows displayed content to be easily changed. Pushing a switch on the steering wheel moves the ring to the right and enlarges the multi-information display.
The 2019 Lexus UX models offer the latest in the brand’s multimedia and navigation technology. A 7-inch EMV (Electro Multi Vision) display is standard, and a 10,25 inch EMV (F Sport model) display is used with the available Lexus Navigation system.
The standard Lexus Premium Sound System can play back the highest-resolution digital audio formats from a USB device, while dual rear-seat USB ports enable passengers to use and re-charge their smartphones or tablets.
By using aluminum for the side doors, fenders and hood and composite materials for the tailgate, the UX has the lowest center of gravity of any vehicle in its class at 594 mm.
The MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension with trailing arms, both mounted to sub-frames, are specially tuned to deliver a combination of agility and comfort over well-worn urban street surfaces.
The new hybrid drive system combines the new 2,0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine coupled with two electric motor-generators in a new-generation hybrid transaxle that is more compact, lighter and has less internal friction than previous Lexus hybrid systems. Compared to similarly-sized Lexus hybrid, the power control unit of the UX is more powerful yet 20% smaller and 10% lighter.
The new transaxle mounts the electric motor-generators (MG1 and MG2) coaxially rather than in-line. The resulting smaller and lighter package reduces frictional losses by 25% compared to the previous Lexus hybrids. In addition, MG2 is now a higher-speed motor, yielding better performance and efficiency.
The Hybrid delivers 107 kW of power at 6 000 r/min and 180 Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min (total system output of 135 kW), equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8,5 seconds, topped off by a maximum speed of 177 km/h (governed). It produces fuel economy figures of 4,5 l/100km combined ans CO2 emissions of 103 g/km.
All UX models are equipped with eight crash bags and the Lexus Safety System that comes standard in the F Sport and Hybrid models and includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Crash System (PCS) – Brake Synchronised, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and LED Adaptive High-beam System (AHS).
The Lexus UX models retail from R599 000 for the EX grade, R699 000 for the Hybrid 250h SE and R726 200 for the F Sport. The entire UX range boasts a Lexus 7-year/105 000 km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000 km, alternatively once a year.