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In-depth reviews

Lexus UX review - Engines, performance and drive

The UX offers quite un-Lexus-like levels of driver engagement, with tight body control and a punchy powertrain

Compact SUVs aren’t renowned for their sharp handling and gutsy performance, but Lexus uses words such as ‘exciting’ and ‘attitude’ to position the UX in its segment. And, based on our initial drive, there are reasons to be optimistic if you’re after an SUV that’s enjoyable to drive.

The UX shares its platform with the Toyota C-HR, which means tight body control and a composed ride. When cornering, the UX applies a degree of brake control on the inside, which reduces understeer. While that sounds good on paper, it feels even better on the road.

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The steering is well weighted and direct, too, thanks, in part, to the mounting of the steering rack directly to the subframe, without the need for rubber bushes. This reduces vibrations and flex, delivering a level of steering sharpness that is largely absent from this segment.

We’d even go as far as to claim that the CVT automatic transmission – so often a party-pooper in an otherwise entertaining car – is a positive aspect of the UX. The changes are smooth and seamless, while the power delivery is more linear than in other transmissions of this type. It’s actually pleasant to use, which isn’t something we’d say about many CVTs.

There are paddles either side of the steering wheel, but these aren’t for manually changing gear. Instead, they’re for setting the rate of regenerative braking, which helps to charge the UX’s hybrid battery.

The majority of UX 250h models sold in the UK will be front-wheel drive, but an E-Four electric all-wheel drive variant is available. It uses a separate electric motor integrated into the rear differential to distribute power between the front and rear axles. There are many advantages here, including sharper cornering and improved grip on slippery surfaces, but in reality you’re unlikely to notice the difference in day-to-day driving. The added expense means we’d stick with the front-drive model.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is mated to two electric motors to deliver a total system output of 176bhp. It means that the UX can sprint to 62mph in just 8.5 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 110mph.

This is more than quick enough for a compact SUV, with the CVT transmission delivering smooth and relatively rapid acceleration when required. Equally impressive is the way the UX settles down to a refined and comfortable cruise when the performance isn’t wanted.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    250h 2.0 5dr CVT [without Nav]
  • Gearbox type
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  • Price
    £29,004

Most Economical

  • Name
    250h 2.0 5dr CVT [without Nav]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £29,004

Fastest

  • Name
    250h 2.0 5dr CVT [without Nav]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £29,004
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