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

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

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 experiences, Lexus has managed to create an SUV that’s enjoyable to drive.

When cornering, the Lexus UX applies a degree of brake control on the inside wheel, which reduces understeer. While that sounds good on paper, it feels even better on the road.

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 used in petrol-hybrid models – 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. Electric UXs come with a single-speed automatic transmission so there are no gear changes to worry about.

UX 300 e models are fitted with paddles behind the wheel for adjusting how much regenerative braking (which helps recharge a UX’s battery) is applied when a driver lifts off the throttle. Unfortunately, even the highest setting is not enough to bring the UX to a complete stop without assistance from traditional brakes. Furthermore, Lexus’ engineers have done a great job in ensuring the transition from regenerative braking to discs and pads is very smooth in fully-electric and hybrid UXs. 

The majority of hybrid UX 250h models sold in the UK are front-wheel drive, with E-Four all-wheel-drive versions in the minority.  The latter uses a separate electric motor integrated into the rear differential to send power to the back wheels. There are many advantages to this, 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

In front-wheel-drive hybrid models, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is mated to an electric motor delivering a total system output of 180bhp and 190Nm. This translates to a 0 to 62mph sprint time of 8.5 seconds. E-Four models are claimed to come with the same  power and torque outputs despite the extra motor capable of supplying a modest 7bhp and 55Nm of torque. E-Four models are slightly slower to 62mph from a standing start, taking 8.7 seconds. All hybrid models have 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.

Electric UX 300 e models are similar. Power output is claimed to be 201bhp and torque 300Nm. Sprinting from 0 to 62mph takes just 7.5 seconds and top speed is 99mph.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    250h 2.0 5dr CVT [without Nav]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • 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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