Lexus has introduced the UX 250h and it is said that the UX is stands for Urban Crossover. Which is very suiting if you were to ask us. Like many car manufacturers Lexus has contributed to the market with this subcompact SUV that is aimed to woo millennials and eventually take on other luxury car brands.
Lexus’ pitch for the UX is straightforward: a smaller version of its SUV line-up, intended for urban drivers who want a higher seating position and more flexible design, but scaled for city streets. It is the smallest of the company’s SUV range, and saw the debut of an all-new platform under the sheet metal.
First impressions count and the exterior of the car is something that pleases the eye. Not too foreign, nor is it striking either; The front of the UX 250h is typical of the Lexus design and we’re hooked on the razer like headlights with the sharp lines. However, we feel like this luxury subcompact SUV is very reminiscent of its not so distant cousin the Toyota C-HR. Then again most of the subcompact SUV’s of Japanese origin have many things in common and we cannot shake the feeling of uncertainty on whether or not this was a good decision. The rear light is another added feature that stuck out for us as it wraps from one end of the car to the other, Lexus calls this “Aero Stabilising Rear Light”. We do wish that Lexus could have included that to be the brake light like in other high-end models such as Porsche and Audi.
Step inside the vehicle and the first thing you’ll notice is how the interior of the Lexus UX 250h boasts thee most comfortable seats wrapped up in leather. The dash Is also covered up with leather while the centre console has a high gloss finish. However, this Lexus provides a pretty compact sitting arrangement at the back seat. The head space and leg room would not accommodate a tall person especially with an average to tall driver and passenger seated in the front. Another disappointing fact is that the boot space is pretty much non-existent.
Up front the infotainment system supports Apple Carplay and Android Auto, even though the screen is not a touch screen, this includes free Wi-Fi connectivity for the driver and passengers under the ‘Lexus Connect’ banner. Lexus opted to keep things classic as CD reader and player makes an appearance in this car – we thought millennials know nothing about CDs? The track pad navigation system found in the centre console is not user friendly either and we wouldn’t encourage you using it while driving. Thankfully a wireless mobile charger is available and makes a world of a difference when you are already using the four USB chargers in the car. Two in the front and two at the back. I mean you never know when you’ll need to charge five devices. The new normal can be quite surprising.
The engine power is the most undesirable trait next to the transmission. The 2.0l engine lacks power especially when you need it most like when you must overtake another vehicle. This can also frustrate you when going uphill as you will noticeably hear the engine complaining. The Lexus UX 250h also uses a higher efficiency version of Toyota’s 10-speed Direct Shift CVT transmission which, surprisingly, also adds to that frustration. We gathered fuel efficiency was the driving factor to using this combination. Even with that said, we didn’t see that much of efficiency especially when driving a longer distance on the highway. The efficiency is only noticeable when you’re driving in the city and the battery power (EV mode) that kicks in at lower speeds. The vehicle is paired with a fourth-gen hybrid drive system designed just for this platform.
Overall, the Lexus UX 250h drives very comfortably even with the driver seating being lower than other cars in its class. Although, you still do feel like you’re driving a luxury car. There is some drawbacks in the design of the car resulting in space constrictions but on the upper hand, the car being a hybrid makes it worth your while especially if you’re going to drive mainly in the city. The luxury subcompact SUV comes in with a R690 300 price tag and offers a standard warranty of 7 years or 105 000km with extended options.