As promised last week, here are some early driving impressions of the new compact hybrid crossover from Lexus, the UX.
A quick update first: It will cost from €39,000 when it (250h 2WD version only) arrives in March.
The smallest crossover to date from the marque is coming late for 191-reg but still coincides with an overall major shift from superminis and family hatches to motors like this.
With a stop-off at the ABBA museum, I drove the UX around Stockholm last week. It made sense to do so because they are calling it an urban explorer, but that doesn’t stop it being a long-distance driver either – it certainly fared well on a short motorway stint.
Obviously a longer-driving verdict awaits on Irish roads, but I was impressed by its ability to absorb and deflect the bumps and bruises of street and road surfaces pock-marked by long winters and tram lines.
The hybrid system, with the new 2-litre petrol engine, gave me plenty of pick-up over short distances. There was no sense of CVT whine from start either. With 178PS at our disposal, we were never short of pep.
It’s a tightly structured package that adds some edge to what is a nicely comfortable, unusually agile drive.
Just to be clear on one thing: The fixed first gear CVT system only applies to the petrol version. I may have given the impression last week it was on the 250h that’s coming to Ireland.
I happen to think that materials throughout the cabin are probably the best I’ve come across at this level – even down low the plastics are of decent quality. As rivals include Audi Q2/3, Mercedes GLA, BMW X1, Volvo XC40, that is saying something.
We had excellent elbow room out front, but rear-seat space is not great, though I still had fair headroom.
It’s quite a low-slung car, but I had no problems getting in or out, and that didn’t that impinge when I was driving.
I tend to get lost or nearly lost a lot on these first drives, so a couple of sharp changes of direction to avert that highlighted a blessedly snappy turning radius (5.6m).
Somehow I don’t think I’ll be doing too many U-turns on my first impressions of the UX when it gets to Ireland.