Inside story

Given that the Lexus brand is renowned for fit, finish and material quality, seat design has been a special focus of attention. The seat structure incorporates polyurethane foam wrapped around an iron frame. It’s the flat cushion and raised side sections that support the hips and keep the body stable, while subtle depressions in the cushion’s surface allow for smaller occupants to enjoy the same level of body holding as larger people. The front seats are six-way manually adjustable in the UX model, and eight-way power-adjustable in the F Sport and Takumi, the latter with additional adjustable lumbar support for the driver.

The three-spoke steering wheel and analogue clock are from the Lexus LS flagship saloon. The Lexus Climate Concierge automatically links heating and cooling airflow with the heated and ventilated front seats for added comfort, a welcome feature during a week in which temperatures tipped 34 degrees C in southern Britain.

A plush leather upholstery finish with stitching was inspired by the Japanese sashiko technique used for making judo and kendo uniforms. It is combined with a pattern of perforations on the lower part of the seat derived from perfectly aligned mathematical curves and gradations.

The instrument panel in the UX grade model is black, while the Takumi version matches black with inlays plus a grain finish inspired by the appearance of the washi paper familiar from the traditional screens found in Japanese homes, in Black or Noble Brown. In the F Sport, the black instrument panel has red contrast stitching.

Further back, the powered liftgate reveals 320 litres of luggage space in the square-shaped boot, loaded to the tonneau cover with all the seats up and 1,231 litres with the rear seats folded, loaded to the roof. There are also plenty of cubby holes to store paraphernalia including the wide glovebox that glides open effortlessly.

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In the ambient lighting department, white LEDs shed light on the front footwells, glovebox, and console switches, LEDs also feature in the dome light, map lights and cargo area light. The air vents have a single-knob control for both airflow direction and volume. By combining the two functions in a single control, the vents can be made larger, improving airflow while reducing noise.

Other comfort and convenience features include power steering wheel adjustment, reversing camera display with guidelines, six-speaker audio system with DAB, four USB ports and Aux socket, heated outer rear seats, rear privacy glass, smart keyless entry, card key, smartphone wireless charger and illuminated door handles with puddle lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, sunroof, a 360-degree panoramic view monitor and acoustic windscreen.

Connectivity and infotainment

A touchpad located on the centre console to partly control the 10.3-inch multimedia display screen looks neat but can be a little awkward to use. That said, a helpful switch at the base of the touchpad can call up an operation screen with related functions, such as air conditioning and navigation, thereby facilitating easier access without having to click through menus.

The UX’s multimedia package features a seven-inch EMV (Electro Multi Vision) media and navigation display as standard on the UX grade and F Sport models; a 10.3-inch version is provided when the larger and more sophisticated Lexus Navigation system is specified (standard on the UX Takumi). 

The standard six-speaker system and optional eight-speaker upgrade system use bamboo charcoal speaker diaphragms to reduce mass and deliver natural-sounding voices and improved mid-range sound. Both systems create a more lifelike soundstage by using tweeters mounted at the sides of the instrument panel and reflecting sound off the windscreen. The eight-speaker system adds a centre-dash tweeter, a subwoofer mounted in the luggage area and a more powerful amplifier. 

A Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System – standard on the UX Takumi – uses a 13-speaker array, low-distortion 668W Class D eight-channel amplifier, Quantum Logic Surround Sound and ClariFi 2.0 technology to deliver an immersive, concert-like sound experience. 

Plenty of choice

The UX is available in the UK in three equipment grades: UX, F Sport and Takumi.

The UX-grade interior features include a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, AM/FM and DAB reception, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and fabric seat upholstery. 

Key features for the F Sport include front seats with fabric and Tahara upholstery and F Sport pedals and steering wheel. The specification also includes rear privacy glass, Active Sound Control, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, front and rear parking sensors with Intelligent Clearance Sonar and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The Takumi offers leather upholstery, washi paper-grain trim inlays, integrated front seat heating and ventilation, a bespoke Mark Levinson 13-speaker Premium Surround Sound system, 10.3-inch Lexus Navigation and multimedia display, 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor, colour head-up display, sunroof, power tailgate, auto-folding function for the door mirrors, smart entry system, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert with auto-braking function, power-adjustable steering wheel, and a memory setting for the driver’s seat steering wheel and door mirror.

Advanced driver assistance systems

Key to its safety performance is the second and latest version of Lexus Safety System+, an integrated safety package that provides a suite of active safety and driver assistance to help prevent accidents from happening or reduce their severity should an impact be unavoidable.

The Pre-Collision System (PCS) uses a front-mounted camera and millimetre-wave radar to detect vehicles and pedestrians on the road ahead. If risk of collision is calculated, the driver is automatically warned and extra braking force is provided the moment the brake pedal is pressed. If the driver fails to react and the system judges a collision to be imminent, the brakes are automatically applied to reduce vehicle speed and the force of any impact, and the seatbelts are tensioned. 

The functionality of the PCS has been increased so that it is now capable of detecting pedestrians in the vehicle’s path in both day and night-time driving, and bicycle riders during daylight hours.

The same radar unit is used to provide all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), which helps the driver maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Once the way ahead is clear, the RX automatically accelerates to its pre-set cruising speed.

Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) detects when the RX deviates from its correct traffic lane, without the turn indicators being used. The system will automatically provide a warning and steering inputs to help keep the vehicle centred in its lane, detecting markings on the road surface or the road margin. These features operate when the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is being used and can be switched off if desired.

Other ADAS technologies include adaptive variable suspension control; panoramic view monitor; blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert with auto brake; parking support brake; and sway warning. The latter involves the use of cameras to monitor the car’s position in its lane and the driver’s steering inputs. If it detects degrees of vehicle swaying caused by driver distraction or drowsiness, it will sound an alert and display a warning on the multi-information display, recommending the driver takes a break.

On the passive safety front, UX models are all equipped with eight airbags: driver and front passenger airbags; driver and front passenger knee airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact airbags and front to rear side curtain airbags.

On balance

The UX 250h is equipped with the fourth-generation Lexus self-charging hybrid powertrain, including a 2.0-litre petrol engine, hybrid transaxle, compact battery and power control unit.  It moves around town quietly and without any fuss and briskly accelerates when further out. We averaged 48 mpg over the past week, compared to an official estimate of 52 mpg. In the UK, the UX is offered with a fourth-generation self-charging hybrid powertrain or the option of full battery electric power in the UX 300e.  Throughout the cabin, the quality and finish of the upholstery, expensive-feeling trim materials and detailing continue to reflect the attention to detail that Lexus’ engineers have given this model. Rivals to this posh small SUV include the BMW X1, Audi Q2 and Volvo XC40.