Lexus UX: new compact SUV revealed ahead of Geneva

Published: 06 March 2018

► Bold design for new Lexus UX
► Baby SUV, hot hatch handling

► More details at Geneva show

Making its bow in production form at the 2018 Geneva motor show is the Lexus UX, the smallest – and most distinctive – of the Japanese luxury marque’s three-pronged SUV offering in Europe.

After a couple of shadowy teaser images, we can now see the real thing and even in slightly sanitised production form, the UX is still bold for an SUV, with many of the styling cues from its 2016 concept namesake.

While it maintains the same design language as other Lexus cars and features the same heavily stylised spindle grille, it looks a little more aggressive – mainly thanks to more muscular wings, haunches and a high beltline. Think Lexus LC more than Lexus RX.

This was a deliberate strategy of chief designer Tetsuo Miki, who wanted to convey impressions of strength and agility, most aptly illustrated with the raised front wings that stand proud of the bonnet line.

The 2016 Lexus UX concept car

‘We want the driver to be able to see where the wheels are to reinforce the UX’s agility,’ confimed Miki-san.

Forget any notions of going off-roading in the UX, though: that Lexus refers to it as an ‘urban explorer’ tells you all you need to know.

For everything else we’re expecting at the 2018 Geneva motor show, read our round-up here

New Lexus UX: the lowdown

Lexus says the UX will handle in a sporty fashion, too, and features an all-new platform that should reduce body roll and exhibit ‘hatchback’ handling thanks to a low centre of gravity. Which is a bold claim.

It's built upon the GA-C platform, already familiar from the Toyota C-HR and Prius which includes upgraded hybrid capability; this is a Lexus staple now, after all. Badged UX 250h, both front- and four-wheel drive versions of the 176bhp hybrid will be available, joined by a petrol-only UX 200 – there are no diesels.

Our sources suggest the new UX is scheduled to replace the CT hybrid hatchback, as the world switches off conventional bodystyles and laps up more crossovers and taller SUVs.

Lexus UX: new at the 2018 Geneva motor show

As such it’s set to become a core model for the brand, with the UX’s chief mission being to attract people to the marque who wouldn’t have otherwise considered anything from the stable, but remains comfortable and impeccably built to satisfy Lexus loyalists.

That also explains why it’s boldy styled, with references to the world of racing. That full-width rear light bar not only looks contemporary, the flick-ups at the end are representative of the slender tail lights on LMP1 racing cars.

As for the interior, although not as wild as the UX Concept’s was, it nevertheless looks distinctive, borrowing many cues from the recently launched LS luxury saloon.

Like the driving position itself, the instruments and controls are set low, reinforcing the UX’s sportiness, while Miki-san suggests the broad horizontal lines are further reminders to occupants of the ‘Lexus’s strength and security.’

Read our Lexus reviews here

By CAR's road test team

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