Lexus UX becomes world's first tattooed car

Published: 18 March 2020

► Bold design for new Lexus UX
► Baby SUV has hybrid and EV models

► On sale now, 300e coming 2021

Lexus has commissioned the world’s first tattooed car - the UX crossover that's been inked by London tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe. Highly frivolous, but a good way to inject some colour into our dreary world at this challenging time.

She took a white Lexus UX as her blank canvas and then applied a Dremel drill instead of a tattooing needle to scratch away the paint and draw a koi carp motif along the baby SUV's flanks. Gold leaf was used and her design was topped by a special lacquer so it can be driven on the road.

Sadly, there are no plans to offer a UX with tats option in UK showrooms. Hardly surprising when you consider that the estimated cost of this one-off was put at £120,000. 

Lexus UX electric: the first full Lexus EV

Lexus UX electric

Strip away the tattoos, and you can soon order Lexus's first full-electric production car, a battery-powered UX crossover. The hybrid model has been a thing since early 2018, but the new UX 300e variant joins the range as part of Lexus's future electrification strategy.

If you can wait until January 2021 to order one, a UX 300e features a 53.4kWh battery pack and an e-motor that produces 201bhp and 221lb ft. That power train means the 300e is good for a 7.5sec 0-62mph sprint, a top speed of 99mph and a WLTP range of more than 186 miles.

Lexus UX: the rest of the range

The UX is the smallest – and most distinctive – of the Japanese luxury marque’s now three-pronged SUV offering in Europe. 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.

At the intitial reveal, Lexus told us that 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 for a small SUV, and one that was largely disproven when we first drove it.

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. The hybrid version is UX 250h and both front- and four-wheel drive versions of the 176bhp hybrid are available, joined by a petrol-only UX 200 that the UK doesn't get.

Lexus UX interior

The UX’s chief mission is to attract people to the marque who wouldn’t have otherwise considered anything from the stable. 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

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

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