Lexus has unveiled in a world premiere its brand-new entry-level compact crossover at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. The Lexus UX is what its manufacturer dubs an “Urban Explorer”, but one with definite luxury overtones. It’s the first-ever compact crossover produced by Toyota’s luxury-car division, and thus the smallest and most accessible utility model it has built.
The distinctive front grille and other exterior design elements immediately identify the UX as a Lexus – nothing revolutionary on that front. It is, however, the first Lexus to be built on the company’s new GA-C global architecture, which calls for a low centre of gravity (lower than any other vehicle in the category) and increased body rigidity, all in the service of delivering a nimble, responsive, hatchback-like driving experience.
“We… focused on giving the UX a distinctive driving feel that would resonate with the customer. I wanted to overturn the image of a crossover with a high body that requires careful manoeuvring and offer a car with nimble performance and excellent manoeuvrability that make it as easy to drive as a hatchback.”
- Chika Kako, Chief Engineer of the UX for Lexus
The cabin of the Lexus UX is centered around the driver-focused cockpit, with particular attention paid to optimizing sightlines. As with the exterior design approach, the idea was to erase preconceptions of the SUV driving experience and make piloting the UX crossover akin to driving a sporty hatchback.
The instrumentation firmly focused on the driver’s cockpit creates a more relaxed environment for passengers, one that belies the compact dimensions of this compact crossover. Again, care has been taken to maximize visibility from every seat, and stick to a minimalist approach throughout the cabin to maintain the feeling of airy openness. The central console, for example, neatly integrates audio commands into a palm rest.
Elegant performance with peace of mind. This was the focus when devising the powertrain for the new Lexus UX, based on the aforementioned new CA-C architecture. The high-efficiency 2.0L engine is supported by Lexus’s first Direct-Shift CVT transmission and specially calibrated suspension and steering. The other option for buyers will be the new, fourth-generation hybrid system in the UX 250h iteration; the gas and electric motors are expected to have a total output of 178 hp.