What is it?
Some six months after we got our first taste of the Lexus UX in pre-production form in Sweden, the baby brother to the NX and RX SUVs has finally landed in the UK.
It’s an interesting looking motor, isn’t it? I dare say some will find its myriad creases, folds and angles rather polarising; but to these eyes the compact SUV cuts a fine form indeed.
Our experience of the model Lexus hopes will help push it through the 100,000 annual European sales mark by 2020 has so far been limited to the F-Sport variant, but this time around we’re driving it in standard, £29,900 guise. Well, standard guise but with the optional £4,300 Premium Pack Plus equipped, bringing its total asking price up to £34,100. That’s quite a sum, but the equipment it introduces to the UX’s alternatively attractive cabin does help soothe the sting.
The list of new features includes sumptuously-upholstered leather seats; seat heaters; a heated steering wheel; and curious, but visually striking “Japanese paper-inspired” upholstery for the dashtop. The result is a very positive one indeed; of the current crop of upmarket compact SUVs I’d say the UX sits towards the top of the list in terms of visual and material appeal. Premium Plus doesn’t only add to the UX’s cabin, either: 18in alloys; privacy glass; and front and rear parking sensors are also thrown into the mix.
What's it like?
The crucial point of difference between this particular UX and the F-Sport we drove on the international launch all those months ago is that it forgoes that model’s adaptive dampers and sportier suspension.
The result is a distinctly soft-edged primary ride that, while perfectly agreeable around town, does feel almost constantly unsettled on Britain’s more questionably surfaced A- and B-roads. Head-toss is fairly conspicuous as a result, while undulating surfaces aren’t smoothed out with quite the level of sophistication you’d hope for from a vehicle geared more towards comfort and refinement. Instead, its doughier suspension calibration means it just sort of wallows its way over lumpier stretches of Tarmac.
Without the ability to firm up the UX’s dampers during bouts of more animated driving, body roll through bends is also noticeably pronounced - particularly during quicker directional changes. Its front tyres don’t require much in the way of provocation to lose purchase and nudge into gentle, but considerable, understeer, either. Combine all this with a steering rack that’s muted, but admittedly linear and progressive, and the UX doesn’t feel particularly athletic. Certainly not as athletic as its dashing exterior suggests it might be, in any case. It’s similar to that one kid at school who wasn’t particularly talented on the playing field, but always had the flashiest sports gear anyway.