The wraps have come off the Lexus UX SUV at the Geneva Motor Show, revealing an upmarket rival to the Audi Q2, BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40. Striking looks should help it stand out, as will Lexus’ omission of a diesel, with all the focus instead on hybrid petrol technology.
It’s the smallest SUV from Lexus so far, and the latest to wear its sharp-edged corporate identity and huge ‘spindle grille’. The latter includes a new type of mesh with individual blocks that change in shape as they radiate outwards from the Lexus badge, giving a three-dimensional effect. The UX’s sides are characterised by its large wheelarches with squared-off black cladding and sharp creases above the wheels.
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At the back, there"s a continuous strip of light formed by 120 LEDs that’s just 3mm thick at its narrowest point. This expands to form the rear light clusters, and is set to become a signature feature for Lexus.
The interior shows off a new driver-centric dashboard design, along with slim A-pillars designed to improve visibility from behind the wheel. Technology will also get a boost with digital instruments and a widescreen infotainment display.
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An F Sport version will be fitted with firmer suspension to suit keen drivers, along with upgrades to sports seats, an LFA supercar-style instrument display with concentric rings and a special steering wheel and pedals. A feature called Active Sound Control (ASC) will also be able to simulate the sound made by conventional gearboxes, while Sonic Interaction Design (SID) makes the UX sound more exciting in its Sport S+ mode.
Sitting on new underpinnings, the UX 250h is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s connected to a hybrid setup and delivers up to 176bhp. A CVT automatic gearbox is fitted as standard, but customers will be able to choose between front or ‘E-Four’ four-wheel drive. The latter works by putting an extra electric motor at the rear axle, powering the back wheels if a loss of grip is detected at speeds below 44mph.
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A UX 200 model was also shown, without hybrid technology, but featuring an efficient 2.0-litre petrol and a new ‘direct shift CVT gearbox’ for a sportier driving feel. At the moment it’s not clear if the UX 200 will be offered in the UK.
The UX is a near-production development of a concept first shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 and was joined by the Lexus RX L, a seven-seat SUV making its European debut at the show. The longer version of the Lexus RX will go on sale in the UK in May and will provide a new rival for the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Like the UX, the range will focus on a hybrid version, badged RX 450h L, but again, no diesel will be offered.
Other highlights on Lexus’ Geneva show stand include the Lexus LF-1 Unlimited concept, the firm’s statement of intent to build a large luxury SUV to rival the forthcoming Audi Q8. A special-edition Lexus RC F coupe will also be shown, to commemorate 10 years of Lexus’ ‘F’ performance brand.