Lexus brings wide-ranging upgrades to its UX Compact Luxury SUV
  • New multimedia system with greater functionality and enlarged display
  • New bi-tone paint option F Sport
  • Adaptive Variable Suspension made a standard feature of the UX F Sport
  • Lexus Safety System+ gains new capabilities

Lexus has strengthened the appeal of its UX compact urban SUV, one of its best-selling models in SA, with upgrades for the full self-charging hybrid UX 250h range.

Available in three model grades and exclusive in hybrid, all derivatives adopt a new multimedia system that provides improved connectivity, faster performance and easier operation. New features include user-friendly 12,3-inch touchscreens, an improved navigation system and the introduction of wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto (cable).

Other changes include enhanced and additional Lexus Safety System+ functions, as well as a new F Sport bi-tone paintwork option for the UX 250h F Sport.

The new UX 250h comes in EX grade (entry level), SE grade as well as F Sport – which are all available for purchase – guarantee that the UX model range is bound to be a good sell.

Self-charging hybrid electric UX 250h

The self-charging hybrid electric UX 250h is powered by a combination of a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor.

The UX comes standard as a front wheel drive range. The front-wheel drive Lexus UX 250h range boasts superior performance thanks to its fourth-generation self-charging hybrid powertrain technology which provides exhilarating driving with high-speed responsiveness and a feeling of smooth, natural acceleration.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine alone delivers 107kW of power at 6000rpm and 180Nm of torque at 4400rpm, but when combined with the electric motor, provides a total system output of 135kW.

This equates to a very laudable 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.5 seconds. Fuel economy though is a real eye-opener – returning figures of 4.5-litres/100km combined and CO2 emissions of just 103g/km.

Sales Success

The UX is one of Lexus’ best-selling models in South Africa and closely rivals the mid-size NX model. Deemed as a true urban explorers’ car, the UX has won the hearts of many younger customers and first-time buyers in the luxury segment. The UX is also the best New Energy Vehicle (NEV) seller in the premium vehicle market with an average of 26% share of Lexus’ SUV line-up since its launch.

The key decision factors for UX buyers are the electrified powertrains, which was one of the motivating reasons to market the UX as an all-hybrid range since 2021.

The Flexibility of an SUV, the Driving Characteristics of a Hatchback

The UX has its origins in Lexus’ ambition to develop a “Creative Urban Explorer,” a vehicle that offers both the secure feeling of a crossover/SUV and the driving quality of a sophisticated hatchback.

In the UX, Lexus’ world-class refinement and quietness levels are combined with dynamic characteristics which prove that driving can still be enjoyable with the higher-riding practicality of an SUV.

The car is built on Lexus’ GA-C global architecture platform, a light structure which is also exceptionally rigid, sharpening responses to driver inputs. The new model enhances chassis performance with the introduction of a more rigid steel back door reinforcement and additional spot welds on the back panel and side members.

The 2,640 mm wheelbase contributes to a smooth and stable ride, as well as cabin roominess, while the 10.4 m kerb-to-kerb turning diameter makes manoeuvring and parking easy. Ride and handling also benefit from the UX’s low centre of gravity, achieved partly by locating the battery beneath the floor under the rear seats in the UX 250h, as well as by using lightweight aluminium for the side doors, wings and bonnet, and composite materials for the tailgate.

The UX evokes the feel of a dynamic, luxury hatchback the moment the driver settles behind the wheel: despite the higher seating position, there is a relatively short hip-to-heel distance which gives the driver the feeling of being closer to the ground than in other SUVs.

On the move, Lexus Drive Mode Select allows the driving experience to be tailored to suit the conditions or driver preference. Normal drive mode provides an optimal balance between driving performance and fuel economy; ECO mode maximises fuel savings by smoothing the throttle response and moderating air conditioning operation; and Sport mode delivers quicker throttle response and increased steering feel.

The F Sport Grade

The F Sport package comes standard with a UX-tailored version of the new high-response Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system that debuted on the Lexus LC and LS flagship coupe and sedan. The system increases damping force to minimise roll when cornering or changing lanes and reduces damping force in straight-line driving to preserve ride quality. With AVS, the vehicle’s Drive Mode Selector adds the Sport S+ mode which activates the system.

Moving indoors, the F Sport-exclusive cabin features include front sports seats made with a highly supportive integrated-foaming technique first developed for Lexus F models. The digitally rendered instrument meter features a movable virtual ring inspired by the Lexus LFA supercar. A leather-covered F SPORT steering wheel, leather-trimmed shift knob, eight-inch TFT colour display, aluminium pedals and footrest round off the interior package.

Lexus multimedia and connectivity

The UX’s new Lexus multimedia system gives a faster response, more intuitive, human-centred operation, and increased functionality.

According to equipment grade, all the models are fitted with 12.3-inch displays, with new touchscreen technology replacing the previous trackpad control. The new displays sit 143mm further forward on the instrument panel, bringing them closer to the driver for comfortable operation. They present crisper graphics – in high definition on the 12.3-inch screen.

Significantly increased computing power means command responses are quicker, while “always connected” cloud-based navigation is provided as standard, giving access to real-time road and traffic information for easier journey planning.

Smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay (wireless connection) or Android Auto (wired connection) is provided as standard and, for complete convenience, updates to the multimedia system software can be delivered over-the-air using the car’s DCM (data communication module).

Connectivity options include a USB-A port in the centre console box for playback of high-resolution sound sources and a Type C (front USB charging and two rear USB).

A redesign of the centre console uses the space where the multimedia trackpad was located for the controls for the heated front seats. The console also gains an illuminated tray in front of the air conditioning control panel, with space to hold a large smartphone.

Interior and Exterior Revisions

In the cabin, there is one new colour trim being introduced, namely Hazel Brown - an upholstery option that’s available in in synthetic (EX grade) and genuine leather (SE). The F Sport also boasts three standard trims which comprise white, F Black and Flare Red. The perforated leather upholstery has a fresh look with a new kagome stitchwork pattern, inspired by a traditional Japanese basket weave. The synthetic leather upholstery has a new sashiko pleating effect.

The UX is available with new exterior paintwork option, Sonic Iridium and Poseidon Blue now becomes a standard option for the F Sport models. The revised range also provides a wider choice of bi-tone finishes, with six colours available in combination with contrasting black roof and black roof rails on the F Sport models. The new bi-tone colours include White Nova, Sonic Iridium, Sonic Chrome, Madder Red, Blazing Carnelian and Poseidon Blue.

UX 250h F Sport

The UX 250h F Sport now includes - as standard Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) - rear performance shock absorbers, and front and rear performance rods (strut braces). The AVS provides continuous adjustment of the damping force at each wheel, responding to signals from steering, yaw rate, and linear G-sensors. This results in sharper handling and chassis response, reduced body roll when cornering and smoother ride quality. The AVS’ control system has been adjusted so there is a seamless shift to high damping force. It is also tuned to reduce high and mid-frequency vibration.

There is also an even more precise steering feel, thanks to a new rigid joint between the top of the steering gearbox mount and the front suspension member. To optimise the benefits of this, the shock absorber damping force has been fine-tuned, enhancing the linear steering feel.

Lexus Safety System+

Revisions to the UX‘s Lexus Safety System+ bring improved performance in the Pre-Collision System, equipping the car with Intersection Turning Assist for safer left and right turns across traffic at intersections and Emergency Steering Assist, which helps the driver to steer to avoid obstacles without departing from their traffic lane. The all-speed dynamic cruise control adopts Curve Speed Reduction, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to suit the radius of a bend in the road.

Last, but not least, there are cosmetic enhancements which include some stylistic fettling of the front headlamps, rear combination lamps and darker outer mirrors (with electrochromatic memory for the higher-end specs) which come standard in black.

Pricing And Service Information

The Lexus UX models retail from R792 700 for the EX-grade, R874 300 for the SE-grade, R928 900 for the F Sport and R939 300 for the F Sport Bi-tone grade. The entire UX range boasts a best-in-class 7-years/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle service intervals are pegged at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year. The models furthermore come with an additional 8-years/195 000 km hybrid battery warranty.