Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Just one engine option – a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid
  • Badged UX 250h, it’s quiet and refined
  • Performance best described as adequate

Performance is delivered by just one engine – a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid badged UX 250h with 184hp and 190Nm of torque. Lexus describes it as a self-charging hybrid, which basically means you don’t need to plug it in and it sorts itself out which mode it’s in.

>> We rate the best hybrid SUVs for 2020

The most popular version is the front-wheel drive model, and this will take 8.5 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint. Go for the E-Four four-wheel drive model and this drops ever so slightly to 8.7 seconds – largely due to the extra weight it’s carrying around.

In reality, the UX doesn’t feel as rapid as those figures suggest when you floor the throttle. It takes a little while for the engine to get going, but when it does it surges forwards smoothly and without any real fuss. The main thing you’ll notice is the moan from the engine as the revs soar – a characteristic we’ve become used to with hybrid powertrains and CVT transmissions. However it calms down when you’re up to speed, and the UX isn’t the kind of car you’d be thrashing around anyway.

Everywhere else, the comfortable and quiet nature of the UX means it’s very refined and relaxed, while pottering around town allows you to travel for a lot of the time purely on battery power. That means it’s very smooth and silent, with just a little murmur from the engine when it does kick in.

Lexus UX 250h E-Four

The E-Four system directs drive to the rear wheels when it detects the front pair could do with extra traction. Having driven both versions over similar road conditions, we suspect the E-Four package isn’t going to be beneficial to most UX buyers.

Although the UX 250h E-Four has the same top speed as its front-wheel drive sibling (110mph), the extra weight of the system slows the 0-62mph time a shade to 8.7 seconds.

Lexus refers to the hybrid UX’s gearbox as an electronic continuously variable transmission, but it’s not a CVT in the conventional sense – strictly speaking it’s a planetary gear set. Rather than get bogged-down in technicalities, the important thing to know is that it’s less whiny than previous iterations of the transmission.

How does it handle?

  • The UX feels more nimble than you’d expect
  • Nicely weighted steering and minimal roll
  • Feels more like a hatchback to drive than SUV

The UX performs well around town – the hint is in the name as it stands for ‘Urban Crossover’. It’s very quiet running in EV mode for a lot of the time, but even when it’s not, it’s very hushed. Its small size and tight turning circle make it great for nipping around city streets. Whether you’re in Eco or Normal driving modes, it’s a smooth and relaxed operation.

If you’ve sampled other Lexuses, particularly the CT and NX, you’ll note that the UX’s controls feel weightier. They still feel light around town, but the small amount of extra force you need to haul it about on windier, quicker roads makes it more engaging than its siblings.

While it’s nimble on twisty B-roads, it doesn’t strike its driver as being an athletically enthusiastic sporty SUV. Traction is more than ample – even on front-wheel drive versions – but you don’t find yourself deliberately seeking to carry speed into corners with a view of powering fast out of them – an X1 or an E-Pace perform better in this regard. A lot of this comes because of the hybrid engine that almost holds you back from having too much fun.

F Sport versions of the UX feature larger, 18-inch alloy wheels and stiffened suspension, with anti-rollbars, featuring mid-point dampers to absorb shocks transmitted through the suspension. Over poor road surfaces you’re immediately aware of the firmer compromise – it’s not uncomfortable, and still rides in a far more relaxed manner than an equivalent S Line Audi or M Sport BMW.

Far better to stick with a 17-inch-wheeled UX and opt for the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) arrangement. Here the combination is satisfyingly compliant and seemingly free from uneasy wallowing in corners or under braking. Again, it reinforces that the UX performs more impressively when driven with measured consideration.