Higher View, December 2018 (PDF)

The Japanese giant has thrown its hat in the crossover ring and is ticking off boxes as it goes, writes Noelle Faulkner

If you’ve started to notice the shrinking size of SUVs on the road, you’re not imagining things. Well, sort of. In the past few years, almost every manufacturer has released their version of a crossover – a small-sized SUV aimed at grabbing both those who want out of their large people-movers (mostly because the little people they previously had to move are all grown up) and those graduating from a hot hatch into something a bit bigger and adaptable.

Since then – and particularly in the last 12 months – the category has exploded to become the fourth most popular type of vehicle in Australia. Making up 11.9 per cent of the market share, crossover SUVs have become a valuable category for makers. So it makes sense, then, that Lexus, with its sharp and sportier new design language in tow, would come charging into the arena.

Having only just made its sales floor debut, the UX or “Urban Crossover” might just be the best-looking baby SUV on the market. Think sharp angles, sumptuous details and that whale shark-like spindle grille at the front, cues that follow the design language set by the LC and the LS that says Lexus is not the drowsy maker it was once thought to be.

In addition to its low-lying and strikingly sporty stance, the UX boasts an abundance of glass, giving the illusion of space, meticulous placement of switches and dials offering effortless ease-of-use and innovative application of fabrics and craftsmanship, which includes a chic trim inspired by Japanese washi paper. And despite the fact Lexus is yet to offer common options like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of its infotainment system (which is fiddly but not terrible), themall details still make it stand out from competitors like the BMW X2 and Audi Q3.

The UX is available in Australia as both a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol engine with 126kW under its lid and a hybrid with an output of 131kW that, of course, uses the Japanese maker’s lauded hybrid technology (also the only choice if you want all-wheel drive).
If you’re on the lookout for something luxurious, nimble, efficient and dynamic, the UX ticks boxes other don’t. It’s superbly balanced and swiftly responsive, with an impressive and intelligent safety package as standard and a surprising sense of performance-meets-timeless-style on a level that leaves many other manufacturers in the dust. In a market that’s flooding fast, Lexus has certainly made an entrance. And while no one really expected it, we’re glad it did.