The Lexus, created in 1989 by Toyota for the American market, initially resembled Mercedes … of the previous generation. An easy, unattractive recipe? Or even. Because, for a lower price, the beautiful Japanese offered straight away a much higher reliability. As a result, customers across the Atlantic rushed, undermining the myth of German superiority. Today, the big "L" in a circle is as famous as the star. With the quasi-permanent triumphs of the Japanese label in J D Power's surveys on consumer satisfaction. Known on all continents, the firm is putting everything today (in Europe) on hybrid technology while forging an aesthetic identity with a style … less and less consensual, consisting of sharp edges, broken lines extroverted. The Lexus no longer look like the Mercedes. The Ux is thus characterized by a compact, slightly puffy SUV bodywork, with bizarre wheel surrounds like on the… Toyota Rav 4 and a pointed muzzle. Beautiful car? It lacks a certain harmony and consistency of forms. We would gladly remove some growths. But it does not go unnoticed. It was the goal. And Lexus makes up for it with a very wide palette of pretty shimmering colors.
An extremely neat finish
The interior is original, but fortunately less caricatural. It is distinguished in particular by a remarkable quality of finish. It's really high-end, to make the Audi, BMW, Mercedes pale with jealousy. Particularly in terms of adjustments, almost perfect. As Lexus offers a wide choice of warm interior atmospheres (gray, amber, red…) outside of traditional black, you immediately feel good in this cocoon, with an excellent driving position. But, if the front passengers are pampered, those behind will travel much less comfortable. The legroom is highly measured. Better to use this Ux in pairs, or with children. And little luggage. The trunk with the high floor appears extremely narrow.
Ergonomics brings together the best and the worst. On the positive side, once the buttons in the rim of the steering wheel on the left have been assimilated, you can adjust all of the driving assistance in the same menu. And Lexus has the good taste, very rare, to respect the driver's choices. Aside from the irritating collision alert that reconnects on its own, the rest will remain "off" if the driver chooses. Thank you. Audi and Mercedes should be inspired. However, everything about the screen menus is missed. This one is not digital, it will be necessary to maneuver using a touchpad on the console of a sensitivity such that it turns out to be totally imprecise. False maneuvers will be inevitable. It's far too complicated in an environment that… moves by force of circumstances. Adjusting a GPS becomes long and maddening. Finding a radio station is just as annoying, because the non-alphabetical list responds to its own logic, the meaning of which has completely escaped us. To revise urgently.
An attractive operating smoothness
Let's be clear: we don't like to drive Toyota hybrids. Of course, getting started in electric is a pleasure and city driving is generally satisfactory. In addition, this technology does not require finding a charging station, unlike rechargeable hybrids. But the transmission system operating like a continuously variable transmission provides an unpleasant feeling of sliding like on a moped, with a marked difference between the pressure on the accelerator and the actual response of the mechanics. It is very destabilizing on the highway and at a brisk pace on the road. It often screams … ineffectively. So we took the wheel while waiting for the worst. Wrongly.
Because driving this Ux, with a 2.0-liter 152-horsepower engine plus a synchronous electric motor (two on the 4×4 version), is ultimately a good surprise. The system has evolved well and the soundproofing has reached such levels that the "CVT" effect is largely inaudible. The main defect of this technology appears here erased. Well done Lexus. Helped by an "S" position that blocks the two, three, first four reports, the mechanics are soft, even smooth, without giving the impression of pain. Despite 1.6 tonnes. Admittedly, it is not a dynamic car. And the Ux will not excel in strong accelerations or in the mountains. However, the liveliness and fluidity of the reactions make it almost unnecessary to resort to the various modes of conduct. Normal mode is sufficient. Admittedly, we quickly perceive the limits of Toyota hybridization. But it is never prohibitive. And you get used to the silence – in town, you often drive electric – and to the extreme sweetness. Never the slightest jerk. Let's say this is the first time that this Japanese hybridization has convinced us! Consumption is also rather contained for a petrol vehicle. An average of 6.3 liters of unleaded was swallowed over 500 kilometers. Figures close to those of a diesel. But on the highway, the hybrid will consume more than the diesel model.
Superb filtration quality
Despite the large 18-inch rims (50R18) on our test version, the Ux also won us over with the excellent filtration of the running gear and their silence. You can't hear the suspension stops or the interior furniture. In short, despite a certain firmness on small inequalities, general comfort becomes the main asset of this Ux. The care taken in design and manufacturing is a great art. This is premium. All of this is suddenly very consistent with the flexibility of the mechanics. Here is a machine of rare homogeneity! The handling is not fun. But the placidity of the reactions of this reassuring device agrees with the character of the car.
The Ux range starts at 36,990 euros (two-wheel drive) or 39,490 (four-wheel drive). We recommend the Luxe version at 41.990 with leather upholstery (two-wheel drive). We inherited a definition called Executive, certainly equipped with lots of gadgets, assistances (which we cut) and a great audio system. But, at 53,990 euros (2WD), it seems far too expensive. It becomes out of budget. Nothing essential justifies the 12,000 euros difference with a Luxe finish.
This Ux, close to the Toyota C-HR and sharing all the mechanics with it and the most powerful version of the new Corolla, is a model apart. You have to accept a striking style, an irritating ergonomics at the level of the touchpad, rear seats that are not very roomy and an almost ridiculous trunk. But this original vehicle, well finished, soft, silent, reassuring, comfortable, is worth a look. As a bonus, we will benefit from the legendary Toyota robustness, with renowned quality of service. Reliability is far superior to that of competing German models. The invoice is very salty, taking into account the services. But we will not regret his choice in the long run.
Price of the model tested : Lexus Ux 250h 2WD Ex: 53,990 euros
Power : 184 hp (petrol hybrid + electric backup)
Dimensions : 4.50 meters (long) x 1.84 (wide) x 1.54 (high)
Qualities : Quality of finish and soundproofing, excellent filtration, smooth operation, reassuring car, respect for driver's choices, legendary reputation for robustness
Defaults : Smashed style, tight trunk and rear seats, missed touchpad, irritating anti-collision system, lack of dynamism, very salty bill
Competitors : Audi Q3 TFSi S Tronic Design Luxe: 44,950 euros; Volvo XC40 T3 Geartronic Luxury Registration: 45,850 euros; Toyota Rav4 2WD First Ed: 46,300 euros
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