Tested: 2020 Lexus UX 250h EX impresses with its quality, but there are niggles
PRETORIA - It’s a good thing that car horns are more than just ornaments, especially when you need to warn small dogs and kids on bicycles when they don't hear you while driving in a residential complex.
It may be a bit rude to press the horn but that's the only way I could get their attention while driving the Lexus UX 250h EX.
The "h" in 250h stands for hybrid and when you're sticking to the speed limit of 30km/h or under the Lexus UX 250h EX compact crossover uses its electric motor to power itself and is almost impossible to hear.
Once you're in the clear the 2.0 litre petrol engine kicks in, giving it 135kW and 180Nm of torque in conjunction with the two electric motor generators.
And because it's a Lexus, albeit the introductory version to the brand, it comes with a plethora of standard features that most of its rivals provide as optional extras.
It's a long list of impressive features that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, electric and heated seats, LED headlights, dual zone climate control, cruise control, seven-inch infotainment system with integrated navigation and Bluetooth, wireless smartphone charger, front and rear park distance control and a reverse view camera.
Aimed at the successful younger, upwardly mobile crowd (is yuppie still a word?), the looks are appealing too with just enough curves and angles to attract attention and a grille that dominates the front in a way that makes it look a lot more aggressive than it actually is.
At a smidgen over R690 000 the interior reflects typical Lexus quality with top-notch Nulux (simulated leather) and stitching, comfortable seating and driving position and impressive soft touch finishes.
Rear passengers may feel a bit cramped especially if the driver is tall like I am but for toddlers and empty nesters it shouldn't be an issue, although at 272 litres the boot is rather limited.
A touchpad on the centre console controls the infotainment and navigation system and apart from being somewhat user unfriendly, I found it to be incredibly sensitive and distracting to operate, especially while driving.
Driving it though the UX 250h EX has no such issues. Ride quality is impressive with a suspension set-up that's firm enough not to be uncomfortable and handles road imperfections without any fuss.
There's very little body roll around corners even while giving it a bit of stick and cruising at the national speed limit there's virtually no road or wind noise, testimony to its build quality. Steering for a compact crossover is nice and direct with enough feedback to make the drive engaging.
Performance-wise it was never designed to rip the rubber off even in sport mode, changed via a dial next to the instrument cluster. Normal and eco are the alternative options.
It is surprisingly willing though and bounded forward with some enthusiasm and thankfully without any of that horrible droning that often accompanies a CVT transmission.
Fuel consumption over the week that we tested it averaged out at 6.7l/100km but we were still in Level 3 so there wasn't much stop-start traffic driving.
The Lexus UX 250h EX is a very good quality package even though the boot space has its limitations and the infotainment system is a bit frustrating.
If brand conscious South Africans would just look outside Germany and compare what they ultimately pay, including a seven-year/105 000km warranty and maintenance plan, then the Lexus walks away a winner every time.