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Driven: Lexus UX to draw new buyers to brand

New UX small SUV expected to be Lexus Australia’s second best-selling model

25 Jan 2019

LEXUS Australia’s box-fresh UX small SUV is expected to add about 2500 incremental sales to the luxury brand’s bottom line this year, and will also serve as a prominent conquest model.

However, Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson told GoAuto that the UX will likely only place as the brand’s second best-selling model, despite the popularity of the premium crossover segment.

“(The UX is) probably not going to be our number-one seller,” he said. “We still believe NX will be the number-one seller for us – at least for the foreseeable future, based on market trends and consumer interest – but it’s going to be a valuable addition.

“(With) the addition of UX, we’ve got a full-compliment luxury SUV range now spread across the entire market.”

Last year, Lexus shifted 3697 units of the NX mid-size crossover (up 9.1% compared to 2017), which means the expected circa-2500 sales of the UX will place it comfortably in front of the RX large SUV (2051, +10.4%) and IS mid-size sedan (1089, -28.5%).

Choice will be key to the UX’s appeal, which Mr Thompson expects will draw in new buyers to the Lexus brand, as well as more women.

“We brought in every single variant we can from Japan – whether that be engine variant, colour and trim option – and UX, we believe, is probably going to bring in a higher female skew, definitely a younger demographic,” he said.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be a gateway into the Lexus brand. We’re looking at 75 per cent who are going to buy a UX to be new to the Lexus brand, which is a great opportunity for us.”

As Lexus’ first entrant into the booming $40,000-plus small-SUV segment, the UX will square up against the likes of the market-leading Mercedes-Benz GLA (3906, +17.6%), BMW X1 (3096, -15.4%) and Audi Q3 (2497, -12.2%) and Q2 (1865, -6.7%).

If Mr Thompson’s sales expectations are correct, the UX could place third in a segment that grew 28.1 per cent last year, to 16,457 sales, representing 1.42 per cent of the overall 1,153,111-strong new-vehicle market in 2018.

As reported, the UX will kick off from $44,450 plus on-road costs for the base UX200 front-wheel-drive Luxury grade that is propelled by a 126kW/205Nm naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

Comparatively, the UX undercuts petrol-powered rivals including the $49,400 Audi Q2 40 TFSI quattro, $53,400 Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro, $50,900 BMW X1 sDrive 20i, $44,900 Infiniti QX30 Pure, $50,150 Jaguar E-Pace Standard, $61,800 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic, $48,900 Mini Countryman Cooper S and $44,990 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum.

Opting for the Sport Luxury grade raises UX200 pricing to $53,000, while the top-spec 2.0-litre F Sport commands a $53,450 asking price.

Paired to a direct-shift continuously-variable transmission (D-CVT) with a traditional first gear – first seen on Toyota’s new 12th-generation Corolla small car – all Lexus UX200s have their fuel economy rated at 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test and emit 132 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Maximum towing capacity is also rated at 750kg.

Buyers also have a choice of a petrol-hybrid powertrain – the only electrified model in the $40,000-plus small-SUV segment – with the front-drive UX250h, available in Luxury, Sports Luxury and F Sport trim for $47,950, $56,000 and $56,950 respectively.

Teaming a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with two electric motors, the hybrid UX produces a combined system outputs of 131kW and 202Nm.

Mated to a CVT, the electrified UX sips just 4.5L/100km and emits 103g/km of CO2.

All-wheel-drive versions of the UX250h Sports Luxury and F Sport are also on offer, at $61,000 and $61,450 respectively, which add 55kg to the kerb weight and raise fuel consumption to 4.7L/100km and CO2 emissions to 107g/km.

Standard equipment across the range includes 17-inch alloy wheels shod in 215/60 Bridgestone rubber, roof rails, full LED lighting, heated and power exterior mirrors, Eco, Normal and Sport drive-mode selector; and an acoustic windscreen.

Inside, the Luxury grade is fitted with a leather-accented steering wheel and shift lever, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable and heated front pews, keyless entry and start, a 7.0-inch driver display and Lexus’ 10.3-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, an eight-speaker sound system, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a haptic feedback touchpad.

Safety systems include adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning, blind-spot monitor, a reversing camera, rear cross-traffic alert and eight airbags.

Stepping up to the Sports Luxury trim adds 18-inch wheels with 225/50 Dunlop run-flat tyres, acoustic front side glass, leather-accented pews, ventilated front seats, a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, sequential front indicators and a surround-view monitor.

Finally, the top-tier F Sport gains adaptive suspension, an additional two drive modes (Sport+ and Custom), active sound control, a sports bodykit, paddle-shifters, and 8.0-inch driver display.


2019 Lexus UX pricing*

UX200 FWD Luxury (a) $44,450
UX200 FWD Sports Luxury (a) $53,000
UX200 FWD F Sport (a) $53,450
UX250h FWD Luxury (a) $47,950
UX250h FWD Sports Luxury (a) $56,500
UX250h FWD F Sport (a) $56,950
UX250h AWD Sports Luxury (a) $61,000
UX250h AWD F Sport (a) $61,450

*Excludes on-road costs

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