This was the first vehicle that I got to test drive as part of my green car search. It was also the first time I had even considered buying such a prestige car, I was about to try the Lexus UX. Contacting my local dealer, Lexus Swindon and speaking to a sales person, I got the impression that the cars sold themselves. There was no hard sell, along with a professional conversation, it already had me interested before I had even picked up the keys.
Lexus Swindon, knew I wanted to do this review and had no problem with me taking a car for the entire weekend. This was one of the best sales techniques, I have ever experienced. Letting me use it, get used to it and not wanting to give it back was genius. Getting to the dealership in the early morning, I was ready to take advantage of this offer and use it as much as I could. Inside the dealership there was a beautiful Lexus UX F-Sport, in a deep metallic blue, with a black leather interior. It looked stunning and I could feel the excitement start to rise.
The sales staff were great, coffee and even a KitKat was delivered as I filled in a few pieces of paperwork. There was no messing about, I was walking out the door with a set of keys in less than twenty minutes. My ride for the weekend, a Lexus UX F-Sport in white, was sat in a sales spot waiting for me to take it away. It was a shame that it was not sparkling clean but it still looked good, even with some bird poo on the passenger headlight.
Opening the drivers door, the sales person asked if I wanted to be shown around. A few short minutes and I was ready to get this thing on the road. The first time that I sat in the drivers seat, I realised what the difference was between a standard and a prestige car. There was no nasty plastic trim, the seat was comfy and every button, dial and switch had been designed around the driver. All were in easy reach and set out in a logical manner.
I was told that no matter the spec of car ordered, they all had the same engine, a 2.0 litre petrol engine with lithium batteries, charged from the engine. No plug in required. An automatic gearbox provided the drive which was smooth and managed the parallel hybrid function of the car. The car would run on its battery most of the time, until it drained or the driver needed a bit more power from it.
Closing the door, I took in all that the car had to offer. The fully electric, soft leather seat held my back in a perfect position. The electric control steering column moved and adjusted at a touch of a switch. The large display screen angled toward the driver and the large, wide centre console was at the perfect height, its position set, to be used but not to get in the way. Before I did anything else I sat and listened to the complete silence of the interior of the car. Sat there I felt a wave of calm and refinement, I knew the weekend was going to be an amazing experience.
Driving the UX
Starting the car was odd. Pushing the ‘start’ button the dashboard lit up but nothing else happened. It was a little disconcerting, but the green ‘ready’ light was on. Sliding the gear selector into drive, I released the brake and the car started to roll forward, silently. The Lexus UX is marketed as a family SUV, so the drivers position is a little higher than normal but the height of the car did not seem any different to any other car. From my view behind the wheel, I had a clear view of the road. There was a small blind spot behind the A-pillar but it did not make a huge difference to the view. I was worried about the view from rear view mirror because of the sloping back window but I did not need to worry, the view was great. The steering was smooth and the car just glided out of the dealership.
First stop was to get home and pick up the family. This car was going to get tested properly, not a silly thirty minute drive down a busy road and back. We grabbed our stuff and got straight out of the house so that we could admire the car. I had booked tickets for a drive and dine theatre in Bath, thinking this would be a perfect test for a family outing. Leaving Swindon, everything was tested. How the seats felt, how much room was available, the workings of the radio and climate control. The 15 year old in the back, found her own vents and arranged her own comfortable climate. All of us said that it ticked all our boxes and more.
Getting on to the motorway was when I found a flaw in the comfortable driving experience. As we were chatting, the radio had been switched off. Getting up to speed and setting the cruise control, I sat back and let the car do the driving. Instead of being in a peaceful, relaxing, silent environment, I heard a lot of road noise. It was a shame, I expected it to be better insulated. Having driven a few miles and feeling how the car handled on a long journey, the road noise became just a background noise and I forgot about it. Instead I started to play with the radio controls.
The control panel for the info-tainment screen, is from a large touch pad in the centre console and needs some concentration to work it. There is also a control panel just in front of the arm rest of the console which is controlled with the left hand, a much easier way to sort the radio. The amount of functions and things to do with these control panels is endless. I also found a button on the steering wheel that allowed me to control the cars driving experience. The most amazing thing happened, when I pushed the button the speedo bezel moved to the right and a LCD screen lit up, with load of functions. This brought more joy than I expected, it was a really nice, high level touch.
Driving the car was easy. The 2.0 litre petrol engine was not racy and the speed was gentle, even when I pushed my foot to the floor. The battery power was enough to provide the drive and only when I pushed it did the engine cut in to provide the extra horses needed. Cruise control with the radar control on meant that all I had to do was keep the car in its lane. It never got too close to the car in front, all the time adjusting the speed and making it a very smooth and an enjoyable ride. At some point down the motorway I discovered the twist knob on the side of the speedo unit, which I renamed as the fun button.
Giving it a twist and the lazy eco mode was replaced with the Sport mode. The dash display changed and the engine note suddenly got louder. Twisting it one more time and the S-Sport option came up, another change of engine note and the dash changed again. Suddenly I was behind the wheel of a responsive, quick Lexus UX. Putting my foot down and the engine roared, kicking down through the gears the engine responded instantly. The speed was phenomenal, from a gentle, caring, fuel economic drive to a gas guzzling speed machine.
Even after a minute of trying out the throttle response the fun was still there but the feel of the relaxing cockpit took away the inner speed demon and I was back in the eco mode, returning to just trundling down the motorway. It was fun to use and the knowledge that the car could do something like this when needed, was impressive. Pulling into the services, a coffee was needed. I needed to try out the coffee cup holders. I can report that the front cup holder are perfectly placed and easy to access by the driver. In the back the centre arm rest provides two cup holders and the rear passenger reported it was ‘fine’ (which means great, in 15 year old speech.)
Getting to Bath was an enjoyable drive. Taking the steep hills in its stride, the Lexus UX gave a comfortable ride. Driving into the racecourse, I followed the signs to the Drive and dine. It was being held on a field at the back of the grounds and the shock was that it was being sponsored by Lexus! Without knowing it, I had a chance to try out an easy off road circuit, the car had great clearance and managed it with ease. Being sat in a warm car watching a whole movie seemed daunting, but the Lexus UX seats were great. It gave support and comfort for the entire film and it was still comfortable on the ride home.
The journey back was no different than the one there. All the gizmo’s and gadgets were tested again and the three of us said we liked the car. Parking it outside the house, I went in doors but the key sat on the table reminding me of what was parked outside. The following morning I was up early and wanting to do more tests. This car would need to be used everyday, so it was a drive into town and parking it in a busy car park.
Driving into the Brunel car park, even through the tight twists and bends of the barriers, the Lexus was easy to maneuver. Then I found my second issue with the car. Being up higher, I could not see the parking lines. This would be something I could learn the position of, but it took me a few minutes to make sure I was inside the lines. Getting out the car, I could see how big the Lexus UX really was. It filled the box, it was a good job it was Sunday morning and the car park was empty.
Getting it back out was easy, the reversing camera with the driving lines got me out without any need for panic. Next was the outlet village to do it all again, this time the car parking space was easier to get into but I still had to check. Going around the shops all I could think of was getting back to the car, there was something about it that made me want to be in it. I actually missed it.
Lexus UX Boot Space
I needed to do one more test, I had read that the boot space was small and not much use, only being able to get a carry on piece of luggage in there. After looking at the space I did not believe the report. Grabbing a medium sized suitcase, I needed to know if I could get it in the boot. It fitted snugly, even with four wheel on the bottom the boot closed with no problem. The smart design of the boot meant that there was no lip, the suitcase slid in easy and came out like a dream. There was no lifting and struggling it was a simple and neat idea.
There was also another level of storage under the boot floor, more than enough for bags and rucksacks. To do the video, I wanted to show this at a better location than a road in Swindon. I know I did not need an excuse, but another drive out, this time to Cotswold water parks.
Another chance to try a fast road and the fun button. I had to remind myself how quick this Lexus UX could actually go. After a quick trip down the A419, I felt like I belonged in the Cotswolds. Behind the wheel, everyone looked at the car and I could see they were trying to work out what it was. Doing the filming at the front of the pub car park, people were swarming around in the background trying to take a look at the car. It really did turn heads.
Looking at the car I realised there were more neat design tricks than first appeared. Being a slightly higher driving position it was really easy to get in and out of. I saw that the door shuts ran the length of the lower sills. This meant not having to spread your legs so wide to get out and the added bonus of not getting dirt on the back of your legs every time you got out.
I had one final drive back home, although short it was all about the car and how impressed we were with it. The comfort, the fuel economy, the refinement and how it looked. We agreed that it should not be in white, the colour does not do it any justice. Parking it up, I wanted to take it out again but I had some work to do.
The following morning I took the car back. I really did not want to hand the keys back, this really was impressive car. It ticked all three boxes that I wanted it to, as part of my green car search. Speaking to the sale person, he was kind and wanted to know how I got on. I expected a sales pitch but there was nothing. I could see that he knew that the car had sold itself and did not need him to say anything. It was a different sales experience, I had to ask about the prices and he was more than happy to give them over as we talked about the purchase of the car. More dealerships could take a leaf out of Lexus Swindon’s book, their approach to selling cars was awesome.
Leaving the car there, I thought long and hard about the experience. From the sales experience, to the quality and refinement of the car, how it fitted with all my requirements. I was worried that the other nine considered manufactures were not going to stack up against it but time will tell.
I have no doubt that this car is a serious contender for the top spot on my list. If anyone were to ask me if it is worth the money, my reply would be ‘yes’ every time. If you are lucky enough to live close to Swindon, pop in the Lexus Swindon tell them the Caveman sent you and ask to see one of these amazing cars.
Caveman family, on an Extended test drive