DRIVEN: Woman’s touch completes new Lexus UX

Chief designer Chika Kako’s signature sets this SUV apart from others.

In a world where political correctness is the order of the day, one term has seemingly survived any form of gender discrimination.

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“A woman’s touch” is described by one website as “the particular style or signature of a woman”.

And the very reason this saying has stood the test of time is probably because it’s right. A woman simply does things differently from a man, whether the latter likes to hear that or not.

It’s this very fact that sets the Lexus UX apart from its contemporaries.

Executive vice-president of Lexus International, Chika Kako, made history by becoming the first woman to oversee a Lexus model as chief designer and the finished product is even more remarkable than her groundbreaking feat.

Although the UX is technically a crossover, with the name derived from a combination of “Urban” and “X-over” it will fill the size gap at the bottom of the brand’s SUV tree consisting of the full size LX, the large RX and the medium NX.

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With the existing number of cars in the premium small SUV market in South Africa measured at 11 in 2018, the UX’s key competitors are the BMW X1, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Jaguar’s E-Pace and the Audi Q3.

The UX is available in two front-wheel drive versions, the 200 and 250h hybrid.

The UX 200 introduces a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine coupled with a new Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (D CVT) delivering 126kW of power and 205Nm of torque, while the UX 250h pairs a 2.0 litre petrol engine with a new fourth-generation hybrid drive system to deliver a total output of 135kW.

The model range also includes an F Sport model in 200 guise which offers sportier trim and Adaptive Variable Suspension, albeit no increase in power from the base model.

The UX finds itself in a pretty stiff market and besides boasting the expected bunch of goodies to tackle the challenge head-on, Kako’s subtle touches go a long way in giving the Japanese’s luxury brand’s latest sibling its own unique presence that could sway the millennial target market away from more traditional brands.

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Starting with the spindle grille which features a new block-shape mesh pattern with individual elements that gradually change in shape as they radiate out from the central Lexus emblem.

The grille creates an intriguing three-dimensional appearance that changes with the viewing angle.

Staying on the outside, the doors have been designed to cover entire door openings, complete with rubber strips sealing them underneath to eliminate the possibility of smearing dirt on your clothes while climbing in.

On the inside there are leather seats available which have been inspired by a traditional Japanese stitching technique used to apply protective quilting to martial arts uniforms.

This distinctive visual effect is achieved though stitching along mathematical curves along with the perforation pattern and seat ventilation outlets.

Added little touches include a power window system equipped with jam and entanglement function, and wipers that stop automatically when doors are opened to prevent entering and exiting passengers from getting splashed.

Now that’s impressive and a clear indication that more cars could do with a woman’s touch.

Pricing 

  • EX 200 R599 000
  • Hybrid 250h SE R699 000
  • 200 F Sport R726 200

The entire UX range boasts a seven-year/ 105 000km warranty and full maintenance plan. The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.

Likes 

  • Lots of little things that contribute to a complete package.
  • Unmistakable Lexus premium finishing.

Dislikes 

  • Lack of legroom in the rear and limited boot space.
  • They can put any letter in front of the CVT gearbox, it’s still a CVT.

Verdict 

A bold statement that offers it’s mainly German rivals a very funky and modern alternative.

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