Trust me, you are going to see the words crossover, compact SUV, midsize SUV and large SUV over and over this year, as this is the one segment that is showing some growth in a very tough new car market.
Honestly, though, does a crossover really make more sense than a conventional sedan?
A sedan has more passenger space, more boot space will be used in 90% of the same places and most of the time you can get more car for crossover money. So, to be blunt, the short answer is no.
But this is a world where cool over practicality is valued more. Crossovers are the iPhones of the car world right now. If you want to be cool, you gotta have one. In the premium segment, where the Lexus UX 250h I drove this week finds itself, you can choose from an Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Jaguar E-Pace to name just a few.
So how does the UX 250h SE stack up? From a styling point of view, Lexus are right up there in terms of that much-desired funkiness with the UX. Inside, the sneaky morphing of a traditional hatch or coupe into a must-have cool crossover continues with an interior that exudes top-class quality in a car like package but with a higher seating position.
Obviously, being a premium offering at R699 000 means the materials and workmanship are pure Lexus, combining Japanese traditions in craftsmanship and hospitality with innovative production techniques. Space, as expected in a compact anything, is – well – compact, and as a result, your UX is not going to be your family holiday car.
This car for me is very much a single person or young couple’s urban form of transport. Staying with the urban theme, this 2019 UX 250h SE with a new-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain delivers a total system output of 135kW. What this means is that you get a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine coupled with two electric motor-generators powering the crossover.
Optimising the level of electric motor assistance and engine rpm produces a linear acceleration feel without the engine having to run at high revs. And this worked perfectly for me in and around town, and when I was chilled out and not in any hurry. Despite a claimed 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 8.5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 177 km/h, when you want to throw the UX around a little and exploit the power on hand, the annoyance of the CVT gearbox makes itself known.
And then the din of the rpm being in the higher reaches but not really converting to rapid forward momentum lets the UX down a little. But being a hybrid means that the fuel consumption is a plus point and came in at 6.6-litres per 100km on average for the week I had the UX. Not quite as low as the 4.5-litres claimed, but real-world driving is way different to computer simulation. The Lexus UX range boasts a Lexus best-in-class seven-year/105 000km warranty and full maintenance plan.