Excellent drivability, more uniqueness, and possible cost-savings could help the Lexus UX 250h hybrid’s case in Singapore
Photos: Lexus, Derryn Wong
Important questions first: If the Lexus UX, as a less expensive and fashionably-styled crossover, has the potential to be the best-selling Lexus, where does that leave the inevitable hybrid model?
Before we answer that, let’s settle the question of whether you’d want one or not.
Our test drive of the UX 250h was over a very short, mostly urban test route with speeds not exceeding 80km/h, so for high-speed work and highway runs we predict it will behave much like the petrol-powered UX 200.
That is to say, there’s a little tyre roar, more than on a Lexus sedan for sure, but it’s still at a very acceptable level for small, luxury crossovers, which are honestly quite unrefined as a whole.
Unlike the other small Lexus, the UX 250h has a hybrid system that uses the same 2.0-litre engine as the UX 200, though with tuning and performance customised for hybrid operation.
In contrast to that application, where it switches between regular Otto cycle and Atkinson cycle operation, the hybrid version uses only the latter for better efficiency, and it’s mated to a conventional CVT rather than the new Direct Shift CVT.
The idea here is that the electric motors take up the ‘slack’, and that’s very much true, since the hybrid rockets forward with an immediate authority not present on the petrol model – there’s more power on the hybrid, the instant electric motor torque makes a big difference, as it’s 0.7 second quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this is an all-new, fourth-gen hybrid system for Lexus, and it’s utterly smooth in juggling between power sources, as a driver you can simply select D and let it do all the work.
Around central Stockholm, the UX hybrid is right in its element. Though with the polite Swedes there’s none of the cut-and-thrust of central Rome, the raised seating position and insta-electro torque came in very handy for city slicking.
The lovely cabin, with its typical Lexus quality, soft leather upholstery, high tech instruments, insulates you from the bustle outside.
While it’s not the most refined Lexus around, as a luxury crossover the good ride quality is a huge boon in the city, such as when crossing cobblestone streets and tram lines.
That bodes well for a smooth translation to the horrible tarmac of the Lion City, which leaves us with the Big Question we started with: How will the UX hybrid do here?
Whereas the charms of the NX crossover were mitigated by a high price (basically most people who would have bought one got an RX for a little more), the UX might actually have an advantage in this climate.
The Toyota Prius+ has the same fuel economy as the NX 250h, so on paper, at the very least a rebate for the UX 250h is on the cards.
While VES rebates are doled out based on multi-band of pollutants (namely, CO2, CO, hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and oxides of nitrogen) and each car is different, as a fourth-gen Lexus hybrid we’d be surprised if the UX 250h fares otherwise at its debut in January 2019.
With concerns about Japanese hybrid reliability long settled (there are 4,000 hybrid taxis running on the roads here, and most of them are Toyota Priuses) that removes another perceived barrier to adoption for the UX 250h.
As recent history has shown, if the price is right, the resistance to hybrid ownership magically falls away. After all, if you can pollute less, go further, pay less for petrol, at a reasonable sticker price, there’s basically no reason not to go hybrid.
Lexus UX 250h
|Engine||1,798cc, inline 4|
|Power||143hp at 6000rpm|
|Electric Motor||2 Motor-generator|
|System Torque||Not Stated|
|Fuel Efficiency||4.5 L/100km (est.)|
|VES Band / CO2||TBC / 100g/km (est.)|