Lexus UX F-Sport: cozy and comfortable cruiser
Photos by Botchi Santos
Celebrity endorser, talk show host and media personality Bobby Yan who is quite the lady’s man himself once taught me that his most important criteria in choosing a car is it’s “striking distance”.
What sort of attribute is that? In Bobby’s words, it is the ease of putting your arm around your front passenger, or hugging them with you in the driver’s seat. In that sense, the Lexus UX200 F-Sport is perfect, delivering very good striking distance thanks to its intimate cabin. But it’s got a raft of talents and skills that make it a perfect partner on our roads.
The UX, which shares its Toyota TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) GA-C platform with the Toyota CH-R, is a bit of a cross (pun intended) between a small crossover SUV and a hatchback on stilts: entry and exit is easy as you sit higher than usual, with noticeably better visibility all-around, making urban explorations easier, building one’s confidence. There’s a bit more ride height as well, giving you a little bit of extra assurance should you need to cross bad roads, flash floods or to crawl up the curb. Crucially it’s small, making driving through traffic a breeze, allowing you to get to your loved ones faster, or getting to that special V-Day destination sooner. And yes, it’s small size fits in even the smallest and narrowest of streets leading to even smaller car parks. A 5.2 meter turning radius means you can easily escape to somewhere else when things get hot and heavy.
Inside, you sit very intimately: leather and high-quality materials surround you, putting you in the mood for some quality time, be it behind the wheel, enjoying the drive, or enjoying the moment with your special someone. Much of the interior trim is inspired by the texture of washi or Japanese paper, and the interior theme features the Japanese design philosophy of Engawa, blurring the boundary of interior and exterior: the main character lines and design cues flow seamlessly in and out of the UX. The result? Though intimate and cozy, the UX doesn’t feel cramped or invasive, like it’s already intruding into your own personal space. You feel safe and protected, but at the same given, feel like you have freedom to explore and enjoy the outside world on your own.
The F-Sport variant comes with Lexus’ AVS Adaptive Variable Suspension that delivers a sharper, more engaging driving experience that allows you to feel connected to the experience, but without greatly affecting the legendary ride comfort Lexus is known for. You arrive a bit stirred, excited and aroused after a drive.
Power comes from a new-generation 2.0 liter 4-cylinder 16-valve engine codenamed M20A-FKS with dual injection (direct and port) and a 13:1 compression ratio which Toyota claims achieves as much as a 40 percent thermal efficiency (the ability to convert fuel and air into energy without turning to heat or exhaust emissions), higher than previous generation engines which have a thermal efficiency of between 25 percent-35 percent. Your loved one will appreciate it as you pollute the air far less, consume far less fuel and ultimately go further, exploring more new things before needing to fill-up. Power comes in at 168hp and 200 Nm of torque.
Both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive is available globally, but locally, we have only get the front-wheel drive variant which makes sense as AWD will only make this cute little ’ute heavier and thus, thirstier, defeating the advancements of the new engine’s efficiency. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a continuously-variable transmission (CVT): the UX doesn’t feel super-fast, but you can’t objectively say it’s slow as well. It feels just spot-on, perfect, as the CVT simulates the ideal gear for the given situation. On hard acceleration, there is that muted industrial groaning sound, but then again, nobody buys a UX and expects it to be a pocket-rocket with an operatic soundtrack from the engine anyway. Leave that to the multi-media infotainment system.
If in case you do get carried away inside the UX 200 F-Sport, it has your back: six airbags, ABS-EBD brakes, and traction / stability control are standard. You can also park by the road-side, adjust the 8-way electronically assisted front seats and enjoy a quiet moment, or admire the sunset together while playing some cool tunes form the Lexus 8-Speaker Premium Audio Surround Sound System. Shame though, that there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to make the experience, and overall ambiance, instantly and seamlessly relaxing.
On the highway, the UX drives confidently, with purpose. But it’s also playful on winding roads: the short wheelbase and overall footprint means direction changes are easy. If you suddenly need to make a turn left or right somewhere, few cross-overs are as eager and agile as the UX, showing its hatchback on stilts spunk. Fuel efficiency was a decent 12km/liter on the highway and roughly 7.2km/liter in the city, but holiday traffic was building up already so it could have been better for both figures on less busy times of the year.
The UX F-Sport is the perfect companion for those intimate, spontaneous trips, be it short or long drives. Great features, a cozy yet stylish cabin, driving dynamics that make it enjoyable when you’re in the mood, and easy to live with in traffic at the same time, plus that solid Lexus engineering gives you great pride being behind the wheel of such a capable, versatile and stylish vehicle. The same qualities we look for in a life-partner. Just make sure you’re always within striking distance.
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