LEXUS LBX: new baby has premium appeal

THINK of Diversity and you’re more likely to think of a dance troup than a major car manufacturer deviating away from what they know best.

But that’s just what Lexus have done with their latest offering.  Acknowledged as a maker of safe and luxurious SUVs and saloons,  the new LBX is anything but. It’s as small as Toyota’s Yaris Cross, has about as much rear space for passengers as the aforementioned,  and comes with a hefty price tag for such a small car.

But what it does offer is a healthy smattering of luxury in a sector that has rivals that bear none of the features the LBX majors on, and are about as appealing as a fridge freezer with windscreen wipers.Billed as a premium small SUV, LBX stands for Lexus Breakthrough Crossover and while its pricetag put it up against small EVs, the LBX is a petrol electric hybrid. There’s appeal there for those still not convinced to go fully electric, as the hybrid combination offers decent economy and none of the range anxiety that still exists among some sections of the motoring public.

It has 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and battery, tuned to make 134bhp. Like the Yaris Cross, the LBX is available with front or four wheel drive, the latter a bit of a rarity in the small SUV class.It’s been built to be a wee bit bigger than the Yaris Cross, but it’s still snug inside.They make up for it with the plusher than you’d expect fit and finish and the use of premium materials.

Every version comes equipped with a 9.8 inch touchscreen featuring navigation, voice control, and over-the-air updates, and you can use your own apps with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Opt for a more expensive spec and you’ll get a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster and heads-up display.

The central screen can also swiftly pick up favourite functions as it memorizes the ones accessed most often – a press of an on-screen button accesses them. Handy if you want to deactivate the car’s roadsign recognition software, which beeps every time a roadsign is detected and alerts you when you’ve gone over the last detected speed limit – even by 1mph. To be fair it’s just a subtle beep and easy to get used to.

LBX also has the E-Latch doors first fitted to the NX. These need a squeeze of the exterior handle to open but opening them from the inside requires a certain skill – you push the door and thumb the release at the same time to open it.

On the road, the LBX is comfortable and you don’t get suspension crashing about like a drawer full of cutlery.

The hybrid system is well subdued, with enough sound deadening on board to make the three-cylinder petrol engine almost undetectable when it does fire up. You’ll get a distant thrum when accelerating, but really there’s no obvious engine noise when you’re cruising along.

Prices range from £29,985 to £40,545.


Lexus LBX Takumi Design

Price: £39,245 (£39,915 as tested)
Engine: 1.5 litre, three cylinder, hybrid
Power: 134bhp
Torque: 136lb/ft
Transmission: e-CVT
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Economy: 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 104g/km

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