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‘Forest’, the Lexus UX250h F Sport has been with us for a couple of months now, so there’s been plenty of time to test out its gadgets and gizmos.
Being the F Sport, our UX is pretty much loaded to the hilt with technology and convenience features, including stuff that until recently was reserved for high-end luxury models.
Just a refresher of what’s included – heated and ventilated front seats, an excellent 8.0-inch driver’s multifunction display with G-force monitor, 10.3-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, DAB+ radio, eight-speaker audio with subwoofer, wireless smartphone charging, adaptive high beam, an electric tailgate, bi-beam LED headlights with washers, and cornering lights.
For more, you'll find heated side mirrors with memory, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 10-way electric driver’s seat adjustment with memory, eight-way electric passenger’s seat adjustment, power adjustment for the steering column, a GPS analogue clock, and keyless entry with push-button start.
There’s also ‘Lexus Safety Sense +’ which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, all-speed adaptive cruise control with stop&go, lane tracing assist, and speed sign recognition, with other driver assistance features including front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a rear-view camera, along with tyre pressure monitoring.
You certainly get a lot of kit for your near-$60,000 spend, but there’s some omissions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are notably absent in a vehicle that is largely pitched at affluent young buyers, though this will be rectified before the end of 2019.
Also missing from the standard specification is a head-up display and surround camera system – however, you can rectify this by opting for Enhancement Pack 2 ($5600), which adds these features plus a 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system and Smart Key Card.
Let’s talk about how everything works, since having it listed on spec sheet doesn’t always mean a feature is worth having.
The UX certainly feels like a premium car from the moment you hop into the driver’s seat. You press the start button and the steering wheel and driver’s seat move automatically to your last set position, it’s almost like a personal butler.
Everything is also within reach, too. The driver-oriented dashboard has a fairly minimalistic approach to physical switchgear, with line of controls dedicated to the HVAC, all of which are beautifully damped.
The Qi standard wireless phone charger works reliably, and it accommodates larger phones like an iPhone XS Max.
We've also come to appreciate the fantastic ventilated seats, which offer three levels of heating and cooling while also having an ‘Auto’ setting that pretty much aligns with the climate control. Very lux.
All the necessary controls for the assistance systems are right there on the steering wheel, too.
In most situations you can pretty much leave the UX to its own devices and it basically drives itself, and it’s rarely caught off guard if the vehicle in front slows down or someone merges into the lane in front of you.
However, there is the odd instance where it won’t recognise a vehicle that has slowed down far ahead, occasionally setting off the forward collision warning prompting you to brake yourself.
We’ve also found the lane-keep assist to at times be a little too eager to make steering corrections to stay in the centre of the lane, which can feel unnatural and likely too much for many people. I use it sporadically.
The ‘three-eye’ LED headlights work very well in all situations, even on very poorly lit back roads. We’ve found the matrix-like adaptive high-beam system to be quite useful, though at times it can be a bit too eager to turn on – so I tend to disable it in town as a precautionary measure to avoid dazzling any oncoming traffic.
Forest’s blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are some of the best I’ve used too, there’s no constant beeping or inaccurate sensors, and it comes quite in handy during my morning and evening commutes in heavy traffic.
Ahead of the driver is an 8.0-inch LCD information display, which is configurable and being an F Sport model has a physical ring that can be moved to change the layout. It’s pretty swish.
Depending on your preference, you can show trip computer values, navigation prompts, music, assistance systems, tyre pressures, and more. There’s no proper map function like you might find on other models, though.
The ring dial also changes its look depending on the drive mode chosen.
Normal mode can either have a hybrid power meter or a conventional tacho, while Sport and Sport+ profiles switch to a white dial that is reminiscent of the Lexus LFA supercar – though we’re not sure if it’s entirely appropriate on a 131kW hybrid crossover.
Now, something that isn’t so positive – the infotainment system. We’ve knocked Lexus’ Enform interface for a while along with its fiddly joystick and touchpad controllers, and the UX does soldier on with this system.
The software at least looks nice, and certainly distances itself in a lot of ways from Toyota systems, though the mapping is straight out of a Corolla, and you still get restricted from certain functions while the vehicle is in motion, which is just annoying.
It also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a glaring omission given Lexus wants the UX to bring a younger demographic into the showroom – that will be rectified later this year though with a retrofit upgrade for existing owners, and standard fitment for new buyers.
We’re still not too fond the of the trackpad controller fitted to the UX either, though it’s certainly better than the joystick operation of previous models.
Even without the integration of Siri or Google Assistant, however, the inbuilt voice recognition system is surprisingly accurate and snappy to respond, a nice contrast to some of the other frustrating proprietary systems I’ve sampled in the past.
All up, the Lexus UX offers a very comprehensive technology suite, which will be only bolstered further later in the year when Apple CarPlay and Android Auto become available to our market. Very impressed.
2019 Lexus UX250h F Sport
- Odometer: 7256km
- Distance travelled since last update: 1156km
- Fuel consumption (indicated): 5.6L/100km