This original article was first published here: Lexus LBX Crossover Hybrid – The Launch Of The SUV
I was graciously invited by Lexus, to Valencia, Spain, the birthplace of Paella, for the European and UK launch, and to test drive the smallest Lexus’ yet, the all-new LBX, Hybrid Crossover. For those readers wondering what the abbreviation or initialism LBX stands for, it’s Lexus Breakthrough Crossover.
Valencia and Alicante, are regions in Spain, recognised worldwide for their century-long tradition of cultivation of citrus, Cítricos Valencianos, namely oranges, mandarins and lemons, with a few Persimmons thrown in for good measure. These regions are responsible for growing more than half of the total Spanish orange production.
My apologies, I digress slightly. Getting back to the point of this article, the review of the all-new Lexus LBX Crossover, Hybrid, SUV. This breakthrough Crossover was built to challenge the luxury hierarchy and enter new market territory. It is designed to appeal to the younger city-smart Europeans who favour luxury and craftmanship, with premium quality, yet maintaining a casual contemporary look and feel, offering a simple and cultural lifestyle, without compromising quality and attention to detail.
The European and UK market entry model, the Urban, is expected to be priced on the road at £29,995.00, rising through several increments to £40,545.00 for the Takumi Design, with (AWD), Wheel Drive. Build-to-order options are also available. Contact your nearest Lexus Centre for further details, or visit lexus.co.uk, and build your own, with the online configuration tool.
The LBX has a brand-new Lexus self-charging Hybrid powertrain, featuring a 1.5-litre VVT-iE, 3-cylinder engine, and a bipolar nickel-metal, high-power battery, delivering 136hp. It has a maximum speed of 105 Mph, and an acceleration capability of 0 to 62 Mph in 9.2 seconds. Co2 emissions are 168 -174g/mile, and a combined fuel consumption between 60.1 to 65.7mpg. This engine has world-class thermal efficiency, supported by high-speed combustion, achieved with technologies evolved from Formula 1 engineering.
Exterior Design and Styling
I was allocated my vehicle, for the day’s driving experience, in the foyer of the “Only YOU Hotel”, Valencia. The model allocated was the “Takumi Design”, in Sonic Copper and Black, with the “COOL” internal atmosphere. There are several model choices available, including an AWD, (All Wheel Drive) option. There are also four further internal atmospheres to choose from, in addition to the standard LBX, these are the ELEGANT, RELAX, EMOTION and COOL, offering varying levels of sophistication or dynamism depending on your preference and personality.
It was a short walk to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the vehicles were lined up and waiting. As I approached the line-up, the first thing I noticed was the LBX compact crossover’s exterior design’s major departure from the Lexus tradition. The new frontal design was different, the new styling has moved away from the iconic Lexus spindle grille. It now presents a new Lexus face, with a smaller unified frameless grille unit that blends into the bodywork. My initial thoughts were, is that a Lexus? Initially from the front, it didn’t look like a traditional Lexus, although it had the Lexus badge. Is it an improvement? I believe it may well be, it may now appeal more so, to a younger target audience, at which it is aimed. I found the LBX appealing to the eye, having a refined silhouette. The front edge of the bonnet is lower than the LED headlights. The turn indicators and daytime running lights are merged into a single light unit, which features the Lexus “L” symbol. The long bonnet, and flared wings, express power, and a dynamic performance.
The wheels are either 17” or 18”, high gloss alloys, or dark grey machined alloys, depending on model choice, all of which complement, and enhance the LBX’s exterior. The LBX possesses classic crossover features, short overhangs for agility, and a low centre of gravity, making it an ideal choice for city streets, country roads and highway drives. The rear of the LBX proportions were inspired by the traditional Japanese dish, kagami mochi, (a dessert used to celebrate Japanese New Year, consisting of two discs, a smaller one on top of a larger one), portraying a compact cabin above a powerful underbody, which provides a visual impression of a low centre of gravity and stable handling.
The registration plate is situated in the centre of the rear bumper, allowing the “LEXUS” name, to stand out across the boot lid. The rear lights extend from the rear quarter, just behind the back door, continuously across the hatchback, to the opposite side, emphasising its width, and solid stance. The sleek and modern design, combines effortlessly the aerodynamics, with an aesthetic appeal. The sculpted lines, and bold contours, coordinate seamlessly from front to rear, not only enhancing the LBX’s appeal but also contributing to its fuel efficiency, by reducing drag. The body colours, trim materials, and wheels work nicely together. I believe the LBX’s aesthetics, will appeal to young urban and suburban commuters, its intended target demographic.
The external door handle mechanism is equipped with an electronic pressure-sensitive button, on the inside of the handle, which activates under pressure, rather than the conventional method of pulling the door handle, from the door panel.
Better visibility is achieved, during poor weather, with the new wet arm wiper system, which distributes screen washer fluid from the wiper arm itself, rather than spraying up from the bonnet nozzles, providing a more thorough and immediate windscreen cleaning system.
Stepping into the cabin, revealed a well-crafted interior, a clean open, and refined compact cabin, with premium materials, and thoughtful design. The cabin is perfectly proportioned and all controls are easily accessible. I was greeted with a combination of Black and Grey, Ultrasuede smooth leather, with copper stitched upholstery. The spacious seating, ergonomic controls, and intuitive infotainment system created an environment that caters to both drivers and passengers.
The “Takumi Design” is equipped with the latest technology features, including the Lexus Link Connect system, operated via a user-friendly 9.8” touchscreen, situated below the level of the dashboard, which seems to seamlessly blend into the top of the centre console, leaving the dashboard, windscreen and road ahead, clear of obstructions. The cloud-based navigation system provides real-time information on traffic events and delays. The sound system, designed by Mark Levison, is one to be envied, it features thirteen optimally positioned speakers, and a subwoofer, which is integrated in the back door, providing a great sound, and making every trip enjoyable.
The cockpit features a brand new 12.3” digital instrument display panel, which also allows drivers to customise its layout and content, based on driver’s preferences, or the vehicles driving mode.
The all-new LBX is also equipped with a comprehensive safety and driver assistance system. Lexus Safety System+ provides a connected and secure driving experience. Key elements include a Pre-Collision System with Intersection Turn Assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Road Sign Assist.
The internal door release mechanism, is Lexus’ e-Latch system, with Safe Exit Assist. This system is operated by pushing the internal door handle away from the occupant, rather than towards the occupant, providing smoother operation. The Safe Exit Assist, will not allow the doors to be opened if the vehicle senses an oncoming vehicle or cyclist, from the rear.
The LBX, can seat up to five passengers relatively comfortably, depending on the individual’s height. I am 5’8”, and I could fit comfortably both in the back and front. The seats were comfortable and the Ultrasuede upholstery provided a luxurious feel. Being slightly vertically challenged, and due to the low driving position, as the hip point of the vehicle has been lowered, I had to raise the driver’s power-assisted seat to its maximum height.
The LBX, also offers an optional digital key. Through the Lexus Link app, up to five users can unlock and start the vehicle, just with their phones. The app, also enables other features, such as remote activation of the heating and air conditioning, to warm up, or cool down the vehicle before you get in.
There is sufficient space in the 402-litre boot, to fit two large suitcases, this can be increased to 994 litres by lowering the back seat, and backrests. The boot sill is nice and low, for lifting heavy objects in and out, and the boot/hatchback is powered, for ease of access and closing.
Behind the Wheel
Immediately, upon sliding into the LBX’s driver’s seat, and adjusting the power-assisted seat and newly designed three-spoke steering wheel, to my preferred height, reach, and driving position, I noticed the commanding view and clear visibility my positioning offered, of the road ahead. It made me feel secure, and confident, as I pulled out of Plaza del Ayuntamiento, onto the city roads, and into the Valencian traffic. I immediately began to experience the city’s vibrant energy, combined with the eco-friendly sophistication of the hybrid technology. I felt comfortable transitioning from the bustling streets of the city centre, to the winding coastal roads, where the LBX immediately proved an ideal companion for a versatile and enjoyable driving and sensory experience. All round visibility was extremely good, allowing occupants to view the surrounding architectural delights and a vast array of citrus plantations. It was a shame the weather was mostly overcast. This, however, didn’t dampen the mood or experience.
Through the Heads-Up Display (HUD), I noticed that the steering wheel control options were touch-sensitive and visible on the inside of the windscreen.
Navigating the lively streets of Valencia, with the pre-programmed route, and Lexus’ Safety System+, kept me alert to the many driving hazards of the city, helping my confidence in my capabilities, with driving on the other side of the road, and unfamiliar surroundings. The compact design, coupled with the responsive steering made it easy to weave through the traffic and narrow city lanes. The bipolar, nickel-metal, high-power battery operation, during low-speed city driving, added a touch of serenity, creating a calm and enjoyable atmosphere within the cabin,
Valencia’s cityscape is renowned for its periodic traffic congestion, where the LBX proved its efficiency in such conditions. The hybrid system seamlessly transitions between electric and the naturally aspirated engine, allowing for a smooth and fuel-efficient ride, during the stop-and-go traffic. The Predictive Efficient Drive, operates automatically, constantly saving on fuel and reducing emissions. The regenerative braking system also plays its role, maximizing energy recovery in this urban environment, and contributing to extended battery life. The power and source being used, including regenerative recovery back into the battery, was visible on the 12.3 Digital Display Instrument Panel. The automatic transmission, CVT gear system, provided a seamless and almost infinite gear change ratio, offering further fuel savings through its efficiency.
The optional Heads-Up Display provided clear and concise information regarding speed limits, and my current speed, without taking my eyes off the road. The Navigational system kept flipping to camera mode whenever vehicles or hazards came too close to the vehicle, providing warning tones, alerting me to surrounding hazards, and aiding in an uneventful journey.
Leaving the city behind, the all-new LBX also excelled on the scenic country and coastal roads surrounding Valencia. Taking in the views of the numerous citrus plantations along the country roads, and taking in the sea air, along the coastal roads. The stability and handling again instilled confidence, providing a sense of control even on those winding roads. There was sufficient power produced by both the electric motor, and the engine, at various stages of the drive. The LBX’s hybrid technology not only enhanced the experience and fuel efficiency but also showcased a dedication to reducing carbon emissions, aligning perfectly with the environmentally conscious spirit of Valencia, as it is poised to take over from Tallinn as the European Green Capital in 2024.
The handling was nimble and the steering responsive. The suspension struck a balance between comfort and sportiness, making each driving scenario enjoyable. The low centre of gravity and strategically placed battery pack contributes to the overall stability, and cornering prowess of the LBX. The driving dynamics of the LBX hybrid, compact crossover SUV, makes it a pleasure to navigate through various driving conditions and scenarios. The healthy fuel consumption figures, at up to 65.7mpg, will also negate frequent refilling.
Moving onto the highways, I wasn’t left wanting for power, the responsiveness allowed for confident speed increases, and lane changes, contributing to a stable and controlled drive. Road noise, due to insulation was minimal, maintaining the cabin’s serenity, even at higher speeds. The Lexus Safety System+, again coming to the fore, where the Lane Keep Assist, and Cruise Control, Automatic Braking, added an extra layer of safety.
The only downside I experienced, was when using the paddle shifts on the steering wheel. They didn’t seem to be as responsive, as what I’m normally used to.
The All-new LBX, Hybrid, SUV, is more than just a fuel-efficient compact crossover SUV, it’s a dynamic and well-rounded driving experience, providing Confidence, Control and Comfort. From its stylish exterior to the carefully crafted luxurious interiors, and seamless integration of hybrid technology, the LBX enters the compact crossover segment, confidently. Its eco-friendly credentials, coupled with impressive performance, make it a compelling choice for urban dwellers, who prioritize efficiency without compromising luxury and style. If you are in the market for a compact crossover, that excels in both performance and sustainability, the all-new LBX, is undoubtedly worth a test drive.
In the ever-evolving landscape of automotive technology, the all-new LBX Hybrid Crossover, emerges as a frontrunner in the hybrid crossover segment, seamlessly blending efficiency with performance and technology with luxury. After only spending a day behind the wheel, it is evident that this vehicle isn’t just about saving on fuel, it’s a driving experience that harmonizes power, luxury and sustainability. For those seeking a sophisticated and eco-friendly driving experience, it would prove to be a compelling choice.
The well-appointed luxurious cabin of the LBX makes any destination more enjoyable than the journey itself. For those looking to purchase a high-end Compact Crossover SUV, with space, style, and cutting-edge features, I think the all-new LBX ticks many of the boxes, if not all. The real question I ask myself, after the driving experience, is “Would I buy one”. In this case, the resounding answer would be yes.
Is It London ULEZ Compliant?
To accommodate my evolving lifestyle after retirement, I am in search of a five-door car that provides easy access for both elderly parents and young grandchildren. Additionally, I require a spacious boot that can accommodate a pushchair and luggage. It is crucial that the car is ULEZ London Compliant, equipped with a petrol engine, and offers economical running costs. Can the Lexus LBX meet these requirements?
The Main Aspects
Lexus Safety System+.
The Heads-Up Display (HUD).
e-Latch door mechanism.
External door handle pressure opening button.
Wet Arm Wiper System.
Mark Levison sound system.
The main market is Europe and the UK. UK specifications may differ slightly, about the LBX’s interior atmosphere choices. The all-new LBX is available to order now, online through official Lexus national retail websites, and at Lexus centres. Cars will be delivered to customers from March 2024.
The all-new Lexus LBX, marketplace competitor, is said to be the Audi Q2 and Mini Countryman, with the Q2 model being discontinued, I think the LBX will be comfortably placed in this segment.
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