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Lexus UX 250h

I think Lexus have missed the point with their new UX 250h.

No, and it’s not giving it a proper name, because UX stands for Urban Crossover.

It’s the looks of the car.

There’s absolutely no doubt that Lexus make some startling looking cars.

Motors like the RC F, the LC and LS are so dramatic they stop people in their tracks.

The UX, on the other hand, looks, well, just normal.

Fair enough it’s got Toyota’s classic Star Wars Tie Fighter front end, but by now we’re all getting used to that.

Lexus, for those of you who live on a different planet, is Toyota’s upmarket brand, in the same way that Volkswagen own Bentley, BMW have Rolls Royce and Nissan and Peugeot have got in on the act, respectively with Infiniti and DS Automobiles.

But a flash Star Wars radiator grille isn’t going to make people stop and stare.

Nor are tough plastic wheel arch protectors that look like they’re made by Tonka, or huge empty spaces above all four tyres that make the car capable of tackling floods rather than blasting away on a race track.

People rich enough to own a Lexus want people who see it say: “What the UX that?”

Not just ignore it like they do with almost every other car they see.

Or do they? Maybe Lexus have stumbled on a new market for Lexus with the UX 250h?

Maybe it’s for people who can’t afford a proper “Oh my God, that’s fantastic” showstopper, but still feel the need for the badge.

In the case of the UX 250h they won’t be disappointed, because once they get behind the wheel it doesn’t just feel like a Lexus … it definitely is one.

I was scathing about the Kylie Minogue promoted Lexus CT 200h when it first hit the streets in 2011.

I said, quite rightly, that it didn’t deserve its upmarket badge and should be called the Toyota CT 200h.

But Toyota addressed its early problems by smartening it up considerably and now it has earned its name.

So does the Lexus UX 250h, at least the one Toyota loaned to me did.

Starting at a bargain price of less than 30 grand (yes it’s a Lexus), my car was fitted with just the £6,670-worth of extras that couldn’t have failed to make it live up to its premium badge.

For starters, £570 dressed it in a very smart and sparkly metallic paint job, which reminds me. Why does pretty much every paint job now have to come as an extra?

Anyway, add to that £4,200 for something called a Premium Plus Pack.

That adds leather seats, keyless entry and start, an electric tailgate (that helps because the tailgate alone is nearly four feet long), illuminated outside door handles, LED cornering headlights, heated seats and steering wheel, 18in alloys and Washi dashboard inserts.

Washi what? It’s a Japanese name for an extremely stylish, almost paper-effect, finish. It’s great.

Is that the lot for extras? No it isn’t. Another £1,900 adds the Tech & Sound Pack.

For that you get a Mark Levinson sound system, usually standard in a Lexus, eight way power adjustable seats, an electrically adjustable steering wheel, head-up display (easy to switch off), wireless phone charging tray and “intelligent” parking sensors which guide you in to the correct slot.

At a final price of £36,575 you end up with a full-blown Lexus and, to be honest, that still doesn’t sound like Lexus money.

So what’s the car like to drive? Actually it’s very good, just what you’d expect from a posh car brand.

That’s because it’s a hybrid. Not surprising, as Toyota came up with the world’s first widely available production hybrid in 1997.

The rest of the car world seems to be only just catching up now, with the imminent arrival of new laws on pollution and the banning of traditional combustion engines, 20 years too late, in 2040.

Needless to say, like all hybrids, it’s smooth, quiet, surprisingly quick when you need it to be, and highly fuel efficient.

I hadn’t even noticed I was cruising along at 70mph in full electric mode until I spotted the EV light was switched on in the dashboard.

Space-wise, the UX is a roomy car regardless of how much you’ve spent on extras.

Its normal boot space is up to 4ft (120cm) wide and a removable section increases its height to the parcel shelf by 6in to nearly 14in (36cm).

Fold flat the rear seat backs and there’s more than five feet of space to play with.

There’s plenty of room in the back for adults, never mind children, while the whole interior of my car was a cream and varying shades of black combination of hi-tec yet easy to use kit.

It may not have any “what the UX that”? appeal, but for people who want space, practicality and economy it’s certainly got plenty of that.

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IMAGE RATING

Lexus UX 250h.

REAR MIRROR MONSTER: A tall and ultra modern mix of LED lights with a Star Wars grille, it slopes back so much it looks more like an airplane than a car. Definitely threatening.

BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Definitely not. Appears to be a six-sectioned jumble of parts, including lighting that rises up to a point, like a 50s American car.

PLAYTIME PLEASER: 7in Lexus Navigation with full European mapping, twin-zone climate control, trip computer, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, 17-inch 10-spoke alloys (F Sport model), heated electric door mirrors, auto lights and wipers, speed limit display, reversing camera, auto dipping headlights, DAB stereo with Bluetooth, four USB ports (two in rear), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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NAUGHTY NIGGLES: My left knee kept catching the side at the front of the centre console. Door mirrors can be folded inwards electrically, but don’t do so automatically when you switch off the car. No spare tyre or even a blow and go kit, just run-flat tyres which don’t protect from the sides of pot holes. No rear door pockets.

TASTY TOUCHES: Two USB points to keep the kids in the back happy. Fold-out shopping bag hooks in boot. Good sized front door pockets. “Map” holder on back of the passenger seat is big enough for two bottles of wine.

FAST OR LAST: Not the sort of question you’d ask a hybrid car owner, who wouldn’t be interested.

WONGA WONDA: Go for the extras and their stunning value will turn your averagely equipped motor into a bargain Lexus with good sell-on value.

WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Chantelle isn’t a mum, or a sales rep, but she is a friends of the earth supporter so yes, it’s just fine.

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