New Lexus LBX 2024 evaluate: a small hybrid SUV that fails to face out

New Lexus LBX 2024 review: a small hybrid SUV that fails to stand out


Lexus has finished sufficient to make the LBX a reputable premium small SUV – and the hybrid powertrain means it ought to discover patrons who need electrified effectivity however aren’t prepared to leap to a full EV. What they won’t be shopping for, although, is a stellar worth proposition; there are nonetheless loads of small electrical vehicles on the market for much less, and whereas they could fall wanting the LBX’s cabin end, they greater than make up for it with better practicality and month-to-month PCP financial savings.

The brand new Lexus LBX will be the smallest automotive the Japanese model makes, nevertheless it’s additionally one of the vital. This can be a Nissan Juke-sized SUV that would open Toyota’s premium division as much as a number of recent clients, exploit additional the transitional advantages of its hybrid powertrain, and provides an enormous shot within the arm to the corporate’s gross sales and market share throughout Europe. No strain, then.

The market appears to be transferring in direction of Lexus, too; the automotive the corporate considers the obvious rival for the LBX, the Audi Q2, is because of depart showrooms sooner or later in 2024. And one other key competitor, the MINI Countryman, grows considerably for its forthcoming era. It’s little marvel that Lexus GB thinks it will possibly use LBX to catapult its annual gross sales right here past the 20,000-vehicle mark for the primary time.

But that is additionally a automotive with dangers, for the LBX shares rather a lot with present Toyotas – extra straight than just about any Lexus we’ve seen to date. It makes use of the identical TNGA-B platform because the Yaris Cross, with each vehicles matched on basic structure and physique fashion. They’re each petrol-electric hybrid crossovers, plain and easy – to the purpose the place you marvel how Lexus is absolutely going so as to add sufficient worth to make its mannequin stand aside, and justify its increased value.

The 2 vehicles aren’t fully an identical, thoughts you. For starters, the LBX really has a barely longer wheelbase (by 20mm) than the Yaris Cross, and it additionally has a bit of extra energy, with a complete of 134bhp, in contrast with the 129bhp of the range-topping Toyota. There’s a distinction in battery know-how too, with Lexus claiming that its setup permits higher response from the electrical a part of the automotive’s powertrain, for punchier, snappier manoeuvres round city.

The TNGA-B platform provides scope for an electrified again axle and certain sufficient, Lexus has elected to supply that possibility. So whereas all LBXs have MacPherson struts on the entrance, there are a few rear-suspension choices – a space-efficient torsion beam in front-drive editions like the instance we’re driving right here, and double wishbones in four-wheel-drive variations. The 2 additional pushed wheels can be found solely on flagship fashions, with a premium of round £1,300; Lexus expects them to account for only some per cent of gross sales.

Issues begin encouragingly sufficient; the LBX appears to be like fairly good from the surface, with a recent tackle the maker’s spindle grille and an fascinating selection of colors – a lot of them bolder than regular Lexus fare, since this can be a automotive designed to enchantment to youthful clients. 

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It feels plush sufficient if you climb aboard, too; the core structure appears to be like slicker and higher built-in than that of the Yaris Cross, and there are top-quality, stitched supplies and dense foam padding in key areas. 

The infotainment system is properly positioned and has a crisp show, plus there are bodily controls for heating and air flow straight beneath it. Loads of important controls, such because the stubby gear selector and door buttons (as an alternative of normal handles) really feel suitably excessive grade. However it’s not flawless – the mechanism on the central sliding armrest feels a bit low cost, for instance – nevertheless it’s in all probability premium sufficient.

The on-road expertise is strong too, although in the end it lacks any standout attributes. That’s to say that Lexus’s declare that the automotive can run for 50 per cent of the time on electrical energy round city appears legitimate sufficient to us; on the model’s check route in Valencia, we discovered it nippy sufficient to dart out and in of rush-hour site visitors, with a bit of extra on the spot punch than we’re used to feeling within the likes of the Yaris and Yaris Cross. 

The low-speed experience is typical TNGA fare; agency however managed, and infrequently uncomfortable. The steering is maybe a teeny bit heavier than we’d like, and the self centring a bit of robust, nevertheless it’s correct and makes it simple to position such a compact car in tight metropolis streets.

Issues don’t disintegrate fully on quicker roads, both. Physique management is, if something, higher than it must be, and whereas sharp, high-frequency inputs can nonetheless hit the dampers sufficiently for jolts to enter the cabin, usually the LBX strikes an excellent stability between composure and luxury. 

There’s not a lot profit to pushing on, although; chuck the automotive at a nook and it simply settles dutifully. Any chunk, verve or real crispness is smothered and softened by a combination of traction management, stability management, a braking set-up designed to scale back nostril pitch, and the distant murmurings of the CVT transmission. It’s high quality, secure, safe – simply not a lot enjoyable.

Now, the newest iteration of the hybrid powertrain is way improved over its predecessors, and is impressively easy at feeding in petrol energy if you push the automotive past what the electrical bits can do. However when you’re at that time, a affected person method is greatest, as a result of overly aggressive throttle inputs ship the revs rising, accompanied not by a four-cylinder drone however moderately a gurgling reminder that that is the primary Lexus to characteristic a three-cylinder motor.

Behave your self and this shouldn’t be an excessive amount of of a problem, although; the system typically retains revs fairly low until it’s pushed arduous, and when you’re up and working, the LBX is each snug and refined – solely a little bit of wind noise from across the facet mirrors spoils issues at a motorway cruise.

Sadly, if the entrance cabin expertise is a notch above many small SUVs, the rear seats are hardly a triumph. It’s cramped again there, so anybody six toes tall will wrestle for foot house, knee room and head room – extra so, we’d counsel, than in ‘aspirational mainstream’ rivals like Peugeot’s newest E-2008, and even the Fiat 600 or Jeep Avenger. The Toyota feels slim, too, so whereas there’s a center seat, three adults would wrestle to slot in the second row.

Very like with so many MINIs, we might see this house getting used extra continuously as a handy dumping floor, for purchasing and normal litter, than for carrying individuals. Ought to house owners need or want to make use of the boot, they’ll discover it surprisingly deep – particularly on front-drive variations, which have a capability of 402 litres. A four-wheel-drive automotive can have as little as 315 litres. However the ground can’t be adjusted for peak, so that you’ll at all times have a hefty lip to load heavy gadgets over, and there’s not a single hook to carry a purchasing or takeaway bag – just some tiedown anchors within the ground.

Lexus can’t be accused of scrimping on normal tools with the LBX, nonetheless. The vary begins with City, which brings 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with auto excessive beam, a seven-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone air-con, entrance and rear parking sensors with a rear-view digicam, plus Lexus’s very first rate Hyperlink Join 9.8-inch infotainment system.

Shifting as much as Premium brings heated entrance seats, synthetic-leather upholstery, a wi-fi smartphone charging pad, rain-sensing wipers and further security package, whereas Premium Plus provides a bigger digital instrument panel, a powered tailgate, a head-up show, additional USB ports, and 18-inch alloys.

Vary-topping Takumi comes with semi-aniline leather-based seats, parking help, a powerful 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, LED fog lights, energy adjustment on the driving force’s seat and inside ambient lighting. These prime two variations may include a ‘Design’ suffix meaning posher upholstery, machined 18-inch wheels, and a distinction roof color.

Specs look beneficiant, then – however they should, for this isn’t an inexpensive automotive. An LBX City will set you again a whisker underneath £30,000, and by the point you get to the Premium Plus version that we’re attempting right here, you’re £34,495 – which is the thick finish of 9 grand greater than a mid-spec Yaris Cross, and £3k up on what Peugeot will cost you for a GT-spec 2008. From our perspective, that appears a chunky uplift for a premium badge.

Mannequin: Lexus LBX Premium Plus
Value: £34,495
Engine: 1.5-litre 3cyl petrol hybrid
Energy: 134bhp
Transmission: CVT automated, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Prime velocity: 106mph
Financial system: 60.1-64.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 100-107g/km
Dimensions (l/w/h): 4,190/1,825/1,560mm
On sale: Now

John began journalism reporting on motorsport – particularly rallying, which he had adopted avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved throughout to testing street vehicles. He’s now been reviewing vehicles and writing information tales about them for nearly 20 years.

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