Besides the launch of the new ES, Lexus Indonesia also brought the Lexus UX to the 2018 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) for an Asian premiere. Unveiled in March at the Geneva show, the UX is Lexus’ smallest SUV, slotting under the NX as “a new gateway to the brand.”

To go up against the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, the UX is the first Lexus to use the brand’s GA-C (that’s Global Architecture – Compact) platform. Lexus says that the rigid structure and low center of gravity help the UX deliver exemplary handling agility and ride comfort, along with a distinctive driving personality.

The UX is 4,496 mm long and has a 2,639 mm wheelbase, which makes it 144 mm shorter than the NX, although the wheelbase deficit is just 21 mm. Design highlights include flared front and rear square fenders and a simple rear design featuring full-width tail lights are formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs that taper toward the centre.

While the UX cabin design is new, it’s unmistakably Lexus. The brand says that the UX gives the driver a commanding view of the road expected from a crossover, with a driving position of a sport hatch. The “seat-in-control” concept focuses operation of all key vehicle functions around the driver’s side of the cabin, and the seatback shape allows the driver to operate the controls while maintaining a comfortable, natural posture, Lexus says.

The air vents sound particularly cool. They use a new single-knob control for airflow direction and volume, while the vents themselves are illuminated using a new wireless system. Each control’s LED is wirelessly powered using electromagnetic resonance between two coils vibrating at the same frequency. Using the same design principle as the Lexus LC’s rear lamps, the vent LEDs use mirror optics to create the effect of floating lighting depth, even though the reflector element is just 3 mm thick.

The Lexus UX comes in two versions – the UX 200 and the UX 250h hybrid. The UX 200 introduces the new 168 hp Dynamic Force 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine coupled with the new Direct-Shift CVT.

The UX 250h you see here takes the same engine and pairs it to a fourth-generation hybrid system with a projected output of 176 hp. The hybrid system has a compact and lightweight new transaxle and Power Control Unit, designed to minimise power losses through heat and friction.

Locating the nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) battery and compact cooling system below the rear seat helps maximise cabin and cargo space, while supporting the low centre of gravity.

The E-Four system gives the UX 250h AWD capability by using an additional electric motor on the rear axle. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is automatically optimised when accelerating, cornering, or driving on slippery surfaces. When a loss of rear-wheel grip is detected, power directed to the rear is increased to around 80%, at speeds up to 70 km/h, contributing to handling and stability.

This showcar is in F Sport trim, which brings specific springs and stabiliser bars, plus rear performance dampers to sharpen handling. Exterior features include a different spindle grille mesh, large fog lamp bezels with L-shaped chrome moldings and detailing that repeats the F-mesh grille pattern, a unique rear bumper, 18-inch alloys and jet-black body trim.

Inside, F Sport cars get front sports seats, a moving meter, F Sport steering wheel with dimpled leather (also on the shift knob), eight-inch TFT colour display and aluminium pedals. Active Sound Control (ASC) generates the aural effect of gearshifts (CVT, remember) and there’s a sportier “S+ Sound” in the Sport S+ mode.

What do you think of the Lexus UX as a rival to the X1 and GLA?

GALLERY: Lexus UX official images