Lexus has launched its smallest SUV in Thailand. The Lexus UX is billed as a “creative urban crossover” and is available in sole UX 250h hybrid from. Three trim levels are offered – the UX 250h Luxury for 2.49 million baht (RM320,134), the UX 250h Grand Luxury for 2.69 million baht (RM345,893) and the UX 250h F Sport AWD for 3.62 million baht (RM465,476).

Lexus’ rival to the BMW X1/X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLA is the first car from the brand to use the GA-C (Global Architecture – Compact) platform, which is derived from Toyota’s TNGA architecture that underpins the C-HR, among other cars. 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 full-width tail lights formed by a sequence of 120 LEDs that taper toward the centre. Lexus used aluminium in the doors, fenders and bonnet – as well as a resin tailgate – to reduce weight.

The UX 250h pairs a 146 PS/188 Nm 2.0 litre Atkinson cycle naturally-aspirated engine to a fourth-generation hybrid system for a total system output of 184 PS. The nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery and compact cooling system is located below the rear seats to maximise cabin and cargo space, while providing a low centre of gravity.

The front-wheel-drive model with an E-CVT automatic gearbox does 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 177 km/h. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 22.73 km/l.

The F Sport AWD sounds like the top model in performance terms, but it’s actually heavier, slower and less economical. Rolling on bigger wheels (18- vs 17-inch), the Dynamic Torque Control AWD and Adaptive Variable Suspension-equipped car does the century sprint in 8.7 seconds and average FC is quoted at 21.28 km/l.

It does come with more kit than the regular UX shown here though. F Sport-exclusive items include a unique grille and sportier body styling, sports seats, LFA-inspired sliding meter, paddle shifters, S+ and Custom modes on the Drive Mode Select and the aforementioned 18-inch rims and AVS.

The Lexus UX had its Malaysian preview at KLIMS 2018. The car that we saw in KL was the UX 200, powered by a 2.0 litre Dynamic Force naturally-aspirated and direct-injected engine with 169 hp and 205 Nm, paired to a 10-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission.

Shocked by the UX’s Thai prices? That’s because like all other Lexus models, it’s a CBU import from Japan (Suzuki Jimny for RM200k anyone?) without the local assembly benefits of its German rivals. As a result, the hybrid UX will be remain a niche model in the Land of Smiles. It would be the same narrative should the UX reach our market.

GALLERY: Lexus UX 200 at KLIMS 2018