the tiny Lexus that breaks the codes

the tiny Lexus that breaks the codes
the tiny Lexus that breaks the codes

Toyota’s luxury brand is launching into the small urban SUV, with an inspired and very unique LBX, which could paradoxically bring in very big profits. Essay.

If Lexus wanted to make an impact and display its renewal, the LBX is undoubtedly the symbol. The brand, known and recognized throughout the world for its large premium sedans and large comfortable SUVs, is attempting to break into a market where it was not expected at all, small urban vehicles.

Because yes, this LBX is the smallest Lexus ever produced. At 4.19 meters, it is shorter than the Lexus CT, launched in 2010 and sold more than 400,000 units in its 12-year career. An honorable performance, but one which inspired the brand to persist and push the spotlight on this high-margin small vehicle segment, alongside its traditional activities.

The Lexus LBX – Antoine Larigaudrie

And the finished result of this reflection is convincing. Lexus started from parent company Toyota’s best-seller, the little Yaris Cross, to serve as the basis for its LBX (just as the CT came from the Corolla, and the ES from the Camry). But this time, it is not a rebadged or slightly restyled model, Lexus having given it a real dress of character.

The Lexus LBX – Antoine Larigaudrie

The front, very “Lexus”, takes up the famous hammerhead grille that we also find on the Toyota Prius, with almond-shaped optics, a tall stature but a contained height (1.5m), and pretty curves, reminiscent of the Opel Mokka, the Ford Puma or even the new aesthetic from Smart. A successful mix that turns heads on the street, especially in this elegant “bassoon copper” color and black roof.

We like: a truly beautiful Lexus

Inside, the Lexus LBX is a truly beautiful Lexus… in miniature. Pretty little multifunction steering wheel, very comfortable seats (even in the rear) in ivory leather, gray Alcantara with pretty orange stitching reminiscent of the color of the bodywork, quality lacquered plastics… the brand image is carefully respected while remaining adapting to a more urban, more dynamic and perhaps younger identity. From the very neat digital displays, with a large quality central screen, to the impeccable connectivity, including the quality of the Mark Levinson audio with 13 speakers, no doubt… we are in a real Lexus concentrate, very chic , which does not forget to be modular and practical.

The interior of the car – Antoine Larigaudrie

Behind the wheel, we find all the qualities of the typical behavior of the Toyota Yaris Cross, both dynamic and economical. The power chain is entirely taken over, namely a 3-cylinder 1.5 liter thermal engine associated with a 33kW electric battery and continuously variable gearbox. At 136 horsepower, the power is comfortable with 185 Nm of torque, especially for a car that does not exceed 1.35 tonnes. The soft damping, just enough, guarantees real good driving comfort, a feat for such a small machine.

We also like: a very economical engine

This simple traction is therefore extremely pleasant to drive in town, especially from a perspective of economical driving where the electrical phases are quite frequent, which can even extend over several hundred meters or even a kilometer depending on traffic conditions and speed. A real little game that can be spiced up by activating the EV Mode function which maximizes battery use, especially at low speed. And finally we find ourselves with really very low consumption, with an average of 4.7L on a mixed route observed during the test, a very good result.

The Lexus LBX – Antoine Larigaudrie

Even after a test on the highway, which will not be its favorite terrain, the LBX reveals very good handling and impeccable comfort conditions over long distances, even at the rear. Its powertrain guarantees good pick-up, unlike the first small Toyota hybrid models whose behavior on major roads was rather laborious. And in these traffic conditions, consumption will not exceed 7L/100km, a truly remarkable score.

We like less: unpleasant engine and small trunk

A chic little urban SUV… but not without some flaws, inherent to its technical origins: the Toyota hybrid powertrain is still not a model of driving pleasure. Even if it remains softer than its first versions, it remains noisy and not very pleasant on its thermal side, making out-of-town driving a little noisy. Moreover, note that the fuel gauge can be slightly misleading on the highway, dropping suddenly at high speed to the end of your tank! Don’t hesitate to allow for some margin.

Lexus LBX – Antoine Larigaudrie

The audible warnings for reading signs/exceeding speed or changing lanes are a bit irritating, but can be disengaged quite easily via the central console screen. Finally, note a rather small trunk too, of only 332 liters, enough for two large suitcases, but not extraordinary nonetheless.

But at what cost? A good deal at the best time

But if this LBX is full of qualities, the main one remains… its release timing! And Lexus can even bet on a real breakthrough as the timing is ideal. In the premium urban SUV segment, the DS3 Crossback and the Audi Q2 are starting to age, the Opel Mokka despite all its qualities is struggling to find its audience… and above all, its main competitor, Mini (notably the Countryman), is in the middle of a rather daring restyling process, which leaves everyone, including its customers, very perplexed.

Lexus therefore has a very favorable window of opportunity ahead of it to establish its LBX as the new darling of upscale neighborhoods, with the added advantage of very good value for money (base price 34,300 euros).

Model tested: Lexus LBX Cool Pack Advanced two-tone

Price: 46,300 euros

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