Ian Lamming discovers that good things come in small packages in the new Lexus LBX
Ian Lamming discovers that good things come in small packages in the new Lexus LBX

LEXUS, one of the world’s luxury brands, carefully crafted by Toyota over the past 35 years to challenge allcomers in the prestige market.

The name itself even sounds luxurious – Lexus – and whatever the model you know it will be built to the point of obsession by true craftsmen.

Of course that generally comes at a price and why not, an awful lot of development, time and expertise goes into each car. That said they do tend to undercut the opposition making them very good value for money.

And from now on that accessibility for the masses is going to improve even more. Imagine a Lexus where the price tag starts with a ‘2’. Surely not? But the latest model starts from £29,999, which buys you an entry level LBX – a what?

LBX is a small SUV – think Yaris Cross for comparison – but it has been Lexusified (is that even a word? It is now) in every way.

It is a taste of luxury and undoubtedly will push owners onto other Lexus further up the line. But it’s also a great standalone car from which many will be happy never to progress.

As the range goes, LBX moves away from the traditional Lexus family look. From the front it retains the spindle grille but only below the bonnet line while above it the lines go much rounder and less angular.

The rear is exceptionally neat and muscular with LED lights which stretch right across the back. From the side it is tail-up nose-down giving the impression of forward motion. It is also beautifully proportioned helped by the large attractive alloy wheels.

The interior of the LBX is pure Lexus. You can feel it as you slip inside with the high quality materials stretching around the cabin and sensible technology. It’s like dressing up in your cherished outfit to feast on your favourite food. Boost the ambience even further by turning on the 13-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround system which gives concert hall levels of glorious music.

Everything fits like a glove. The seats support your body and all the controls fall easily to hand. The technology – the virtual instruments and large touchscreen centre console – are intuitive and therefore easy to operate. They are also surrounding by tactile materials which look as good as they feel. LBX may be modestly proportioned but it never feels small or cramped.

Lavish looks and opulent interior are of course mirrored by the car’s dynamics. The ride is of the highest quality like all Lexus in the range. It glides over all surfaces, which let’s face it are shockingly pockmarked nowadays, but is tuned for maximum performance. The body control is perfect through the bends and the steering well-weighted for maximum feel. So LBX loves all conditions, whether that’s the tedium of motorways, the agility of town driving or the sporting nature of cross country forays. It’s a delight to drive.

The 1.5 litre motor, like in Yaris, is accomplished boasting both strong performance and amazing economy. Under power the hybrid petrol sounds edgy thanks to the offbeat nature of an odd number of cylinders, namely three. Towns and narrow roads see the LBX switch to electric which is smooth and rapid. Then on the motorways it seems to alternate between petrol and EV depending on the load, such as the gradient of the road or wind conditions. The result is an average consumption of around 60mpg, even higher on the slow stuff, which is fabulous.

LBX is going to win new friends, no doubt about that, because it opens up a quality sector to the masses. In these difficult climes, who wouldn’t want to treat themselves?

Fact file

Lexus LBX Takumi Design

Engine: 1.5 three cylinder petrol with self-charging electric

Power: 136HP combined

Max speed: 120mph

0-60mph: 9.2 secs

Transmission: CVT Automatic

MPG: 61.4

CO2 g/km: 104

Price: £39,255