Long gone are the days when the premium car was a majestic giant plastered with chrome so that no one around could see how well you are doing. Automobile companies gradually reduced the concept of luxury to ever more compact forms, until they reached the pocket-sized city cars. And they mostly hit hard – Mercedes rather inflated and “normalized” its original A-Klasse over time, Audi quietly put an end to the suffering of the A1 and Q2, and the DS 3 Crossback probably won’t make a dent in the world either. Will Lexus find a recipe for success with its LBX?
It’s no secret that the basis of the new premium model is the mass-produced Toyota Yaris Cross. But Lexus has done an incredible job to take it to a noticeably higher level. And it’s not just about the exterior design, which takes the best motifs from its bigger siblings and concentrates them on a smaller surface. The result is valuable, distinctive and sexy without being condescending.
|4 190 mm
|1 825 mm
|1 560 mm
|2 580 mm
|402 (FWD) / 317 l (AWD)
Even more dramatic changes took place in the interior, which was completely redesigned. And this from the architecture, including the incorporation of a digital cockpit (7″ or 12.3″ depending on the equipment) and a 9.8-inch infotainment touchscreen, through the material concept (a wide range of leathers, including suede or aniline, which adorns the flagship LS) and the range of equipment elements (electric driver’s seat with memory, head-up display, electric trunk lid and much more) to small details that you might not even notice – for example, a steering wheel with levers coming directly from Lexus, sophisticated diffused lighting, air conditioning with Nanoe-X air control or electronic door locks to prevent your children from carelessly stepping under the wheels of a passing car.
Lexus engineers even intervened in the platform itself, when they strengthened the body skeleton in many places with additional reinforcements, slightly extended the wheelbase and also widened the track to make the car sit better on the road. For the same reason, they also lowered the driver’s seat a bit (it feels more like a classic hatchback than a crossover) to make you feel more part of the car and drive better.
And it really works, because the LBX is a joy to drive down the road. You have a great view from the driver’s seat, the steering is direct and precise, the self-assured chassis does not lean on the brakes or in the winches, which gives you confidence behind the wheel. It’s no racer, but it lets you enjoy the ride. The price for this is greater sensitivity to bumps, but the LBX still feels more mature and comfortable than the standard Yaris Cross.
Likewise, the LBX has a more advanced hybrid drive (which is the only option for it, but you can choose from front or all four wheel drive) – it combines elements of the fourth and fifth generation hybrids. The basis is still an atmospheric three-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor through an eCVT transmission, but the NiMH battery used is more powerful and the combined output has risen to 136 hp.
Mainly, the entire drive is much more refined and better dampened, because you spend a lot of time in pure electric mode, and when the internal combustion engine kicks in, you don’t even notice it. Even on the highway, it does not bother the crew with noise or vibrations. Only when you start to squeeze it, the typical three-cylinder growl is heard, but from a greater distance than the Toyota. If you want to deepen the acoustic experience, the highest versions can even be equipped with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) thanks to the Advanced package, which slightly silences not only the engine, but also aerodynamic noise and wheel rolling – and the rest is easily drowned out by the Mark Levinson hi-end audio with 13 speakers.
Lexus seriously surprised how much it cared about the rebirth of the Yaris Cross on the LBX, such a thorough redesign must have been hellishly demanding – and especially expensive. It is therefore not surprising that the LBX price list starts roughly where the Yaris Cross ends, i.e. at the level of 700,000 crowns. But that’s no big deal these days, similarly sized and nicely equipped mainstream cars are sold for that much. At the same time, it is enough to throw in a few tens of thousands and you have a car that will make you much more happy…
You might be scratching your head as to who would pay over 800,000 for a 4.2-meter-long three-cylinder, but every product has its buyer and Lexus believes in itself. You can be one of them if you want to be pampered with a premium experience and at the same time you don’t need a huge car that would be difficult to drive and difficult to park. In short, the Lexus LBX is a beautiful extravagance in a sensible design.