2024 Lexus LBX new car review

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Lexus hopes its smallest car ever will make a big impact.

The all-new LBX compact SUV has five seats but isn’t well suited to families.

The brand is instead targeting singles and couples who value luxury trinkets, style and attention to detail.

The fuel-sipping hybrid makes a statement, with trademark Lexus sharp edges and a contrasting black roof.

An entry-level price tag of about $55,000 drive-away – undercutting the cheapest models from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz by thousands – also helps.

The LBX Luxury has perforated leather-look seats with red stitching, heated front seats, a powered tailgate, matrix LED headlights, a surround view camera, wireless phone charger, 12.3-inch digital driver display and a 9.8-inch infotainment screen with wireless connectivity for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The screen is smaller than many rivals, as the compact dashboard limits available real estate.

Lexus also offers buyers over-the-air software updates, remote connectivity via an app and a three-year subscription to Lexus Connected Services, allowing owners to monitor the vehicle and unlock it from afar.

The Sports Luxury (about $61,000) adds partial leather trim with orange stitching for a more youthful look. There are also suede-like finishes that complement the charcoals and blacks smattered elsewhere.

Other goodies include active noise cancelling, a head-up display, a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and black design highlights outside.

The LBX powers the front wheels with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder hybrid system making 100kW. The 69kW/185Nm electric motor has more muscle than the 67kW/120Nm petrol engine. For another $4000 the Sports Luxury has an additional motor added to the rear wheels for all-wheel drive. The extra motor makes just 4.7kW/52Nm and doesn’t change the 100kW maximum output.

It also replaces the simpler torsion beam rear suspension system with a more advanced multi-link set-up.

The AWD set-up raises the boot floor and reduces capacity by 22 per cent to a compact 315 litres.

Space is also tight in the back, especially for legroom – and three across the rear would be ambitious. Headroom is OK, though, although the high window sills may leave toddlers peering at the sky. There’s no central arm rest in the rear and no rear air vents. Upfront accommodation is more generous and the powered driver’s seat with memory settings makes it easy to share the driving duties.

There are some clever storage areas beneath the floating centre console and sliding central arm rest.

The diminutive three-cylinder engine grumbles from a standstill but the torque of the electric motor makes for respectable around-town thrust.

On the freeway it holds its speed up hills, although there’s a dull drone as the revs rise.

No complaints about the claimed 3.8 litres of fuel per 100km, though.

Based on the underpinnings of the Toyota Yaris Cross, the LBX steps up the refinement, in part courtesy of double-glazed windows and additional sound deadening to hush the cabin.

Weighty steering adds some meat to the driving experience and it feels solid on the road. There’s ample cornering grip from the 18-inch tyres and when you wind up the pace it’s predictable and proficient.

The compact body adds to its nimble – if somewhat uninspiring – dynamics. But it’s the up-market flavour oozing throughout the cabin and the tempting price tag that makes the LBX worth considering for those shopping for a luxury ride.

Best keep it to two people, though.

VERDICT 4/5

The smallest ever Lexus delivers on quality and class, but a tight back seat means three’s a crowd.

LEXUS LBX

PRICE: From about $55,000 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICING: Five yrs/unlimited km, $2975 for five yrs/75,000km

SAFETY: Eight airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, front cross-traffic alert, rear auto braking, driver monitoring, safe exit assist, speed-sign recognition

ENGINE: 1.5-litre 3-cylinder hybrid, 100kW combined output

THIRST: 3.8L/100km

SPARE: Repair kit

BOOT: 315-402 litres