UK customers are now able to pre-order the Lexus LBX crossover, which has been priced from £29,995.
That nets you an entry-level Urban model featuring 17in alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 9.8in infotainment touchscreen and a rear-view camera, among other amenities.
Five other grades – for which pricing is yet to be announced – are also available.
The next step up, Premium, introduces heated front seats, rear privacy glass and blindspot monitoring, plus more.
Premium Plus upsizes the alloys to 18in and adds a powered bootlid, 12.3in digital instrument display, a head-up display and an air-purification system.
Premium Plus Design adds two-tone paintwork, machined alloy wheels and perforated interior upholstery.
Takumi models receive a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, upgraded leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and additional driver-assistance systems.
Takumi Design adds the same bi-tone paperwork as on Premium cars, plus an Ultrasuede interior.
The LBX’s launch line-up is topped by the Original Edition, which brings copper two-tone paint and dedicated badging.
Final pricing for the full range will be confirmed in early October, said Lexus, ahead of deliveries starting in March 2024.
“We’re not trying to make a cheap car, we’re trying to make a small car,” chief branding officer Simon Humphries told Autocar in June 2023.
What is the Lexus LBX?
Lexus is aiming to capture a share of the burgeoning premium crossover market with its smallest model to date, the new LBX.
The ‘Lexus Breakthrough Crossover’ is the first model the marque has designed specifically for the European market; sharing Toyota’s TNGA-B platform with the smash-hit Yaris Cross.
The LBX’s technical specification has been shaped by the demands of its target customers, of whom a “large majority” wanted a parallel-hybrid powertrain, according to Lexus Europe boss Dimitris Tripospitis.
The set-up comprises a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a single electric motor, which combine to send up to 134bhp and 136lb ft through the front wheels. It draws power from a new bipolar nickel-metal-hydride battery, first used in the larger Lexus RX that launched last year.
Chief engineer Kunihiko Endo said it offers much greater power density and throughput potential than traditional lithium-ion cells, reputedly allowing the LBX to provide off-the-mark acceleration comparable with battery-electric cars.
It dispatches the 0-62mph sprint in 9.2sec and, according to product manager Bart Eelen, provides class-leading fuel economy plus CO2 emissions “comfortably below” 120g/km. A dual-motor, four-wheel-drive variant is also inbound, said Eelen, but technical specifications are yet to be confirmed.
Imbuing the LBX with the refinement expected of a Lexus was “quite challenging”, Endo told Autocar, requiring an alternative approach to the conventional fitment of sound-insulating materials.
He said: “If you want to [remove] sound by using more and more sound absorbers it also leads to higher costs, right? So we tried to eliminate the sound itself so that we don’t have to use too much in order to achieve a more silent car.
“One or two elements, as an example, would be the [engine] balance shaft, also the flex joints, were all ideas in order to reduce the sound itself.” Endo added that this was not a cost-cutting measure, but the most effective way to improve refinement.
The TNGA-B platform was also modified to ensure the LBX drives like a Lexus, with Endo referring to 1989’s seminal LS saloon as a reference.
The wheelbase was stretched by 20mm, the overhangs reduced and the track widened, meaning the crossover is 4190mm long, 1825mm wide and 1545mm high, with a 2580mm-long wheelbase.
For reference, the old CT hatchback was 165mm longer and 195mm wider, yet its wheelbase was only 20mm longer than that of the LBX.
The front suspension has also been reworked to optimise the LBX’s handling, with feedback from Toyota chairman and famously enthusiastic driver Akio Toyoda “at key points”.
Lexus International president Takashi Watanabe said: “The result is a car you can drive with confidence. On winding roads, LBX feels more like a nimble hatchback than a crossover. We aimed for a fun driving experience that makes you want to drive it forever. It is like the way you feel about your favourite pair of shoes.”
Key to this is a new system which automatically adjusts the brake balance to minimise body pitch and roll under heavy loads, such as emergency braking or tight bends.
Inside, the LBX has been designed with a focus on the driver, featuring a seating position much lower than in most crossovers. The dashboard and centre console have been simplified as much as possible, with key controls assigned to physical switches.
A 9.8in infotainment touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and a 12.3in digital instrument display, are standard equipment.
The LBX is planned to account for a significant portion of Lexus’s sales volume in Europe when deliveries begin in the first quarter of 2024.