Oftentimes we see that expectations tend to define successes and failures more than just about anything. If you are trying to flip your first house and you expect a return of a hundred grand and then end up making closer to fifteen grand, you will feel like your failed. But if you went in just hoping to gain some experience and knowledge so you could make money down the road, and you still made fifteen thousand dollars, you would be very happy with yourself. It boils down to perspective, and how you go into something, what you expect, colors how you feel about the end result. That brings us to the 2021 Lexus UX200 F-Sport.
Let us first say that in terms of compact luxury crossovers go, the Lexus UX200 F-Sport isn’t bad. It has nice lines, good cargo room for such a small SUV, and a comfy, fun and vibrant interior, especially when outfitted with the red leather heated and cooled seats. It is competent on and off-road (within reason), and gets incredible gas mileage to the tune of 29/37/32 city/highway/combined mpg.
But when it comes to the engine, its fuel economy is about the end of the positives we can come up with truthfully. Powered by a under-powered 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4, the UX200 manages to pump out only 169-horsepower and equally unimpressive 151 pound-feet of torque. That nominal amount of power is then funneled through a fun-sapping continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that is slow to adapt to throttle input and doesn’t always feel like it knows where to go in terms of gear selection — a problem common to many CVTs.
And this leads us back to what we were saying about expectations. This power-train combination is not great in terms of power under any circumstances, but because Lexus tacked on the ‘F-Sport’ badge to the UX, it makes things even worse. When we see that ‘F’ badge, we have been conditioned to expect something similar to BMW’s M badge. The first Lexus ISF was a 416-horsepower beast that rocketed from 0-60 mph in just 4.5 blistering seconds. The UX200 F-Sport? Not so much. 0-60 mph takes an eternal 8.9 seconds, while the quarter-mile takes an impossibly long 16.8 seconds at 85.3 mph. Around the skidpad the UX does post a respectable 0.85g, and braking from 60-0 mph takes a solid 120 feet, both of those last two figures are even better when you consider the UX tips the scales at 3,278 pound with 61% of that weight up front.
Now, we can already here the Lexus faithful, and we know, there is a vast difference between F and F-Sport. It’s the same with their German rivals, M and M-Sport are not the same cars. But the majority of M-Sport cars are still quick. If you have F or F-Sport attached to your moniker, there needs to be something sporting about the car. The Lexus UX200 F-Sport is in a somewhat surprisingly flooded market, competing against cars like the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Venue, Mazda CX-30, as well as the Mercedes Benz GLB and Jaguar E-Pace. The UX200 F-Sport a fine crossover for what it is, but when you factor in a base price of $35,925, it isn’t striking anyone as a value play.
The UX200 F-Sport is a product of somewhat failed expectations. At first sight, the ‘F-Sport’ badge caught out attention and we immediately thought of quick, fast, and fun luxury hot rodding, but that is not what we got. However, if Lexus got rid of that pesky badge, or if we just choose to ignore it, suddenly the UX200 doesn’t seem that bad in the least.