FIRST LOOK: Lexus is launching a small luxury SUV, the UX

The Lexus UX compact SUV. supplied

GENEVA – Japanese luxury car brand Lexus has premiered its major play for 2018, a urban crossover, the UX, at the Geneva international motor show.

The 4.5-metre long compact four-door, due in Australia in early 2019, will feature a new 2lt petrol engine, as well as a self-charging hybrid system, the 250h, combined with a new direct-shift continuously variable transmission.

The company’s executive vice president, Chika Kako, who is also chief engineer on the UX, said she wanted to design a new crossover genre that was “more distinctive and dynamic” for people Lexus calls “creative urban explorers”.

“The vehicle’s interior was very important to me, because that is where the driver and car connect,” she said.

“The UX cabin is very stylish, with high quality materials designed by the best Japanese craftsmen.”

The interior of the Lexus UX. supplied

It will be the fourth Lexus model introduced in Australia in 18 months, following on from the recently released RX “L” seven-seat SUV and the the flagship LS sedan next month.

New Australian chief executive Scott Thompson said the company expects the UX to be its biggest sales driver since the release of the NX nearly four years ago, as the company pushes towards annual sales of 10,000.

Lexus UX supplied

The figures show the success of the brand in Australia. In Geneva, European head Pascal Ruch revealed the company is looking to increase sales by a third to 100,000 in 2020.

In Europe, thanks to government financial incentives, an astonishing 98% of Lexus sales are electrified.

Thompson said the UX gives Toyota’s luxury brand the ability to attract new, younger customers with agile, hatchback-like driving, “while offering an aspirational alternative to our long-standing customers”.

The car will come with the Lexus Safety System+, which features a pre-collision system that can recognise pedestrians at night and cyclists during the day, as well as road sign assist and lane tracing assist.

The company will also release F Sport versions with 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and the option of the high-response adaptive variable suspension (AVS) system in the Lexus LC coupe.

The Lexus UX compact SUV. Supplied

* Disclosure: Business Insider Australia traveled to the Geneva international motor show as a guest of Lexus.