THE Lexus UX is a whole new car, described by the Japanese firm as a “Compact SUV designed for the modern ‘urban explorer’.”

Clear, then, that this is Lexus aiming at a younger market than ever – upwardly mobile people with a fair bit of disposal income, I’d wager.

I’ve certainly found Lexus in the past to be a little, I don’t know, bland I guess, especially on the inside.

Everything’s always been top quality, but lacking in any real personality. Alan Partridge drove one, let’s remember.

Fictional characters aside, I think the UX could change all of that.

It’s hybrid-only and, crucially, it’s equipped with the new, fourth-generation, self-charging hybrid powertrain.

As I remarked upon earlier this year when I drove the new Corolla from sibling Toyota, I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with these hybrids.

The idea is great, but the reality was often an engine that kicked in way too soon – usually before 30mph – and resulted in fuel economy rarely better than an average petrol and sometimes not as good as a diesel.

But, finally, this generation has really nailed it.

The combination of 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor – making 181bhp in total – finally really works, with EV mode seemingly a lot more involved than before. It’s easy to glide up to past 40mph before the engine starts up.

The result is nearly 50 on motorway and the big advantage is this doesn’t drop in town due to EV mode doing most of the work. Indeed, after a week of driving, which involved one long-distance trip and then the commute to work, my tester UX had settled nicely on about 45mpg and stayed there.

There are three trims, the base model simply called UX, followed by the sporty F Sport and the luxury Takumi. Four-wheel-drive is also available.

Standard features include alloys, sat nav, rear view camera, air con and the like.

F Sport gets bigger wheels, a sportier look outside with a revamped grille and badging, sports suspension, heated seats and more.

Takumi – which means ‘artisan’ in Japanese – gets all of the tech, as well as leather, 360-degree camera and all of the luxury touches you’d expect.

Inside is very nice, especially on our F Sport tester. It’s a lot less bland than models of old.

It’s slicker and more funky, but still has an excellent fit and finish.

And there are some cool touches, such as the speedo ‘dial’ that physically slides to one side when you change display settings on the dash, and the interesting decision to put the drive mode and traction control switches on twisty knobs above the steering wheel, as well as the armrest storage compartment that opens in both directions for driver and passengers to easily access.

It’s a good drive, the power train giving plenty of pull if not spectacular, making 62mph in 8.5 seconds, although sport mode does liven things up quite a bit.

On-paper fuel consumption comes in at 49.5-53.2mpg and CO2 is a low 97g/km thanks to the hybrid setup.

It’s a very comfortable ride and I found it to be a bit of fun in the corners.

The UX really could open Lexus up to a, dare I say it, younger and cooler set of buyers

Prices begin at a pretty reasonable £29,905, rising to £40,335.