Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The UX's hybrid system comprises a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, producing a combined power output of 182bhp. It's not a plug-in hybrid, so it can't make a long journey using just its battery power, but if you are gentle with the accelerator pedal in stop-start traffic it will go for extended periods using the electric motor alone.
It's not quick when running on electricity, but fast enough for tootling along in town. Out on the open road, though, when the petrol engine cuts in, it delivers plenty of poke. In fact, it's quicker than a Range Rover Evoque D180 diesel, and a match for faster rivals, such as the Volvo XC40 B4.
Another issue common to hybrids is that the brake pedal action isn’t as smooth and progressive as would be ideal. This is caused by the regenerative braking system, which harvests energy during braking and turns it into electricity to top up the battery. For a hybrid, the UX's brake pedal is pretty good, although it's not quite as easy to stop calmly as it is a car with regular brakes.
It's also a relatively noisy vehicle at motorway speeds, with more wind and road roar than the best family SUVs, including the Evoque. There’s much less road noise than there is in the BMW X1, though.
The UX is reasonably comfortable on the motorway, but there’s a greater degree of fidget over rippled surfaces than in a Volvo XC40. It's also much less able to absorb the kicks and knocks around town from sharper-edged potholes and ridges than the XC40. On the plus side, the UX isn't very tall for an SUV so it feels more stable and doesn't rock from side to side as much as the Volvo, or indeed the Evoque.
The steering is smooth and light, and fine around town but isn’t particularly confidence-inspiring at higher speeds. Body roll is reasonably well controlled but the UX runs out of front-end grip in bends comparatively quickly. F-Sport trim features sports suspension with ‘performance’ dampers and can be specified with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) at extra cost. This system firms the springs up to help the UX lean less in corners when the sportiest driving modes are set but still doesn’t make the UX particularly inspiring to drive quickly. The BMW X2 is a much more agile and rewarding companion on a country road, and there are cheaper options that are just as nimble, such as the Seat Ateca.