The new up-and-comer vs. the veteran

Japanese luxury brand Lexus dropped its brand-new UX compact crossover at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, challenging established offerings like the Audi Q3 for dominance - but which is better? To find out, we took a hard look at both and lined them up side by side to compare the numbers. Read on for the results.

Continue reading for the full comparison.

Lexus UX vs. Audi Q3 Exterior Styling

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Note: Lexus UX pictured on the left, Audi Q3 pictured on the right.

Let’s start with the Lexus, which arrives to the party rocking the automaker’s latest design language. Sharp lines and heavy creases pervade throughout, carrying forward a look Lexus has dubbed the “Urban Explorer” design language. Standout features include tall, flared fenders lined by black cladding, a feature that rings the vehicle front to back. Up front, the fascia is dominated by an enormous Spindle grille intake, flanked on either side by sharp headlight housings and checkmark-shaped daytime running lights. In back, there’s a set of full-width taillights, complete with LED lighting elements.

Next up is the Audi, which, like the Lexus, gets a large intake up front, this time dubbed Singleframe. Unlike Lexus’ Spindle grille, Audi’s intake is a bit more squared, using a hashmark insert to deflect wayward debris. Xenon headlights are standard, while LEDs are used for the dynamic turn signals and taillights as well. The profile is round and bubbly while occupying the corners is a set of 19-inch wheels as standard. Horizontal styling lines add visual heft, while flat D-pillars plump up the rear end and wrap-around tailgate. Buyers looking for a little extra spice are encouraged to go for the Sport trim line, which gets larger intakes, a blade under the central grille finished in a matching body color, and a stone gray grille insert. The S line adds even more bits and pieces, such as a diamond-pattern insert for the intake, while the Design trim adds gray and silver trim.

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Side by side, the Lexus is clearly the visual outlier in this comparison, setting itself apart thanks to its futuristic, ultra-pointed design elements.

Side by side, the Lexus is clearly the visual outlier in this comparison, setting itself apart thanks to its futuristic, ultra-pointed design elements. The look is sure to get noticed in a sea of sameness from its European rivals. That said, the aesthetic is definitely polarizing, and some buyers might prefer the more understated look of the Audi. Personally, we prefer the Lexus for its uniqueness, even if the Spindle grille and lines can be a bit jarring from certain angles. At the end of the day, we want something that stands out over something a bit bland and safe, even if it could be considered ugly by others.

Finally, the Lexus is a bit longer, wider, and lower than the Audi, all important stuff to remember when considering ease of parking. Check out the exact exterior dimensions below.

Exterior Dimensions Lexus UX Audi Q3
Wheelbase 103.9 inches 102.5 inches
Overall Length 177 inches 172.6 inches
Width 72.4 inches 72.1 inches
Height 60.6 inches 63.3 inches

Lexus UX vs. Audi Q3 Interior Design

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Note: Lexus UX pictured on the left, Audi Q3 pictured on the right.

Take a peek inside the cabin of the Lexus UX, and you’ll find the brand’s latest horizontal design features, with wide vents, a wide infotainment screen on top of the dash, and a color scheme that emphasizes the interior width even further. In addition to all the high-end materials and luxury items, the UX also comes decked out with a selection of infotainment features, starting with standard Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration for smartphone support and connected systems utilization. Also standard is the Lexus Safety System+, which throws in tech like Lane Tracing Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, and Pre-Collision Braking.

The Audi Q3 is also replete with infotainment and technology, such as MMI navigation plus and an available web connection. Driver aid systems include park assist, side assist, and active lane assist. Like the exterior, the interior of the Audi is a bit more subdued, with a more traditional center stack configuration and an upright infotainment screen on the dash. Options include a panoramic sunroof and LED ambient lighting. Helping the load and unload actions is an optional power tailgate. Finally, the Audi Q3 offers 16.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats positioned in their upright position, and up to 48.2 cubic feet with the seats down.

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Once again, the Lexus stands out next to the Audi as the more exciting and interesting styling option.

Once again, the Lexus stands out next to the Audi as the more exciting and interesting styling option. The horizontal aesthetic, the wide touchscreen, the colors and options - all of it looks like the way to go if you want a break from the European status quo.

Lexus UX vs. Audi Q3 Performance And Drivetrain

2019 Lexus UX Exterior
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Behind that large Spindle grille, you’ll find the Lexus UX comes with a selection of two powertrain options

Behind that large Spindle grille, you’ll find the Lexus UX comes with a selection of two powertrain options. The base-level UX200 offers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated with a Direct-Shift CVT, with total output rated at 168 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. In this configuration, the four-banger offers nearly 40 percent thermal efficiency, an extremely impressive number for a passenger vehicle ICE. The CVT also comes with paddle shifters for F Sport models.

Lexus is also offering the UX 250h, which comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with Atkinson Cycle combustion and fourth-generation hybrid assistance, plus eAWD with a rear-mounted electric motor. Power is uprated to 176 horsepower (141 horsepower from the ICE, 118 horsepower from the electric motor, and 133 pound-feet from the ICE). All told, the hybrid provides upwards of 38 mpg combined, thanks in part to predictive software that maximize its fuel-sipping tendencies through the integration of road and traffic condition data. Finally, the UX is built on the new GA-C platform, with a MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone suspension in the rear.

Meanwhile, the Audi Q3 comes with a broad range of engine options for the various world markets, including four gas-powered (TFSI) and four diesel-powered (TDI) options. Output ranges between 125 horsepower and 220 horsepower, while models equipped with Audi’s Ultra technology will return as much as 56 mpg. Quattro AWD comes as either standard or optional depending on the trim level picked, while gearbox options include both a manual six-speed and a seven-speed S tronic automatic. The Q3 is also surprisingly lightweight, tipping the scales at just 3,053 pounds in its most basic iteration thanks to the inclusion of additional aluminum elements. Keeping it shiny side up is a variety of selectable suspension modes, with optional active dampers and optional hill descent control.

2017 - 2018 Audi Q3 High Resolution Exterior
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While the Lexus seems to have Audi beat when it comes to aesthetics, the Q3 makes a strong comeback when it comes to the drivetrain.

While the Lexus seems to have Audi beat when it comes to aesthetics, the Q3 makes a strong comeback in this section. With a nice lineup of powertrain configurations, including high-powered options and some very frugal alternatives, the Audi seems to have the right oily bits no matter your needs.

Lexus UX vs. Audi Q3 Pricing

2019 Lexus UX Exterior
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For now, Lexus has not released exact pricing information on the UX, but did mention intentions to offer a new subscription-type plan in addition to the standard purchase and lease options. Stay tuned for more info when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, the Audi Q3 starts at $32,900 for the “Premium” base model and $35,800 for the better-equipped “Premium Plus” model.

Final Thoughts

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When Lexus UX made its debut for the North American market at the 2018 New York Auto Show, the Japanese automaker said it was designed for buyers in their 30’s looking for a small luxury crossover capable of tackling a variety of situations. While that’s certainly within reach for the model, the Audi would appear to have Lexus beat when it comes the mechanical stats. That said, the blandness of Audi’s design might outweigh the drawbacks for customers, as the aesthetic of vehicles in this segment is sometimes just as important as the mechanical side of the equation.

We’ll have to wait for exact pricing info to make our final decision, but for now, the Audi is the one to get if you want max horsepower and max mpg, while the Lexus is the one to get to turn some heads and get noticed.

Further Reading

2019 Lexus UX Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Lexus UX.

2017 - 2018 Audi Q3 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q3.

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