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Urban living: the next big thing is smaller than you think

Lexus LBX

Bigger isn't always better.

As our cities fight their way down a path of urbanisation, we're living in more densely populated spaces than before. The monster SUV will always have its place, but for city dwellers, function needs to be balanced with form.

Introducing the Lexus LBX, one of the smallest cars luxury brand Lexus has ever produced - and one that I predict will soon be the Australian favourite in this luxury car maker's lineup.

In celebration of the launch of this new vehicle, Lexus invited a group to experience the car for a Sydneyside, urban weekend. The last Lexus showcase I went to was all about reinventing the road trip. But this was a true showcase of exactly how you can do so much more with less.

First on the agenda was a yoga class in Redfern. I was coming from the Northern Beaches, and the hybrid-powered engine tackled the one-hour journey with surprising fuel efficiency. Redfern is a notoriously tricky place to find parking and spaces are tight. At just 4.1 metres long (only slightly longer than a small hatchback), driving the narrow lanes and parking the LBX was a breeze.

After class, we zoomed through city traffic over to Darling Harbour. The car, safely stowed in hotel parking, we moved onto a panel discussion on urban design followed by a lunch at Sydney's new W Hotel.

One of the key points of the urban design discussion focused on creating liveable and enjoyable cities, and what we need to do to sustain this way of life. For example, head chef of 2am Dessert Bar Janice Wong revealed that one cacao tree grows enough pods to produce just 500g of chocolate in a whole year. If we want to continue living as we do, we need to look at how we do this by using fewer resources. How can we grow crops using less land? How can we make cities that use space more intelligently? How can our cars transport us without becoming a hinderance?

Following the discussion and lunch, attendees were given the keys to the car for the weekend. This was the real test for me. The Lexus LBX was the perfect compact hybrid for zooming around the city. But I live at the top of Sydney in peak suburbia. The roads are wide, distances are long and the surfaces are sometimes unfinished. Would a small SUV with a hybrid engine be up the challenge?


lexus lbx


On Saturday, I drove from Narrabeen all the way to Bronte for a beach side walk. With the adaptive cruise control engaged, the 28km drive was breezy. Parking on the main drag was no problem either, the car fit into a tight space with ease. The upper models even come with an automatic parking feature, which helps if you're a nervy reserve parker. Then it was back to the Northern Beaches for dinner at St Alma in Freshwater followed by drinks at the Harbord Hotel.


Lexus LBX


Sunday's grocery run was easy, the 360 camera is incredible. You barely have to use your mirrors to navigate a busy supermarket carpark. The boot was roomy enough to hold eight grocery bags and then some. Then it was time for my Sunday evening Pilates class. I made sure to fire up the heated seats and lumbar support on the way home to soothe post-reformer lower back tightness.



After the weekend was over, I'd only used a quarter of a tank of petrol since Thursday night. Even though, I'd driven from the Northern Beaches to the city and East three times. Plus several other smaller journeys. The adaptive cruise control makes the efficient engine, somehow even more efficient. And yet, it had so much kick. I bolted up the steep Roseville bridge without issue.

In the past, luxury has very much been defined by size. A colossal car was synonymous with opulent comfort. But, when you need to go from town to country, from beach to bar, from supermarket to yoga, colossal is nothing more than cumbersome. I couldn't have felt more cosy, nor confident that I was going to get exactly where I needed to go with ease. And to me, that's what luxury is really about.

The Lexus LBX is in showrooms now.

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