28.6.2021Lexus UX300e review
The Lexus UX 300e is the first pure-electric model from Toyota’s luxury arm - or indeed Toyota’s car business full-stop. Based on the UX crossover, where initially the compact model was a hybrid-only option, the electric element of that powertrain has now fully taken over. A range of almost 200 miles is promised on a charge, with performance to compete against what is becoming a crowded electric crossover market.
Review by Chris Lilly
LEXUS UX 300E: PERFORMANCE
Performance is good from the UX 300e, but it’s not going to blow anyone away. The 0-62 mph time of 7.5 seconds gives an indication as to where the Lexus is pitched. It’s sprightly, but not rapid. The response is excellent as you might expect from an EV, and the 150 kW motor pulls nicely all the way to the national speed limit.
It’s got enough pace to nip around town, run up steep hills, and cover cross-country blasts, but it also settles nicely at higher speeds. Not the best electric powertrain on the market, but a good all-rounder.
The ‘normal’ UX handles decently, and again produces a Jack-of-all-trades set-up. It’s as happy being spun about multi-storey car parks as it is on an open A-road, and the steering is well engineered to match the set up of the springs. The suspension is hard, but not too much so, and body roll is kept under control, despite the crossover proportions.
The battery’s positioning helps with this centre of gravity issue, but as I say, the UX handles nicely even in hybrid specification. Steering is precise and sharp, but not overly so. It’s still a comfortable car to drive, and although there are more dynamic crossovers around, it’s still a nice car to drive in all sorts of conditions.
Lexus is certainly in a sweet spot with its styling at the moment, and the UX forms part of that success. It’s sharp, edgy, and interesting, but not too much to put buyers off. Certainly different from other premium European manufacturers, but without going too far. The UX is well proportioned, and a crossover at the compact end of the spectrum.
Its four-square stance and angular design help make positioning the car easy, but it’s not the best news for interior space. If you need a practical SUV, there are better on the market. For those only occasionally using the rear seats for people, or for young families, the UX has enough space to deal with daily life. Boot space is small, as is leg and head space in the rear seats.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
If there’s one thing that Lexus consistently does well, it’s interior comfort. Even on this entry-level model to the Lexus range, the UX still has supportive yet comfortable seat up front, and a decent pew in the back for those that venture there. Controls vary from excellent to frustrating.
Most elements work well, but Lexus uses a touchpad with haptic feedback to control its infotainment system, and it’s simply not as good as a rotary dial, touchscreen system, or even the likes of Mercedes Benz’s touchpad. Away from that, the UX 300e’s controls work nicely, if styled a little unimaginatively; apart from the ‘stalks’ that come out from the instrument binnacle, which look great too. Materials used throughout are very good, and par for the premium compact SUV market.
LEXUS UX 300E: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
The official driving range figure for the UX 300e is as good as 196 miles on a charge, though the model tested sees that drop down to 190 miles because its on 18-inch alloys. In reality, I was getting a little over 150 miles out of a charge from the 54 kWh battery, though many buyers won’t be on faster rural roads and dual carriageways as much as the Lexus was under my care.
From calculations in town work, and balancing out a fairer route type, I’d anticipate that 160 miles would be comfortable out of a charge, and 170 miles if keeping the car on urban routes more. It’s a decent figure, and one that will comfortably cover the daily needs of most drivers. It’s also about as far as the similarly sized - though less premium - crossovers from Peugeot and Vauxhall will achieve. Bear in mind that a Hyundai Kona Electric will cover almost twice that distance on one charge.
Charging the Lexus is almost curious these days, since it comes with a CHAdeMO inlet - the first I’ve seen on a new car since the second-generation Nissan Leaf was launched about three years ago. Like the Leaf, the Japanese firm is sticking to regional CHAdeMO standards, despite opting for a Type 2 inlet for AC charging.
Using the DC CHAdeMO inlet will allow drivers to charge from 10% to 80% in around 50 minutes, or charging on AC at up to 6.6 kW will take about eight hours on a 7 kW unit. Charging inlets are accessed via flaps on either rear flanks, where you would commonly find a fuel filler flap. One side houses the DC system, and the other the AC.
The Lexus IS unusual too in terms of its brake energy recuperation set-up. There are a variety of settings, and these can be controlled using the paddles on the steering wheel, moving up and down to differ the braking strength Unusually, D sits in the middle of the settings, with D- and D- - available, as well as D+ and D+ +. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it works well, just a different approach to most manufacturers. Other features include driving modes such as Eco, Normal, and Sport, and the ability to set charger times, pre-conditioning etc.
There is one core UX 300e trim, with the option to then add one of two packs to it - Premium Plus or Takumi. Fitted as standard are 17-inch alloys, 7-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Lexus Link connected services, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, automatic wipers, electric front seats, leather steering wheel with paddles, dual-zone climate control, Lexus Safety System+, and drive mode select.
Premium Plus pack tested adds keyless entry and start, a heated steering wheel, heated seats and vented front seats, leather upholstery, and wireless phone charger. Takumi includes navigation and a 10.3-inch infotainment system, a 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, 18-inch alloys, head-up display, LED headlights, sunroof, hands-free powered tailgate, and 360-degree camera.
LEXUS UX 300E: MODEL SUMMARY
The Lexus UX 300e is a nice car to drive, offers a decent range, and ample performance. Some will want more range and/or faster charging - though only really those regularly travelling long distances - and the compact interior will not suit others, but overall the Lexus UX 300e is a refined compact SUV.
Model tested: Lexus UX 300e Premium Plus Pack
Body-style: Premium compact SUV
Engine / CO2: 150 kW electric motor / 0 g/km
Trim grades: UX 300e, UX 300e with Premium Pack, and UX 300e with Takumi Pack
On-road price: From £43,900. Price as tested: £48,150
Warranty: Three year / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars