Lexus confirms UX 300e as its first Australian EV

Luxury brand Lexus hops aboard the electric vehicle bandwagon with new luxury compact SUV, the UX 300e.

Japanese luxury brand Lexus has confirmed that the new Lexus UX 300e will be the brand's first battery electric vehicle (BEV), with a targeted on-sale date of November 2021.

Available in two trim levels, the UX 300e is positioned as a luxury compact SUV and will join the existing line-up of four-cylinder petrol and petrol-hybrid UX models, expanding the range to 10 variants, with the choice of petrol, hybrid-electric and full electric powertrains.

The UX 300e may be the first Lexus BEV, but in a statement announcing the new model’s release date, the company pointed to its more than 15 years of experience in electric motor, battery, and inverter technology through its long-standing commitment to hybrid technology.

The UX 300e will be offered in Luxury and Sports Luxury grades with both variants powered by an electric motor delivering 150kW/300Nm and capable of accelerating from zero to 100km/h in just 7.5 seconds.

As well as being the fastest UX model, Lexus has also indicated the EV will be the best handling, thanks to the under-floor location of the 54.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which lowers the centre of gravity, improves torsional rigidity and improves dynamics.

The front-axle-mounted electric motor is also placed lower in the engine bay and is about half the weight of a conventional petrol engine, according to Lexus.

Driving range on the European (NEDC) cycle is 360km, considerably more than the recently launched Mazda MX-30 (224km), but short of both the Hyundai Kona EV (484km) and Kia Nero (455km).

Lexus EV model, UX300e.

Perhaps a more appropriate prestige-brand rival for the luxury Lexus is the new Polestar 2, which will offer a range of between 440-540km depending on model variant, when it when it goes on sale in January 2022.

Like most EV makers, Lexus has deployed various aerodynamic enhancements to maximise the new UX 300e driving range.

These include grille shutters, underbody covers and aerodynamically optimised wheels.

It also boasts regenerative braking that can be adjusted via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters with four levels of braking force available when the accelerator is lifted.

This and other EV-specific information is displayed on the car’s standard 7.0-inch colour driver display screen.

Even the “entry-level” UX 300e Luxury is generously equipped with standard features that Lexus says match its established UX 250h Luxury model, when fitted with optional Enhancement Pack.

Lexus EV model, UX300e.

This includes LED headlamps and foglamps, smart entry and start, power operated tailgate, power adjustable steering column, eight-way power adjustable front seats, 10.3-inch display screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, DAB+ digital radio and wireless smartphone charging.

Also standard on the UX 300e Luxury are 17-inch alloy wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

The flagship UX 300e Sports Luxury gets 18-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, acoustic front-side glass and tri-beam LED headlamps with an adaptive high-beam system.

This model also features 3D-look illumination inside each front air vent bezel, as well as a unique dashboard finish which Lexus says is inspired by the grained paper finish used on traditional sliding doors found in Japanese homes, called Washi.

The Sports Luxury also features a colour head-up display, panoramic view monitor, high-grade leather-accented seats, and high-grade finishes for the door garnish, instrument panel cluster and console box cover.

Lexus EV model, UX300e.

Standard safety features on both UX EV models include a pre-collision system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, all-speed radar active cruise control, lane trace assist, road sign assist, rear cross-traffic alert and parking support brake with obstacle and vehicle detection.

This is in addition to a blind-spot monitor, automatic high beam, front and rear parking sensors and eight airbags.

There are no pricing details yet available, but looking at the price points for the rest of the UX range it’s possible to speculate that the UX 300e Luxury will be priced between $60-$65k while the Sports Luxury will be priced between $65-$75k.

Lexus is promising more details on pricing and rapid charging information, plus what it calls a “a class-leading ownership experience”, at the car’s November launch.