The first battery electric model from Lexus is short on space and has less range than key rivals but makes up for it with an excellent ownership package.
It seems that barely a week goes by these days without an announcement from one or another of the premium car makers of a forthcoming new electric model.
In among all this noise Lexus was for the longest time conspicuously silent.
As the luxury arm of global heavyweight Toyota, which gave the world its first taste of mass-production electrification with the Prius hybrid, it seemed strange to see pure electric rivals accelerating away from Lexus the way they were.
This all changed in late 2021, however, with the somewhat belated arrival of the battery electric Lexus UX 300e, the first of what Lexus promises will be a wave of electrified models as it strives to deliver an electrified version of every vehicle in its line-up by 2025.
As with many other brands’ first foray into electrification, the UX 300e is an electric variant of an existing internal combustion powered range, joining a line-up of eight other four-cylinder UX200 and hybrid electric UX250h variants.
It comes in Luxury and Sports Luxury trim levels and, aside from some subtle badging there’s not much by way of exterior styling changes to differentiate the electric from its ICE-equipped stablemates.
Under the distinctively styled exterior, however, is a front-mounted electric motor that delivers 150kW/300Nm to the front wheels in both versions, accelerating the compact SUV from 0-100km/h in a respectable 7.5 seconds. That’s fast enough to make this the quickest UX in the range and to see off Mercedes-Benz’s direct rival the EQA 250, which takes 8.9 secs to reach 100km/h.
The Lexus won’t see which way a Tesla Model 3 went, though, and its modestly sized 54.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack delivers driving range of 360km (NEDC), meaning even a standard range Tesla will motor for another 120km after the Lexus has pulled over for a recharge.
Rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQA (480km) and Polestar 2 (440km) also better the UX 300e for range.
As with other Lexus vehicles, build quality, including fit and finish is excellent and the UX 300e is generously appointed, as befits its range-topping price.
The cabin presentation is suitably stylish and hi-tech, with standard features including a 10.3-inch widescreen multi-media display, and a 7.0-inch colour driver display with colour head-up display.
The user interface of the former remains a bugbear, though, with a touchpad controller that is unnecessarily fiddly.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are among the tech highlights, along with DAB+ digital radio, wireless smartphone charging, and satellite navigation with voice control.
Audiophiles will also appreciate the excellent 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
Other standard equipment includes five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, moonroof, high-grade leather-accented seats, acoustic front-side glass and LED headlamps with adaptive high-beam.
The interior is nicely trimmed and features the sort of attention to detail for which Lexus is renown, including use of a unique dashboard finish said to be inspired by the grained paper finish used on traditional Japanese sliding doors, and seat stitching that emulates the ‘Sashiko’ stitching used on judo unforms.
Interior accommodation is not overly generous, so while driver and front passenger will find it easy enough to get comfortable, larger humans in the rear don’t fare so well.
On the plus side, the 414 litres of boot space is larger than what’s offered in petrol and hybrid variants, and accessed via an electric tailgate.
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.
Out on the road the Lexus is impressively quiet and refined, with tidy and vice-free handling.
It steps off the mark swiftly, with the characteristic instant acceleration EVs are known for and matches this with strong rolling acceleration for overtaking.
There are three selectable driving modes, including eco and sport, but with not much in the way of connection through steering and brakes, the UX 300e stops short of being truly sporty.
A regenerative braking system that puts charge back into the battery when braking or decelerating is also standard, with four levels of braking force adjustable via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Potential buyers will likely compare the UX 300e to similarly priced prestige rivals including the Tesla Model 3, Mercedes-Benz EQA and Polestar 2, against which the Japanese SUV falls short on electric range, performance and driving dynamics.
However, Lexus has ensured its first EV presents a competitive proposition by dent of an excellent ownership package that includes a five-year vehicle warranty, 10-year battery guarantee, and three-year Encore Platinum membership.
The latter includes access to bigger and sportier Lexus models via an on-demand car loan service, complimentary valet parking at selected locations including Westfield shopping centers, a complimentary JetCharge home charger with installation, and three-years of complimentary fast and ultra-fast on-road recharging at selected Chargefox stations.
This is in addition to standard Lexus Encore features like service loan cars, capped price servicing, roadside assistance, and a range of other lifestyle benefits.
With all this considered, the Lexus UX300e should come firmly back into contention for EV buyers who don’t require the extra space and greater range of larger alternatives like the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.