Lexus UX 300e
By Bill McCarthy
LEXUS styling and build quality has always been impeccable, not to mention its brand desirability as a premium vehicle.
And as the rush to electrification gathers pace, the brand is in a pretty unique position to take advantage, having been a leader in the hybrid market for a good 15 years, when the RX 400h hit the roads. Parent firm Toyota goes even further back with the iconic Prius.
Now Lexus has gone the whole hog with the compact UX 300e, a stylish car that is now available in full electric mode as well as hybrid.
It has a striking design, all sharp angles and creases with sculpted side panels. It features the now familiar spindle grille, together with eye-catching light clusters, distinctive bespoke 18-inch aerodynamic alloys on this model. In addition, the chiselled-looking rear end with full width light bar gives it a real road presence.
As with the growing trend with full electric cars, it is barely distinguishable from other UX models, with just the word ‘electric’ on the door.
It is offered with single equipment grade, UX, but options like the Premium pack here and Takumi Packs provide additional equipment features.
The interior is typical Lexus quality, refined with high-end leather hand stitched leather seats and finish to dash and doors together with soft materials throughout. Major functions are controlled by a central touchscreen and can also be operated from a small keypad next to the drive selector.
The standard specification includes aluminium roof rails, bi-LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, illuminated entry, eight-way power front seat adjustment, power steering wheel adjustment, seven-inch display, reversing camera, six-speaker audio system with DAB, four USB ports and Aux socket and smartphone connectivity using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Premium Plus Pack here adds smooth leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outer rear seats, rear privacy glass, smart keyless entry, card key, smartphone wireless charger and illuminated door handles with puddle lights.
On the road, the front-wheel drive battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) system uses the latest lithium-ion technology, and high performance motor to deliver a claimed range of up to 196 miles and rapid acceleration from a standing start, so typical of electric cars.
A clever touch is the heating element system under each of the battery’s modules. This minimises the impact of low temperatures on the driving range, ensuring full power is available from start-up.
It hits 60 in under eight seconds, however despite feeling stable, piling on the power causes the steering to snatch, or torque steer slightly.
Otherwise it accelerates away smoothly, with only a hint of road noise intruding into the cabin. The handling is good and it feels agile when cornering, while the steering is direct and nicely weighted.
It also offers a stable ride, with low centre of gravity, thanks to the battery being located under the car body and the electric motor set low in the engine compartment, while new shock absorbers give greater control.
Despite the large battery, boot space has actually increased by 47 litres to 486 litres, when loaded to the roof, which is made easier with the availability of a hands-free power tailgate.
In practical terms front head and legroom are excellent but it is a bit more cramped in the back and three adults might feel some discomfort over longer journeys.
You would expect a hushed interior with a premium vehicle and cabin noise is reduced by the thickness and weight of the battery pack under the cabin floor, which acts as a sound-insulating barrier. In addition, undercovers and wing liners reduce the noise generated by small stones, dirt, water and the road surface, while acoustic window glass reduces wind noise.
Safety kit is comprehensive and includes full complement of airbags Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist and Automatic High Beam
Lexus rarely disappoints and this model is no exception.
Lexus UX 300e Premium Plus Pack
Mechanical: 201bhp, 150kW electric motors driving front wheels via auto transmission
Max Speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Electric range: 196
Insurance Group: 38-39
C02 emissions: 0 g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles