From £29,9506
Electrification pioneer finally goes the whole hog on electron-fuelled propulsion
Neil Winn - Autocar
13 October 2020

What is it?

Compared to the monumental gamble Lexus took back in 2004 when it launched its revolutionary RX 400h – the first car in both the luxury and SUV sectors to feature a hybrid powertrain – you could almost accuse the brand of playing it safe with the all-new UX 300e.

That’s because it’s simply the latest of a handful of similar-sized models designed to capitalise on the rising popularity of both SUVs and electrification. In the past couple of years alone, we’ve seen the launch of various electric crossovers such as the brilliant Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric, Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.

However, with a list price starting at £43,900 and rising to £53,500 if you specify the range-topping (£9600) Takumi pack, you could argue that Lexus’s first all-electric vehicle is a more natural rival to the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2. It’s certainly how Lexus would like us to view “the only all-electric crossover SUV in the premium segment”.

Either way you look at it, though, the UX 300e will have its work cut out. All of those aforementioned rivals, bar the 3 Crossback E-Tense, have a longer range than the UX 300e’s claimed 196 miles, and although a 0-62mph of 7.5sec and a top speed of 100mph are perfectly respectable, they won’t be grabbing any headlines.

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What's it like?

Our press car came equipped with the Takumi pack, with its great-sounding Mark Levinson sound system and larger (10.3in) infotainment screen. But as we’ve mentioned previously about the hybrid UX, we do wish its distinctive-looking interior was backed up with a little more substance. Because although it feels well screwed together, there’s far too much scratchy plastic on display in lower sections of the cabin for a car at this price point.

Despite the UX 300e gaining Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you still have to navigate your preferred system using the fiddly laptop-style touchpad located between the front seats. Compared with the slick touchscreen-based infotainment systems in a Model 3 or Polestar 2, it feels distinctly old school.

The car is, at least, pretty simple to drive and pleasingly brisk around town. Okay, it’s not Model 3 quick, but the UX 300e feels faster than its numbers suggest, such is the eagerness of its acceleration, which is on tap the moment you put your foot down. In fact, if the road is wet, the UX relies quite heavily on its traction control system to prevent its front wheels from spinning up.

There are several drive modes to choose from (Sport provides the best throttle response) and two trailing-throttle energy regeneration regimes – ‘D’ and ‘B’. In the latter, you can use the paddles behind the steering wheel to increase regen, but even in its most aggressive mode, it doesn’t quite allow for ‘one-pedal driving’.

Perhaps if the regen effect was a little stronger, it might make the power in its 54.3kWh battery go a little further. As it is, though, we’d expect to see around 150 miles in mixed real-world conditions.

To handle the extra weight of the batteries, extra bracing has been added over the regular UX hybrid and the dampers reworked to maintain optimum weight distribution, but don’t go thinking the UX 300e is a ‘sporty’ proposition. The steering is accurate enough but lacks feel, the brakes are a bit mushy, and although it changes direction keenly enough, there’s plenty of body roll if you go thundering in to a tight corner. This soft set-up does at least deliver a respectable ride, especially around town.

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Should I buy one?

If you live in a city, are hankering after a compact SUV and fancy going electric, then we can see why the UX 300e would be a tempting proposition. It’s also well equipped, should have decent residual values and comes with the promise of Lexus’s excellent reliability record.

However, if you have a family, it’s hard to ignore the fact that there are a plethora of cheaper and significantly more spacious rivals out there, ranging from the e-Niro to the Model 3. Both of those cars also offer notably longer ranges and have better infotainment systems – and the Model 3 even comes with the benefit of the fantastic Tesla Supercharging network.

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Comments
13

13 October 2020
Ugly, cramped, expensive. Why would anyone buy this instead of... Anything else, really. What a waste.

13 October 2020
Is this AWD? You mentioned the front wheels would slip without traction control but never mentioned if its only front or a weak AWDsystem like the petrol hybrid? Further more, where are the batteries? Is this a properly done skateboard EV platform where the nutters are at its lowest point for optimal center of gravity? How is the battery pack cooled or heated? Does it have active cooling? How the f@ck are you a journalist? Re-do this

13 October 2020
BlahBlah43 wrote:

Is this AWD? You mentioned the front wheels would slip without traction control but never mentioned if its only front or a weak AWDsystem like the petrol hybrid? Further more, where are the batteries? Is this a properly done skateboard EV platform where the nutters are at its lowest point for optimal center of gravity? How is the battery pack cooled or heated? Does it have active cooling? How the f@ck are you a journalist? Re-do this

I was thinking the same - Not much information in this article at all. I'd like to know more about the basic mechanics, and how they compare to other EV's. 

13 October 2020

Am I the only one who thinks that old-school dashboards are nicer? The Tesla 3 looks like it came without any instruments and you had to go to a computer shop and buy a tablet to screw it to the dash, like a rev counter in a 1960’s Mini. The range offered by this Lexus isn’t good enough. The market for expensive 2nd cars is pretty small. Stop complaining about hard plastics. A mixture of textures is more stylish than uniformity. 

13 October 2020

So you can tick an option box that adds 22% to the basic price, 22%!!! That must be some sort of record at this price point.

Remember when then the Giulietta was available with the red paint option from the 8C? I think that was a £7k option, just for the paint!! 

13 October 2020

Harf, I think the 8C paint on the Giulietta was *only* £2 or 3k, however on the Brera Prodrive which only came in black, grey or flat red, 8C was offered as a £7k option.  Only aware of one in existence with this option.  

My understanding was Takumi was a top of the range trim rather than an option and if so then I imagine a lot of equivalent models will likely have similarly large differences between poverty and full spec models

13 October 2020

Shame it is not a from ground up car, converted ICE cars can never be as good, it may well have added 30 miles to the range. Cars come with enough kit already so it is another shame that you can not spec another 20kw for 5k rather than more bling.

Good to see Toyota going the BEV route rather than hydrogen, at last.

13 October 2020

...no it isn't!

This article is supposed to be about the UX 300e which starts at a much higher £43,900.

Like most, if not all, EVs currently available, this car is way too expensive and doesn't have enough real world range.

No amount of currently cheaper running costs will make that up, especially when the Covid-19 battered government and councils remove all the current EV incentives like zero vehicle excise duty and congestion charge immunity.

13 October 2020

This Lexus model starts at 40,900, not 44k.  Interested in when the councils will be removing  incentives, only you sound like you have inside information.

13 October 2020

Asynchronous or permanent magnet?  It can't be both. Which one is right?  Either it has induction motors (asynchronous) or permanent magnet motors (synchronous).... Still at least you got your kW and kWh right so that's a start....

 

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