What is it?
Interestingly, despite this UX 300e being Lexus’s first pure electric car, the brochure for it still has a page dedicated to the manufacturer’s ‘self-charging’ hybrids. It seems that, despite Lexus finally joining the EV party, it can’t quite let go of what has been its main USP these past few years.
Still, better late than never. This is the fully electric UX (you can still buy a hybrid one), with prices starting from £43,900. Ours is the mid-level Premium Plus Pack, at £47,400. All versions get a 54.3kWh, floor-mounted battery and single, 201bhp motor powering the front wheels. The 0-62mph sprint takes 7.5sec and the top speed is limited to 100mph. Range? 196 miles. Our test car showed 162 miles in mild weather, or 182 miles once we killed the air-con.
Those figures aren’t amazing (the slightly pricier Polestar 2 manages 4.7sec and a theoretical 292 miles), but Lexus says it was a choice between cost and range. All of its hybrids are modular so it could have put more battery oomph in but chose this size as a compromise over a punchier price.
What's it like?
In practice, it’s difficult to see why Lexus didn’t do this before - if ever a powertrain fitted the Japanese firm’s zen-like attitude to driving, it’s electricity. The noise isolation is particularly impressive in this car, as there’s minimal road grumble and the suspension muffles any bumps trying to disturb the inner tranquillity. It’s a very calming car.
Not that it’s slow. The headline figure isn’t captivating, but it never feels sluggish on a journey and also keeps pulling well, even at motorway speeds. Being front-wheel drive, you have to tread carefully mashing the throttle out of a junction, as it’ll spin an inside wheel. Equally, there’s a bit of thump kickback if the steering is loaded up and you hit a mid-corner bump - blame those front tyres for having to do too many tasks.
It’s not an engaging car to drive - unlike the aforementioned Polestar 2 - because the steering is numb and you don’t get much sense of what’s going on underneath. But Lexus knows its market and aims for comfort. In that respect, it does a better job.
There is a brake mode, whereby you can increase the regenerative braking (and with three different settings via the paddles behind the steering wheel), but you can’t drive on a single pedal. The regen power isn’t that strong.
Inside, the electric UX still comes with the firm’s touchpad controller and a digital screen mounted high on the dash. At least the touchpad falls easily to hand just in front of the armrest, but it’s a real fiddle to work accurately and is too distracting to use on the move. To be fair, that same armrest contains buttons for the radio, media and volume so the most common operations can be controlled with physical switches.