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Toyota's luxury arm gives its smallest electric crossover much-needed updates, but are they successful?

The first-generation Lexus UX 300e was a plucky newcomer that showed the establishment that there is such a thing as a credible, left-field alternative with the sort of soothing luxury touches you’d expect to find at a wellness retreat.

But despite being the firm’s best-seller last year, it was no poster child for the electric age. A meagre range was coupled with a disappointing infotainment system and a lack of driving involvement.

However, it seems that Lexus has now addressed this, and the result is the 2023 UX 300e. Battery capacity has been increased by 18.5kWh over the previous version's to 72.8kWh, which boosts the claimed range from 196 to 279 WLTP miles. There's also a larger infotainment screen on higher specifications, the bumpers and lights have been nipped and tucked and result in stylistic changes that need a surgeon’s eye to spot, and the suspension has been tuned for a better drive.

Walking towards the sharply styled £47,495 compact SUV (or £57,095 for our range-topping Takumi edition), you remain open to the fact that while it’s part of a fiercely competitive class, it seems so much better for it because it’s pushed Lexus to refine small details by 10% here and 5% there.

Take out the chunky key fob and the door unlocks with a resounding, damped ‘click’. Jump inside and the perceived quality of the leather feels several notches higher than in many of its rivals, the buttons have a reassuring solidity and the electric windows work almost completely silently. It really is a lovely place to sit, and you have to hunt into the footwells or the back seat to find much in the way of material cheapness.

Lexus ux300e rear three quarter driving

On a full charge, the readout on our test car predicted 273 miles, with an average consumption of 3.5kW per mile – a big improvement on before. If you want to reset the trip computer or check your driving efficiency, the revised Lexus Link infotainment system is quite intuitive to use, once you turn off the irritatingly unnecessary ‘bong’ that sounds when you press it.

Our Takumi-spec car came with the upgraded Pro infotainment system, which brings a 12.3in screen in place of the previous car’s 10.0in display. The graphics are sharp enough and the satellite navigation is easy to use. It's not quite as slick as the BMW iX1’s iDrive, though. It lacks some of the BMW's responsiveness and takes longer than expected to boot up.

What doesn’t take its time is the electric drivetrain. Heating elements under each battery module hasten its warm-up time, so on cold days it’s ready from the get-go.

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Lexus ux300e front driving

Once under way, the Lexus drives comfortably and is happiest at moderate speeds. Dynamically, it’s a slight improvement on the last car, but its limited body control hampers it through tight bends at higher speeds.

You’d never call it throttle adjustable - though, if you enter a corner and plant your foot, the UX's electronic torque vectoring will guide the car in towards the apex more than you were expecting. Of course, driving with lead feet causes the range to drop like a lava ball in ice; so you tend to relax and take your time, matching the brief that Lexus clearly wants to fulfil.

The UX will take the kids to school in comfort and leave you feeling unruffled on the other side. In pursuit of that, the air conditioning can even produce water vapour to keep your skin hydrated. With pliant suspension that rough Tarmac struggles to unsettle, light steering and a smooth, unintimidating power delivery, it arguably fulfils the brief of ‘small electric crossover’ better than plenty of its rivals. A Mercedes EQA may be comparably cosseting, but the Lexus has a slightly higher claimed range, and costs £3655 less in basic trim.

Lexus ux300e front seats

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Talking of price, Lexus expects mid-level Premium-pack cars, starting at £50,995, to be the best-sellers. This edition would be our pick of the range, with PCP deals coming in at around £700 per month for a car with blindspot monitoring, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, an electric bootlid giving access to the EQA-beating 367-litre boot, and a wireless phone charger as standard.

At first glance, then, you could consider the UX 300e to be just a mild update over the last car. But a short time with it has proven that a larger battery, revised suspension and new infotainment system makes an already good small electric SUV one of the best players on the field, because it fulfils the role customers expect, to an exemplary level.


Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Assistant

Jonathan is an editorial assistant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, writing used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

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Anton motorhead 24 July 2023
A couple of days ago I saw the previous version in red which looked rather nice. This facelifted version sounds better if it's also capable of much faster and easier charging. But lo and behold - it seems to have kept a lot of it's physical buttons. Thank you thank you Lexus. I might want to buy one for that reason alone.
jason_recliner 24 July 2023

Lovely little getabout. Yes, it's smaller inside than a Skoda or jail cell (same thng, really) - not everbody is looking for the biggest car!

Old baldy 22 July 2023

No mention of CHAdeMO connector and poor charging speed.