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.
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.