From £25,960
Lexus arrives at the EV party with a converted version of its compact crossover

Why we’re running it: To see if Lexus’s first EV can compete with the established premium electric SUVs

Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Lexus UX 300e: Month 2

A small economy decline over time - 30 March 2022

When I was first handed the keys
to the UX 300e, its digital display showed 3.2 miles per kilowatt
hour – a reasonably efficient figure. That number has since fallen to 2.9mpkWh, which means I’m getting 18 fewer miles per charge. Is that the hours spent on the motorway or my overzealous acceleration? I might need to adjust my driving style

Mileage: 5235

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Is this the plush electrified SUV our man has been looking for? - 16 March 2022

It is now four months into life with the Lexus UX 300e and my commute is just as comfortable as ever. The EV has excelled in most environments, with effortless acceleration and helpful regenerative braking that efficiently brings it to a near-stop in crawling traffic and at junctions.

The bulk of my driving is on motorways and A-roads, with short distances in town. It is very good in built-up areas and the compact, precise turning circle proves particularly useful in multi-storey car parks and on roundabouts.

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The UX clearly enjoys being in its natural habitat – something that was confirmed to me after I handed the keys over to Autocar’s prepress manager, Darren Jones, who lives in an outer London suburb, whereas I commute in from the countryside. Darren is looking for a new car and is currently considering a Lexus NX or UX, among other options, and his checklist is clear: it has to be comfortable, electrified, premium, SUV-shaped and ideal for urban speed limits. The UX ticks all of those boxes, I would suggest.

Darren appreciated the Lexus’s smooth, comfortable ride and the spacious interior. Its relatively short range wasn’t a problem for him and plugging in once overnight provided enough juice for most of his week with the car.

In that time, the Lexus proved itself to be a usable EV even without a home charger. Darren used a three- pin socket, which charges the battery at a rate of roughly seven miles per hour. With it plugged in from 7pm to 9am, that’s around 84 miles of charge – more than enough for some short bursts of driving around the capital.

The few negatives Darren reported included the bright-white interior, which he didn’t think was an ideal environment for his young children, especially after a winter game of rugby, and Lexus’s fiddly infotainment system.

I share his feelings about the touchpad. It blends in nicely with the rest of the interior, but even a touchscreen would be much easier to use and safer on the move.

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Unfortunately, that’s limited to the range-topping Takumi model. Darren didn’t consider it to be a deal-breaker, but it’s fair to expect more at this price point.

Overall, Darren described the UX 300e as an ideal premium electric car for low-mileage drivers living in urban areas. High praise indeed.

Not to burst the bubble, but I do have a couple of complaints of my own to report. Evening drives home from the office have highlighted that the LED headlights are angled ever so slightly too high, so I’m constantly dazzling other drivers by accident. Several oncoming drivers have flashed their lights at me aggressively, thinking that I have my full beams switched on. There’s no way to manually adjust the alignment from inside the cabin.

Another slight annoyance is that I have not yet managed to set up the Lexus Link app on my phone. This might or might not be user error, in fairness. Either way, the process should be more straightforward. It would be great to be able to pre-warm the car before my morning commute as the winter weather drags on. The UX 300e’s range is modest enough without having to heat the car for longer than necessary on the go.

Love it:

Insulation The interior is calmingly quiet, with little wind or road noise entering the cabin.

Loathe it:

Glaciation Early mornings are chilly, given that I have the climate control turned off to preserve range.

Mileage: 3994

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Hard to get the full view - 9 March 2022

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Over-the-shoulder visibility in the UX 300e is badly impeded by the door pillars and a high window line, while the adjustable steering wheel is a bit awkward, too. I am just over 6ft tall and can’t quite adjust it high enough for my most comfortable driving position. Thankfully, this Premium Plus model has parking sensors and a reversing camera.

Mileage: 3117

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No pointers on where to charge - 23 February 2022

Apple CarPlay and Google Maps are lifesavers on the UX. The lack of sat-nav becomes especially apparent when the car is low on power as there’s no built-in way of finding the nearest EV charge point. It’s a feature you’d very much expect on a £45,000 car, but sat-nav isn’t even a configurable option unless you go for a top-spec £51,345 Takumi Pack.

Mileage: 2623

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It’s plush and comfy, but its range and charging times are short of the mark - 16 February 2022

So far, life with an EV has been relatively simple. Charging at home is worry-free, so I’m setting myself the challenge to use public chargers as much as possible from now on – something I had little choice but to do when on a trip up to Buckinghamshire. I followed Zap Map to the nearest Chademo- compatible connector, a BP Pulse unit that turned out to need a subscription card. Drat.

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It was a case of second time lucky as I made my way to a Lidl supermarket that had a Pod Point rapid charger – one I could use, as I already had the app downloaded. A few taps on the screen and adding £5 of credit via the app and I was away.

The UX 300e is limited to a 50kW charging speed using its fast Chademo connection, and this particular Pod Point charger estimated around 90 minutes to get from 9% to a full battery.

While I was waiting and enjoying an overpriced hot chocolate, I had a flick through previous Autocar reports on similarly priced electric cars to compare charging speeds. My conclusion was that the Lexus’s numbers are some way behind those of its rivals.

That maximum 50kW charge rate is useful, of course, but competitors such as the Volvo XC40 Recharge can charge at speeds up to three times faster. The Volkswagen ID 4, meanwhile, supports a 125kW charging rate, and even some lesser-priced options, such as the Kia e-Niro, are capable of utilising fast charging speeds of 100kW.

All three models have much longer ranges, too, making the 196- mile Lexus offering appear rather paltry. My parents, for example, have a long-range e-Niro and rarely, if ever, need to charge during the week, thanks to the 282 miles it offers.

Most crossovers are used in towns and cities, though, so those able to plug in overnight and urban dwellers with short commutes or with few day-to-day miles to cover might not notice the difference.

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The closest fast chargers to where I live, however, are 15 miles away, located at a typical motorway service station. They’re Shell Recharge units.

Having to make a round trip of 30 miles – out of the UX 300e’s total of around only 150 real-world miles – reinforced my early sense that this car can be everything for someone but not something for everyone. Especially as not all potential owners will have the luxury of a wallbox at home.

Even with a dwindling range, though, it’s difficult to feel anything other than at ease when driving the UX 300e. It’s supremely relaxing and comfortable, and I’m making good use of the plush leather arm rests, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and Apple CarPlay, which removes the tedium of navigating the infotainment’s remote touch system.

Moreover, those of a nervous disposition can be reassured that the remaining range figure displayed on the digital dials is accurate, if not as high as they might like. Indeed, I’ve noticed that as soon as I crank up the climate control (as one tends to do during the cold winter months), 20 miles of estimated range is knocked straight off.

I did get a scare on one occasion when I parked up for the night with seven miles of range showing on the display, only to restart the Lexus the next (particularly cold) morning and find a solitary mile remaining.

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Thankfully, the car was in my driveway and I had no plans for the rest of the day, so I was able to simply plug it in and recuperate some power. Only a month in and my home wallbox has already saved my bacon.

Love it:

Ride comfort Everyone agrees that the ride is smooth and the seats are extremely comfortable.

Loathe it:

Reduced rear room Rear space is compromised by seats that are too low to the floor. There’s no room beneath the front seats for a passenger’s feet.

Mileage: 1751

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Life with a Lexus UX 300e: Month 1

Convenience is key - 26 January 2022

As it’s the start of a new year, I’ve been going to my gym more, and it just so happens that it has a free EV charger. At 7kW, it isn’t particularly fast, but it’s good for about 20 miles of range in the time I’m working out, so I can keep the Lexus topped when I’m working from home. The charger quite often refuses to release my cable, though, which is annoying.

Mileage: 838

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Welcoming the UX to the fleet - 19 January 2022

If you’re looking for an electric SUV, you’re certainly not short of choice. Across the price spectrum there's the Peugeot e-2008, Volkswagen ID 4 and Jaguar I-Pace, while Hyundai and Kia have set the trend for all-round quality along with excellent range. And so to Lexus, the latest to throw its hat into the EV ring.

The UX 300e is an interesting proposition. Built on Toyota’s GA-C platform and evolved from the UX hybrid, it is Lexus’s maiden battery-electric car and technically the first from its parent company, too.

It’s a low-slung, mid-size crossover that looks far more imposing than its dimensions suggest, and it’s no slouch. Under the skin is a motor producing 201bhp and 221lb ft. This powers the front wheels and will get you from 0-62mph in 7.5sec. Regenerative braking is part of the set-up, although none of the four levels allows for one-pedal driving.

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Initial driving impressions are thus: power delivery is strong and it pulls forward nicely, but the front wheels will spin if you’re overzealous on the throttle from a standstill.

I’m not sure if this quiet, refined thing will be fully at home whizzing around the countryside, though. Ride comfort and insulation so far have been excellent but have made it tough to know exactly where the wheels are pointing and you get little feel of the road beneath you. What’s more, at 1840kg, it’s a pretty hefty car.

The UX 300e’s 54.4kWh battery is good for a 196 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle. Lexus says it’s capable of charging from empty to 100% in eight hours via a 6.6kW wallbox or from 10-80% in around 50 minutes using a 50kW rapid charger.

Significantly, it’s one of just two EVs on sale in the UK – the other being the Nissan Leaf – that uses the Japanese-standard Chademo rapid-charging connector, rather than the much more prevalent CCS type.

The UX 300e courts a starting price of £41,745, for which you get 17in wheels, climate control, a reversing camera with guidelines, front and rear parking sensors, automatic bi-LED headlights and electrically adjustable seats. Meanwhile, behind the steering wheel sits a partially customisable digital instrument display.

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Our car is a mid-range model equipped with the Premium Plus options pack, which bumps the price up to a slightly eye-watering £45,245. Extra kit includes a wireless smartphone charger, smart keyless entry, heated seats (the front ones are also ventilated), a heated steering wheel and privacy glass.

Inside, the UX 300e is lounge-like. As you would expect from Lexus, it’s an extremely comfortable and relaxing place to be. Our car is equipped with white leather seats, whose surfaces I will have to be careful with after a game of football or muddy dog walk.

There’s a mixture of leather-effect materials and soft plastics all around the cabin. The dashboard looks and feels premium, although explore below the centre console and you will start to find scratchier and cheaper-feeling plastics.

The centrepoint of the cabin is the 7.0in infotainment display. This is the same unit found in several other Lexus models, and my initial impressions of it aren’t entirely positive. For one, it’s not a touchscreen (hear me out). Instead, menus have to be navigated via a touchpad and small control unit, which are fiddly and require too much concentration to use safely on the move. What’s more, the screen itself is on the stingy side compared with rivals. The laptop-comparable 15.0in displays found in the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3 might be overkill for some, but this one seems equally out of proportion in a modern electric car.

A larger 10.3in display is available in the UX 300e, but for that you need to move up to the range-topping Takumi model, which costs £51,345. There’s also no sat-nav at this level, which makes the standard inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto a godsend (unless you don’t have a smartphone, of course).

What might prove to be the main sticking point, however, is not the infotainment quibbles but the UX 300e’s price and range combination.

Naturally, Lexus has marketed it as a luxurious, premium alternative to other compact crossovers in the segment, but a competitive range is a luxury in itself that the UX 300e lacks. The Kia e-Niro offers 282 miles and the Mustang Mach-E 273 miles, yet both of them undercut the Japanese challenger on price.

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I’ve yet to suffer range anxiety in an EV, but it will be interesting to see if the UX 300e is capable of hitting that 196-mile figure in reality – and whether I have the nerve to find out on my approximately 150-mile round trip to Autocar headquarters.

We know motorways aren’t kind to EV range, and nor is winter weather. So far, I’ve managed to charge it up to only 186 miles, and on the few times that I have driven it to the office, I’ve rationed my use of the climate control and other electronic luxuries to make sure I can get back home on one charge.

It can get jolly chilly in that all-white cabin and my home wallbox is working overtime from Monday to Friday. Even so, electric motoring is the way to go right now. Let’s hope I feel the same way once the honeymoon period is over.

Second Opinion

When I had a go in one of the first electric UXs to land here, it felt like all the plush, calming cars on which Lexus built its reputation, only even quieter. Ideal for Jack’s M3 commute, but what about when he ventures away from that and outside the urban sprawl? That will be the real test of it.

Piers Ward

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Lexus UX 300e Premium Plus specification

Specs: Price New £45,245 Price as tested £45,815 Options Celestial Blue paint £570

Test Data: Engine AC asynchronous permanent magnet Power 201bhp Torque 221lb ft Battery 54.3kWh Kerb weight 1785kg Top speed 100mph 0-62mph 7.5sec Range 196 miles CO2 0g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Join the debate

Comments
3
Add a comment…
xxxx 2 February 2022

Toyota late to party and you would have thought they'd come up with something a bit special but in the real world pretty much everyone has a better range/price point even the 4 year model 3 which happens to be 160kg or so lighter.

michael knight 23 January 2022

£45k for something the size of an e2008. 

artill 23 January 2022

This is the only EV i have driven. The car is small to be called mis size, but perfectly fine for most people who drive one up, or 2 at the most. It would not be good as a family car. The silence is nice, the performace more than you need in something tall, although i thought that some what of an optical illusion. Its really not much taller than a typical hatch, but the styling makes you think its taller.

It seems set up for comfort more than anything else, and thats probably the right thing. I found the brakes to be grabby and poorly modulated, odd when Lexus have done that so well with the Hybrids for years. Range of maybe 150 miles seems what it will do before you get nervous. Overall i wasnt a great fan, but i will say brakes aside, its a nicer drive than the hybrid version we get instead