► Electric Lexus UX driven
► 196-mile e-range, 7.5sec 0-62mph
► Is this the small EV to tempt you?
Who’d have thought it would take this long for Lexus to make a full battery-electric car? Well, now they have with its baby UX crossover – a car Lexus thinks is the perfect place to start its BEV rollout.
Lexus’ European strategy over the next few years is to kill off the ancient CT, low-selling IS and RC coupe next year, and slowly introduce more PHEV and battery-electric models in the coming years.
But let’s focus on this new electric UX first…
Lay the details on me
There’s just one power variant for now, the 300e. A single 201bhp e-motor powers the front wheels, good for a 7.5sec 0-62mph sprint and a claimed 196-mile range from its 54.4kWh battery pack. Lexus says a fast charge will take under an hour via a CHAdeMO plug.
Instead of trim levels like most other Lexus models, the electric UX instead uses ‘option packs.’ All UX 300e models have LED headlights, all-round parking sensors and a camera, a big safety tech suite, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; the ‘Premium Plus Pack’ adds leather, keyless entry, a wireless phone charger and more, while the ‘Takumi’ pack throws in 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, head-up display, a larger nav screen and a Mark Levinson audio system among other bits and pieces.
An electric UX’s list price starts at about £10k more than a hybrid one (after the Government’s £3,000 EV grant) and Lexus says the Premium Plus one will make up the biggest portion of sales in the UK.
Like the hybrid, the rear seats are still a tad cramped for tall adults but, interestingly, the configuration of the battery packs deployed in the GA-C platform Lexus utilises here makes for a larger boot volume in the EV; 320 litres for the front-driven 250h, 367 litres for the 300e.
Any other differences?
Not really. The UX is still a striking looking thing and interior quality is still impeccable. The driving position is impressively adjustable, and you can sit tremendously low in something that’s designed as an SUV. You still have to suffer Lexus’ fiddly touchpad infotainment system, too.
So, how does it drive?
With absolutely zero drama, as you’d expect from a plush n’ premium electric Lexus. Having 201bhp is perfectly reasonably for a small EV, allowing the electric UX to zip away from traffic lights in the usual torque-ful way you expect. Stamp on the throttle and, like a Hyundai Kona Electric, the front wheels quite hilariously scrabble for grip, traction control light flashing frantically.
Chuck it about and, while the chassis itself feels tight, the suspension and anti-roll bars are definitely geared towards comfort; the UX feels floaty when you get a move on, with some gentle pitching and wallowing in twisty bends.
I hope you can forgive my brief road tester indulgence – you obviously don’t drive an electric crossover like you stole it. Merely pottering about in the electric UX is pretty much effortless and genuinely quite relaxing.
Our test car was a Takumi-spec model riding on the larger 18s, which makes the ride border on lumpy. It’s okay, but stepping down to that expected-to-be-popular Premium Plus pack variant with its smaller 17s should take the edge off road lumps a little more. The most noticeable ambience intrusion is tyre noise on coarser surfaces at higher speeds but, otherwise, the electric UX is otherwise remarkably well insulated from wind noise.
Back in the urban environment, you can temporarily adjust the amount of brake regeneration via some wheel-mounted shift paddles or shift the gear selector to ‘B’ to keep it into the more pronounced regen mode. Using either of these options isn’t drastic enough to allow for one-pedal driving in urban areas, but it’s a helpful enhancement.
Anything else I should know?
Lexus UK is keen to point out the electric UX’s competitive financing prices, but you’ll have trouble completely ignoring some of the Lexus’ closest rivals. Lexus points more to the Model 3 and the Polestar 2 for potential UX 300e competitors.
While these brands will not be considered ‘premium’ to Lexus eyes, top spec trims of the Hyundai Kona Electric (Premium SE, £38,500) Kia e-Niro (Grade 4+, £36,195) and Peugeot e-2008 (GT, £35,190) all have similar or better range claims and/or larger boot volumes and, at least in the Peugeot’s case, feel more fun to drive despite being less powerful.
It’s the same with what’s to come; Ford’s Mustang Mach-E – a larger car than the electric UX – has a starting price of £40k pre-grant with more range. Tesla’s Model Y is expected to start at around £45k, too. Plenty to think about if you’re not as bothered by having a Lexus badge on the front of your next car.
Lexus UX 300e: verdict
Lexus’ (soon-to-be) smallest car is a great place to start for offering an EV, and we’d even brave saying the UX makes better sense as one than a hybrid. It’s powerful enough, range is plentiful enough and you’re treated to a small and fashionable crossover with a supremely well put-together interior. But there are plenty of cheaper, longer reaching or more practical small EVs out there for similar dosh.
Check out our Lexus reviews