Lexus has a long history with electrified powertrains but it wasn’t until last year that the Japanese brand launched its first all-electric car. The UX 300e uses the experience gained in developing battery management systems, power control modules and drive motors to provide a premium EV driving experience. Can it compete with the likes of Tesla, Mercedes and Polestar? I jumped behind the wheel to find out…
The first thing you’ll notice about the Lexus UX 300e is the exceptional craftsmanship, build quality, comfort and quietness. Lexus studied battery electric vehicle (BEV) noise patterns and was able to take specific measures, such as fitting bespoke tyres and wheel arch liners that reduce the noise of gravel and water. It’s whisper quiet. This attention to detail is even extended to the gear stick which has been sculpted by hand.
In terms of external styling, the new UX 300e shares a number of design features with the existing UX, such as the signature Lexus grille, sculpted character lines and a coupe-like roof line. The UX 300e additionally features aerodynamic shutters in the front grille, which, depending on the level of battery charge, automatically open and close, reducing the vehicle’s coefficient of drag to 0.31. When the airflow generated exceeds what is needed for cooling, the shutters close, optimising the amount of air entering through the grille. Also unique to the UX 300e are the underfloor covers that have been made flat and smooth, improving the aerodynamic performance of the underbody structure. T3’s review car was finished in a very fetching dark green - we think it looks incredibly classy.
Okay, but enough about design, how does it drive? According to Lexus “Fun” was high on Chief Engineer Takashi Watanabe’s list of priorities and that has resulted in a dynamic and refined driving quality. This is thanks to the car’s low centre of gravity. The UX 300e also has its own suspension and steering, featuring elements of Lexus’s Advanced Posture Control for a more precise and agile driving experience.
The drivetrain has been optimised for urban driving and features a powerful 201bhp electric motor/generator that gives the car natural yet brisk acceleration. It is powered by a new, high-capacity 54.35kWh battery located under the cabin floor which gives the UX300e a driving range of 196 miles (WLTP data). That’s okay for commuting and short trips but is far below the 267 miles of range (WLTP) offered by the Tesla Model Y.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about the UX 300e is the ownership experience. Lexus has taken an ‘omotenashi’ approach to customer care, drawing on the traditions of Japanese hospitality and service. That means you get multiple charging options: at home with a Lexus charging station, or on the move with the full-service Lexus Charging Network. When fully rolled out, this service will give owners access to Europe’s largest public charging network via the Lexus Link app or an RFID card. Anything that takes the headache out of public charging is a win in our book!