Car Review: Lexus UX300E

It seems like ages ago now, but it was actually only last month when Britain went ‘broke’. There were fuel shortages, delivery driver shortages, petrol station queuing and the general all-round chaos when it came to refuelling was a nightmare for most car drivers.

I say most because as it also happened to be the very same week I got to (very smugly) drive around the UX300e, Lexus’s first fully electric, SUV vehicle.

You could say it was just good timing, watching the envious glances from ‘old fashioned’ car drivers was perversely satisfying, but it also made me think about some of the practical solutions that are needed before adoption levels can reach the levels needed to meet climate change deadlines (a lot).

Electric Avenue
Power comes from a 54kWh battery positioned under the floor and a 201bhp electric motor that sits low down in the engine bay. Obviously, if you buy an electric vehicle you would more than likely get a home charger fitted and with the UX300e rapid charging is possible from 10% to 80% in around 75 minutes. That will be good for around 110 miles of range depending on other conditions, driving style, etc. The car also has a Type 2 connector (on the drivers’ side) and this will charge from zero to full in about 9 hours.

I was ok for just a week. I popped into Tescos and used one of their free charging points and there are several apps
that will steer you towards a charging point close to your location. I also charged it using a volt charger at my gym and if you’re not in a hurry and you have a garage or parking space and a long extension cable you can always just plug it into a regular wall socket. One thing, charging the car fully from empty that way though will take 19 hours, but unless you are doing hundreds of miles a day, you really won’t need to think about it too much.

From a full charge, I found the real-world range to be approx 170 miles. Lexus’s figure is 196 miles, but even this number is a bit lower than some of its close electric competitors, also depending on driving conditions and what things you are drawing power for, eg the heating or the radio etc that figure can vary too. The UX300e is actually happier, range wise bobbing in and out of traffic in urban environments as short runs and active braking regenerates power back into the battery which will mean a bigger range and cruising on the motorway will use the power up quicker. All this is good because you end up driving in a more economical and (nearly always) more sensible way.

I’m a big fan of Lexus generally, all of their cars have a finish and poise that elevates them to something finer than the norm. The UX300e is certainly an unusual looking thing – all angles and defined body and while its futuristic exterior doesn’t quite follow through to the interior, which as beautiful as this Takumi pack version is, seems to be almost like a ‘regular’ car on the inside.

Space aged?
It has got beautiful, plush leather seats and a small, fat squidgy steering wheel but apart from maybe the (added extra) heads up display things are fairly familiar inside. Maybe that’s a decision Lexus made to break customers in gently for the electric revolution that is comings, especially when so much has changed under the bonnet.

Personally, I would have been just as happy to feel like I was sitting in something space-age too. One thing that I’m not such a huge fan of is the info-tainment navigation controls. it sort of reminds me of those pocket games you used to get at school where there was a tiny maze and you had to guide a ball bearing around from one side to the other.

To be fair, t’s just something that takes a bit of adjusting too (like hair loss) and there are also shortcuts on the steering wheel that mean you can pretty much do away with the trackpad thing completely, so it’s not bad actually. It also syncs nicely with my Android Auto App and also Apple Drive so you can use voice control too for a lot of things.

The top of the range Takumi pack (an extra £9k+) on my review model does include a rather 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that is simply superb, the previously mentioned heads up display, heated (and cooled seats) and a slightly larger screen amongst other luxurious goodies.

Space & The boot
The driving position is good, but if you have 2 tall people in the front, the rear space isn’t as big as some of its competitors. the Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4 and Ford Mustang Mach-E all have more space in the back. The boot is decent though and is actually bigger than the Hybrid version. The two sets of charging cables the car comes with are stored hidden underneath a panel.

So what is it like to drive?
Like most electric cars it’s nippy! Not scalextric fast, 0-62 takes a respectable 7.5 seconds, however, I actually found it to be a relaxing car to drive. The steering is nicely accurate, even if it’s not incredibly responsive and it feels immediately familiar. If the top speed of 100 mph isn’t fast enough for you, then you probably aren’t going to be buying an electric car anyway (yet). The automatic drive is complemented by the very small fighter jet gearstick found in other Lexus cars and the ride is incredibly smooth. The suspension does a fine job of patting down even the biggest of potholes with barely a murmur.

It’s also really (really) quiet, I was careful to keep an extra eye open when dropping my daughter off at school because a lot of kids really don’t pay attention at the best of times, drive a virtually silent car and it’s just another factor to consider. I have to mention also the 360-degree panoramic camera parking, it gives you a birds-eye view of the car’s position and it is fantastic to use.

Summing Up
Competition is stiff in this price sector and there are cheaper electric cars with a bigger range, but for me that’s not the biggest consideration when buying an electric car and the UX300e feels like an exciting look into the future for Lexus. It’s not perfect, but there is an awful lot to like and dare I say, love. It’s certainly a car that’s easy to get attached to, especially if the petrol queues come back again!

Specs: Lexus UX300E from £41, 745
Car tested (Takumi Pack) £51,345

Transmission
Type Triple-axis, two-stage reduction
Driven wheels Front
Differential gear ratio 11.691
Performance
0-62mph (sec)* 7.5
Max. speed (mph)* 100
Driving range (miles, WLTP) 196 (17in wheels)
190 (18in wheels)
Electric energy consumption
(combined, miles/kWh)
3.7 (17in wheels)
3.6 (18in wheels)

Drivetrain
Electric motor
Type Permanent magnet, synchronous motor
Max. voltage 650
Max. power (bhp/DIN hp/Kw) 201/204/150
Max. torque (Nm) 300

Battery
Type: Lithium-ion
Nominal voltage 355.2
Capacity (Ah) 153
Total power (kWh) 54.35
Number of cells 288
Charging time 230V approx. 8hr 15min (32A)
approx. 19h (13A)
Quick charge approx. 50min (max. 125A)
Connector type AC input (normal use) Type 2
DC input (quick charge) CHAdeMO
Maximum AC charge rate (kWh) 6.6

Sizes
Overall length (mm) 4,495
Overall width – including mirrors
(mm) 2,080
Overall height (mm) 1,545
Wheelbase (mm) 2,640
Track front (mm) 1,560 (17in wheels)
1,550 (18in wheels)
Track rear (mm) 1,560 (17in wheels)
1,550 (18in wheels)
Interior length (mm) 1,830
Interior width (mm) 1,518
Interior height (mm) 1,109
1,082 (with sunroof)
Wheel and tyre size
17in, 215/60R17
18in, 225/50R18

For more info visit www.lexus.co.uk