At launch the Lexus UX 300e was seriously hampered by a restricted driving range, but with a new battery offering up to 280 miles between charges, it's now much better placed to reward a thoughtful driver prepared to think a little more laterally. The improved electric driving range you now get will be sufficient for most users and there are admirably few compromises elsewhere, which means that if you like the brand and want to drive a premium compact EV crossover, you'll probably like this Lexus very much.
The electric Lexus UX300e (with an advertised 280-mile EV range) is now £2000 cheaper, priced at £1995 Advance Payment (section updated October 2023).
Lexus has been a pioneer in vehicle electrification since introducing the RX 400h in 2005, but back in 2020, this UX 300e model was the brand's very first battery-electric vehicle. It was based on a full-electric version of the Toyota C-HR only offered in China and was the first of a number of production vehicles the brand decided to make under its 'Lexus Electrified' banner.
The marque was certainly well placed in create EVs, having built over 1.6 million electrified self-charging hybrids in the last fifteen years. That means breakthrough Lexus technologies like the power control unit, the battery management system and the electric motor have been tried and tested over many millions of miles. The UX300e though, proved to be a bit of a disappointment in its original form, the early 54.3kWh battery only able to take the car 196 miles between charges, a distance easily improved upon by every serious class rival. Hence the upgrade that's given us the 72.8kWh version of this car that we look at here.
The change from a 54.3kWh battery to one of 72.8kWh in size hasn't increased power: that's still rated at 201bhp. But of course it's done a lot for driving range, up from the previous feeble 196 mile total to a possible maximum of 279 miles, if your UX300e has 17-inch wheels. Lexus has also taken the opportunity to incorporate a few engineering changes. These include fine-tuning of the steering and shock absorber settings to sharpen dynamic performance, while additional spot-welding increases body rigidity. These alterations are supposed to improve the car's responsiveness and planted feel, characteristics accentuated by the vehicle's low centre of gravity and the location of the battery pack beneath the floor.
Chief Engineer Takashi Watanabe and his team apparently engineered this car with driving fun in mind, building on inherently strong chassis rigidity and redeveloping the standard UX steering and suspension. And sure enough, 300Nm of almost instantly available torque spears you away from rest like a hot hatch, 62mph from rest occupying 7.5s. Under the skin lies a Toyota GA-C platform that's much stiffer than the underpinnings used for the Lexus marque's very first compact model, the CT 200h. To balance the EV powertrain, extra bracing has been added and shock absorber damping has been optimised to better match the specific dynamics and extra weight of a full-electric vehicle.
Even so, this Lexus still struggles to transmit all its torque to tarmac quite as quickly as sometimes you might like, the steering feel remains a bit vague and ride quality over poorer surfaces in models fitted with the larger 18-inch wheel rims isn't quite as smooth as we'd ideally like. What is impressive is refinement, further enhanced in this updated model. The engineers have made sure that the thickness and weight of the battery pack beneath the cabin floor will act as a sound-insulating barrier. And they've installed undercovers and wing liners to reduce the noise generated by small stones, dirt, water and the road surface.
Lexus is one of those brands who believe that buyers of full-EV models want their cars to look as 'normal' as possible. So the visual changes that differentiate this UX 300e model from its ordinary UX 250h self-charging hybrid showroom stablemate are minimal. There's a subtly revised version of this model's 'signature' radiator grille, special 17-inch 'aero-ventilating' alloy wheels, different badgework and a sleeker front bumper with smaller air intakes. Otherwise, it's the usual UX design recipe, with flared front and rear wings and a shape that's one of the smaller ones in the premium-badged SUV 'C'-segment, 4,495mm long, 1,520mm high and 1,840mm wide.
Inside, specific UX 300e features are even harder to spot, limited to a bespoke auto gear selector and some EV-specific displays for this crossover's digital instrument binnacle and its centre-stack infotainment screen. According to equipment grade, models are fitted with either eight-inch (Lexus Link connect) or 12.3-inch (Lexus Link Pro) centre displays, with touchscreen technology replacing the previous trackpad control. As with an UX, the interior feels really high end, with design based around the Japanese architectural concept of 'engawa' where the inside and the outside of a structure are seamlessly connected. Build quality from the Kyushu Japanese plant is faultless and top models get leather seats that feature the traditional oriental quilting technique of 'sahiko'. Despite the compact exterior dimensions, the generous 2,640mm-long wheelbase means the cabin actually feels quite spacious, with 870mm between front and back seat passengers, so there's reasonable rear legroom. And a proper boot too, which impressively, is actually a little bigger than it is in the UX 250h hybrid, capacity having grown from 320 to 367-litres - or 486-litres if you load to the roof.
Key standard features include the latest generation Lexus Safety System+ package, which now includes Intersection Turning Assist for safer left and right turns across traffic at intersections; and Emergency Steering Assist, which helps the driver steer to avoid obstacles without departing from their traffic lane. The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control adopts Curve Speed Reduction, which automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed to suit the radius of a bend in the road.
Equipment across the range also runs to Bi-LED headlights with Automatic High Beam, heated, power-adjustable front seats, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, illuminated entry, smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), power steering wheel adjustment, automatic wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels and aluminium roof rails.
Additional items provided in the Premium Plus Pack include smooth leather seat upholstery, heated steering wheel, additional ventilation function on the front seats, heated outer rear seats, smart keyless entry, a wireless smartphone charger, a card key and illuminated door handles with puddle lights.
The Takumi Pack adds even more technically advanced equipment, including a 13-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system, Lexus Navigation with 10.3-inch display, a power-operated tailgate with hands-free function, a 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor, a head-up display, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, triple-eye LED headlights with an Adaptive High-beam System, a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with auto brake. Aluminium scuff plates, a sunroof and 18-inch alloy wheels are also included.
As we told you earlier, the quoted WLTP driving range here is now 279 miles, which is 40% better than was possible from the old 54.3kWh battery and enough to travel non-stop from London to Sunderland or Edinburgh to Sheffield. Bear in mind that as with all EVs, the quoted range figure will drop considerably in winter weather or over long motorway journeys.
You can maximise the range available to you by proactive use of the 'Drive Mode Select' function which allows you to manage smooth acceleration and deceleration, the latter variable by use of steering wheel paddleshifters you can use to scroll through four levels of deceleration regeneration. The charging time for the new 72.8kWh battery will rise of course. For reference, with the old smaller battery, using an AC (200V/30A) 7kW garage wallbox, the charging time was 8 hours. And at a DC public rapid charging point, with the old battery it was possible to recharge from 0-80% in 52 minutes.
By using the provided LexusLink app, UX 300e users can not only check battery charge and driving range but set charging schedules according to when the vehicle is next expected to be driven or to when energy prices are low. The app also allows the owner to remotely control the climate of the car.
Why a full-electric Lexus took so long to arrive is difficult to explain. And why, in 2020, when this UX300e finally arrived, it was launched with such a mediocre driving range is even harder to understand. Still, we've got a much better product here and one the brand can finally sell without embarrassment in its segment. Thanks to the new 72.8kWh battery, we can recommend it at last: and tell you about the way that drive refinement, a feature of course of all EV, has been particularly well perfected here. Plus there's a beautifully crafted interior, impeccable build quality and a collection of exceptionally helpful dealers to ensure ongoing ownership satisfaction. In addition, the convenience of being able to use the 'Lexus Charging Network' can't be understated.
Other rivals can still offer you more driving range. But in other respects, there's a lot to like here. It's all very Lexus. Which means that if you like this brand and want a compact EV crossover, you'll probably like this car very much.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Lexus UX 300e through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Lexus dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Lexus Ux 300e models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: