Technology

2021 Lexus UX300e review: EV comes with some serious perks


This luxury brand is one of the last to the electric vehicle party, but it brings some handy presents to make the wait worth it.

For a company that started the conversation on luxury hybrids, Lexus has taken its time to produce an electric vehicle. It is the last of the big luxury brands to the party, this week launching the UX300e.

Priced from $74,000 plus on-road costs, the compact SUV shares its body with the regular UX, but instead of a petrol engine there’s a single electric motor powering the front wheels.

That makes it about $22,000 more expensive than the front-wheel drive hybrid version of the same car in entry-level Luxury guise but the EV has more kit, including an excellent 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, 17-inch alloys, wireless phone charging, a powered tailgate, smart-key entry, heated seats front and rear and a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Auto braking, blind-spot warning and speed-sign recognition are standard.

An $81,000 (plus on-roads) Sports Luxury replaces the Luxury’s imitation leather with the real stuff and includes 18-inch alloys, a sunroof and some trim tweaks.

Fast charging across the Chargefox network is included for three years and Lexus will install a home wallbox charger, worth at least $2000.

The UX300e also comes with a weapon other EVs don’t match: the occasional use of a petrol-powered car.

The loan car is part of the Encore Platinum program, which is usually reserved for more expensive Lexuses. The program, which includes valet parking at various locations, allows owners to borrow a different Lexus as many as four times during the first three years for up to eight days. So if you have a trip planned or are heading interstate, you can take something bigger or more exotic, such as the RC sports coupe or LS limousine.

It’s a perk potentially worth thousands.

Elsewhere, the UX300e is thoroughly normal. The only way to pick it from the petrol-powered versions is the badges, including an “Electric” emblem down each side and the additional fuel door for one of two charge ports.

Inside, there’s plenty of familiarity with a regular UX, right down to the “remote touch” pad that can be tricky to use when navigating the touchscreen.

At least the cabin has a fresh aesthetic and surface finishes are meticulous and classy. The front seats are snug and spacious, but rear space is tight.

Lexus has lowered the boot floor compared with the hybrid version, so there’s adequate space.

The single electric motor makes 150kW and 300Nm, the latter delivering perky punch. Sport mode sharpens the throttle for added vigour. It’s able to reach 100km/h in a quickish 7.5 seconds.

The front wheels sometimes have trouble transmitting the power to the road, though. Even in the dry there’s the occasional slip before electronics calm things.

Pop it in B mode – for Braking – and the regeneration when lifting off the throttle can be adjusted between four settings via paddles on the wheel, adding to the driver involvement.

The battery pack beneath the floor and the low placement of the electric motor makes for a centre of gravity 64mm below that of the regular UX, assisting with stable cornering.

The electric UX also disposes of bumps proficiently, delivering the comfort you’d expect of a luxury car.

Grip levels are higher in the Sports Luxury with its 18-inch tyres.

The official WLTP driving range is 305km and charging is done via the common Type 2 plug when AC charging or the little-used CHAdeMO plug for faster DC charging. Home charging will take about nine hours using a wallbox or about 24 hours using a regular power point.

Fast charging isn’t particularly fast by modern EV standards, topping out at 50kW. A 10-80 per cent charge of the 54.3kWh battery takes about 59 minutes, plus another 21 minutes for the remaining 20 per cent.

Lexus offers an industry-leading 10-year/160,000km warranty on the battery.

The UX300e is a competent and engaging compact electric SUV that doesn’t set any EV benchmarks. While the car itself doesn’t bring much fresh to the EV sales pitch, the after-sales extras are tempting for those considering a transition to electric motoring.

VERDICT 3/5

Lexus delivers unmatched after-sales perks for buyers, but its first EV doesn’t set any benchmarks.

LEXUS UX300E VITALS

Price: From $74,000 plus on-roads

Warranty/servicing: 5 yrs/unlimited km, $1475 for 5 yrs

Safety: 8 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning, speed-sign recognition

Motor: 150kW/300Nm. Range 305-315km

Thirst: 15kWh/100km

Spare: Repair kit

Boot: 414 litres



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