The first EV from the world’s largest car maker has a Lexus badge on its nose. The UX 300e is here, and with a fairly reasonable price tag in the scheme of things. Is it the electric vehicle for you?
The first electric Lexus, the UX 300e, is on sale now at $79,990. That includes on roads and so those shopping EVs will know it qualifies for the tax payer-funded rebate of $8625. And those sniffing about the EV market will realise that’s the same price as a long-range Hyundai Kona, a similar-sized compact SUV. So you could get yourself into a Lexus for Hyundai money here. There’s a ‘but’ however and that is ultimate touring range; the UX 300e, with a 45kWh battery, has an NEDC test figure of 360km. Lexus NZ says this is the only info it has been supplied with, and that this (outdated) testing cycle is still valid for compliance in NZ. However, the WLTP range of overseas models is between 300 and 315km. For comparison purposes, the Kona 64kWh has a WLTP range of 484km.
During our time with the UXe, the average consumption hovered around the 18kWh/100km mark, so a 250km-ish range seems more realistic. And so really, only urbanites should apply. AC operation eats range too, 20km of travel the cost of having a chilled cabin on a warm day.
The UX 300e’s charging creds don’t shock either. It uses a CHAdeMO DC connection (the more common CCS not an option apparently) with a maximum appetite of 50kW, a fast charge taking 80mins. A three-pin trickle charger (which isn’t part of the price) takes 24 hours. Lexus is encouraging buyers to install a wallbox, the 32A feed able to refill a flat battery in 6.5hrs. It is offering this to customers from $3140 installed, and you’d be wise to take it up with the rebate dollars. We plugged in with the battery showing 50 per cent charge, and the 8A feed took 12hrs to recharge. We reckon the 250km range is all most city folk would need. Just remember to charge it every night (schedule the juicing for off-peak) and you’ll be right.
The UX 300e has a single, 150kW/300Nm motor turning the front wheels. With 0-100km/h taking 7.8sec, it’s quicker than the hybrid UX, despite a 160kg weight disadvantage. The suspension has been tuned to compensate for the added mass, its special rear dampers developed by Yamaha. The car is covered by the usual Lexus care package of four years unlimited servicing and warranty while the battery has cover of eight years/160,000km.
The 300e offers up decent oomph, acceleration in the 0-50km/h and 30-60 range impressive in that instant electric fashion. An 80-120km/h overtake is dusted in 4.8sec. Expect to chirp the front tyres if you’re too exuberant in Sport mode, the TC light a constant on the dash and there’s some torque steer too. And so the default Normal mode suits it better.
While the steering is a little numb, it directs the UX around confidently. The petite SUV feels planted, and won’t simply plough into understeer when pressed through the bend. Instead the rear end lends a hand, unloading a little to neutralise the push, and so it cuts a more purposeful track through the curve. The suspension, on both city and country roads, initially feels a tad firm but it delivers a settled, purposeful progress that mops up the bumps well, including those pesky urban speed humps. On winding roads, it’s always controlled, with no wallowing or diving, the added chassis bracing and those Yamaha-fettled dampers on the rear clearly doing their job.
Lexus has done something a bit different with the braking regen. The default setting has but a minimal amount, almost nothing at all but you can add more regenerative effect by either pulling on the Prius-like gear lever, or flapping the paddle. But once you’re done slowing, it reverts back to the default. So you’ll be using the brake pedal like normal. While it’s a little sensitive, smooth stopping isn’t hard to achieve.
On size and price, the UX draws comparisons with the likes of the electric Kona, as mentioned, and the 2008. The Pug has better interior accommodations, while the Kona and UX are similarly cosy inside. The Lexus is thoroughly opulent in this company however. As they like to say, the UX 300e is a Lexus first, and an electric car second; it’s not pared back to a price. So expect all the usual Lexus pampering with every touch point a sensuous encounter. Lexus interior styling is incohesive by design but it works, unlike the trackpad-controlled infotainment system, which is a nightmare to operate. The storage might be lacking but the seat comfort isn’t. UX has a compact cabin so it’s definitely one for the empty nester. The rear quarters are tight, especially on legroom. Its luggage toting ability is about average for the class. But while it’s small, it’s packed with kit; heated and ventilated seats, a warming wheel, head-up display, charge pad, and even a CD player for those still spinning the silver discs.
Having to battle shopping mall car parks in the pre-Christmas crush, this was a little gem to manoeuvre around, with a tight turning radius. Though rearward vision isn’t great with its chunky C pillar, there is a good surround view camera and a forward looking monitor too.
Heading into the holiday period, it was never going to be a fit for the family going away however. The likely owner would have this as their city car, with an RX 450h for transport to the bolthole.
One other thing of note. There is an entry-level UX 300e aimed at fleets. That means it will only be available through an operating leasing option and through established sales channels. But the plan here is that once the lease is up, Lexus will take the vehicle back and feed it into the second-hand market, helping with affordability for private buyers in the not too distant future. Sounds promising.
|Model||Lexus UX 300e|
|Battery||54kWh (45kWh net)|
|Drivetrain||single-speed auto, FWD|