mReview: Lexus UX300e - Comfort, Control and Confidence
The Lexus UX300e is the Japanese luxury marque's first foray into the EV market, promising an elevated tranquil driving experience like no other.
Ask any car enthusiast what prominent Japanese luxury brands are out there, and we can guarantee 9 out of 10 people will reply with “Lexus”. The marque has established itself over the decades as one of Japan’s finest automakers, being the luxury arm of Toyota and producing cars that are always at the forefront of Japanese design and technology.
Although some individuals can argue that you’re essentially paying for an “atas Toyota”, there’s no denying the prestigious levels of comfort and luxury that Lexus vehicles possess.
Over the years, Lexus has curated a sizeable fleet of hybrid vehicles. They are touted as efficient while still maintaining the brand’s affluent image. Now, the UX300e is Lexus’ first foray into the future EV market.
Their aim is to provide a new choice for customers who are in the market for luxury EVs. So how does this car stack up again the fierce competition?
She's fast, quiet and extremely comfortable
Like all EVs, the Lexus UX300e has an electrical motor, with 150kW of power at your disposal. To make the package even sweeter, it also comes with 300Nm of torque. Because its electric, power is delivered instantly and silently. With substantial amounts of power on tap, this car has no trouble accelerating even while at speed.
Plus, with its compact proportions it is pretty nimble, allowing you to dart around in traffic and overtake with relative ease on the road. Steering is also pretty light lock to lock, and its small turning radius means we had no trouble navigating tight carparks and u-turns.
However, you will find that at times you cannot fully utilise all of that power. As all of that torque is sent to the front wheels only, you will inherit lots of wheel spin when you mash the accelerator pedal, as the car struggles desperately to find sufficient grip. Worse still, the car has too much power for its suspension system to cope with.
Granted, the car is extremely comfortable, as expected from Lexus. The ride is excellent, and the car does a fantastic job of eliminating bumps in the road, while isolating things like road and tyre noise. Even those dreaded construction roads felt effortlessly to travel on.
This comfort is a double edged sword, and the soft suspension is simply not built to corner enthusiastically. Flick the wheel while accelerating hard, and you'll start to panic a little as the car struggles to remain composed. The suspension does firm up a little in Sport, being able to cope with bends slightly better, but don't expect the car to attack a corner at full speed fuss-free.
But hey, we cannot fault Lexus for this, as this car was not built with the intention of driving fast. Think about it, you're in a Lexus. Unlike previous performance models like the legendary LFA or LC500, this car's priority is not to get there fast, but rather in superb comfort. And exceedingly good comfort is what this car can deliver.
Therefore, as long as you are gentle with the UX300e, we believe most people who decide to buy this car won't have an issue with its handling characteristics.
The cabin is a serenity safe space
The inside of a Lexus vehicle is where the brand truly shines, with that “atas and premium” cabin experience.
Everything in the car feels premium and made of high quality, with a rich blend of metals and leather. Even the plastics feel posh in this thing!
Unlike other manufacturers who line the steering wheel in a hard layer of leather or fabric, the steering wheel in this car is soft and smooth to the touch. It almost feels like you're holding a soft computer mouse pad.
You get a 7-inch TFT instrument cluster that is identical to the ones found in the regular UX models. Even the "fuel" bar is the same, with a cheeky nod to this EV being the electrical plug icon.
If you're not comfortable with the modern graphics, the system can revert to a traditional analog speedometer. The car also comes with a heads-up display. The display is chock full of information for the driver.
In fact it's so useful, you don't really need to look down at the instrument cluster anymore, as all of the information you possibly require can be found on the HUD.
For entertainment, the car has a 10.3-inch infotainment display alongside a Lexus timepiece. This timepiece is lovely, and it adds an extra level of class to the cabin.
The infotainment system is fine to use, and most features like Bluetooth and hands-free calls work well too. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available in this vehicle, but you will require a wired connection via the USB ports located inside of the centre console.
The infotainment system is also unique as it supports Miracast. This means you are able to wirelessly share your smartphone's display and mirror it to the car's screen. Waiting for others is now a breeze, as you can indulge in your favourite k-drama while parked.
However, the biggest gripe about the infotainment system is its track-pad. Lexus did put in effort into making something that is modern and a do-it-all, but it's simply not intuitive to use at all. The track-pad makes it hard to navigate the system's menus, and often times even small inputs will force the cursor to jump too far, missing your intended destination entirely.
If you're stationary its fine, but it can be very frustrating to toggle while on the move. To make matters worse, the screen isn't a touchscreen, so you're forced to use this track-pad in order to navigate around.
You still get that familiar Lexus elegance
On the outside, there’s not much that separates this EV from its regular UX counterparts. The exterior looks mostly the same, with only subtle differences. An “Electric” word along the side denotes the car’s propulsion system, and the UX badge at the back has an additional letter “e”.
The UX300e still retains its front grille which is unique among EVs, where their fronts are usually flat to improve aerodynamics.
Along the side, the car’s sloping roofline is more prominent, accentuating its compact SUV body shape.
The taillights form a horizontal bar that extends from shoulder to shoulder. These give the car a more angular rear, with the chiselled taillights forming a “shelf-like” design cue.
Overall, the UX300e has a rather nice form. Lexus designers have made their design language more sharp and futuristic in recent years, and this body shape really complements the regal, luxury aura that the Lexus brand gives off.
Is it a practical car?
For starters, you get 314-litres of boot space. While this may not sound like a lot, it is pretty decent for its class. You also get a kick sensor to open the electric tailgate if your hands are full.
However, the opening of the boot is rather high, and that may pose problems when loading bulkier or heavier items.
Catering to a wider range of customers, the car features paddle shifters that enable you to control how strong you want the car's deceleration and regenerative braking to be. When set to the minimum, it would behave much like a regular petrol car, only having that "engine braking" sensation. This is great for first time EV owners who might not be accustomed to the harsh feeling of regenerative braking.
When driving, the front seats are fantastic. You do get lumbar support and no matter where your hands rest there will always be copious amounts of leather. These seats even come with heating and ventilating functionality, which are lifesavers to combat the sweltering heat of Singapore.
While on the move, the cabin is insanely quiet. It's even more so now that there isn't an engine rumbling away at the front, and sometimes while stationary you can't even tell whether the car is turned on or not. You really feel like you're separated from the world, laying in a private cocoon of luxury.
The rear seats are also a pleasant place to be in. However, you may get robbed of legroom if your front passengers are tall.
Two rear USB ports are located on the centre console for charging, and the centre air-con vent keeps your rear passengers happy. Plus, these seats also come with heating functionality! Personally, we feel that the ventilating feature would be more ideal instead, as it would see more practical use on our sunny island.
The UX300e comes with a 54.3kWh battery, giving you a pretty decent 300km of range. If you’re daily driving, that roughly equates to 3-5 days depending on your usage.
For charging, the car comes with two charging ports, one on each side of the vehicle. The left features a fast CHAdeMO DC port, while the right has a regular type 2 AC port.
Unfortunately, due to this, the Lexus cannot utilise the fast 50kW charging kiosks that Shell or other charging stations offer, as they all follow the national CCS2 fast charging standard. At the time of this article, there is only one CHAdeMO station available in Singapore, located at the Mediacorp campus.
Hence, the unfortunate truth is that with the UX300e, you’ll only have access to the slower 43kW type 2 chargers. With the Lexus touting a maximum charging speed of 6.6kW/H, you might be spending quite a bit of time waiting for it to get juiced up again.
Are you willing to wait for it?
With all that’s said and done, this puts the Lexus UX300e in a tough spot. On one hand, it is fantastic to drive, offering immense comfort and a premium ambience to your commute. However, on the other hand its limited charging access may prove to be its Achilles heel, potentially becoming a major source of range anxiety. Would you want to travel to Mediacorp just to get that fast charge? Realistically, we doubt so.
If you’re someone who has ready access to a convenient charging port, or someone who doesn’t mind waiting long hours while your car is being topped off, then we can highly recommend this car. It really sets a high standard for premium EVs, and you get all of the good Lexus benefits as well.
However, if you’re someone who doesn’t fall into either category but is still in the market for an EV, then maybe you can give this car a pass. Or get the hybrid version.
Electric Motor: Permanent-magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM), Front-wheel Drive
Power: 150kW (201bhp)
Battery Consumption: 15.0kWh/100km
Top Speed: 160km/h
0-100km/h: 7.5 seconds
Brakes (Front & Rear): Ventilated Disc
VES Banding: A1
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,495mm x 1,840mm x 1,545mm
Battery Capacity: 54.3 kWh
Boot Capacity: 314 litres
Adaptive Cruise Control
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Electric Steering Wheel
Heated Front & Rear Seats
Mark Levinson Premium Sound System
Rain Sensing Wipers
Ventilated Front Seats
Wireless Smartphone Charger
CHAdeMO DC (50kW)
Type 2 AC (6.6kW)
4 USB Ports (2 Front, 2 Rear)
7-inch Digital Speedometer
10.3-inch Infotainment Display
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