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First Drive

First Drive: Lexus UX300e

The story: This is Lexus’s first electric vehicle, taking the hybrid specialist into new territory with a pure EV small SUV officially capable of almost 200 miles on a charge.
Key rival:Tesla Model 3
Efficiency:Range 196 miles
On sale:March 2021


Lexus has taken its first steps into the world of full electric models with the arrival of its UX300e small SUV. The UX300e is fitted with a 54kWh battery linked to a 150kW electric motor, and offers 201hp and a 196-mile range.

The brand has chosen 196 miles as the best balance between enough range to give customers confidence in the car fitting into their lives, without installing too large and heavy a battery.

The UX300e is priced from just under £44,000 before the Government’s £3000 plug-in car grant is removed, pitching it against the Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus, and below the Polestar 2. However, Lexus claims that better residual values give the UX300e an advantage over its premium EV rivals in terms of monthly rental and whole-life cost.

Standard equipment is extensive, while the electric powertrain is perky – too much so for the front wheels at times, with the UX300e able to trouble the traction control and spins its front wheels at as high as 30mph on wet roads.

First Drive- November 2020- Lexus UX300e- Image 1Lexus has been successful in giving its first EV a decent driving experience, with the UX feeling nimbler and less heavy than some electric vehicles can be. The steering is well-weighted for both urban and higher-speed driving, and refinement is good, as is body control.

The cabin quality is also excellent, but rear-seat space is at something of a premium, although boot space of 367 litres is actually 47 litres up on the regular hybrid version.

But there are foibles. In the UX300e the steering wheel-mounted paddle marked with a plus symbol decreases the level of brake energy regeneration across the four settings, while the minus paddle increases it. And the touchpad-controlled infotainment system is still massively distracting, even versus the worst touchscreen systems. At least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

RVs seem to be good, and running costs are helped by the zero company National Insurance payments that join the zero BiK payments for drivers during this tax year.

paul barker

The verdict

Not perfect, but Lexus has positioned itself well with a small SUV that offers reasonable range, a high-quality interior and a decent driving experience.