That Lexus has taken so long to launch a battery electric vehicle is surprising.
Along with parent firm Toyota, Lexus pioneered part-electrification, launching its RX400h hybrid SUV as long ago as 2004.
Lexus and Toyota believed a petrol and electric motor solution was the way forward, rather than producing a pure EV.
But the world has moved on, and every manufacturer needs a selection in its catalogue.
Especially if it intends to sell new cars here after 2030.
So here we have the new Lexus UX 300e, in essence a full electric version of the existing hybrid UX.
A neighbour has a bright red one, and a good looking motor it is too. All sharp angles and a big front grille.
Our test car is electric blue; another bright colour that suits the UX well. And as we’ll discover in a moment, the angular styling is echoed inside the Lexus, too.
There’s only one size of battery in the 300e and that’s a 54.3kWh pack.
Maximum range is quoted as 196 miles – and six miles less if you spec larger wheels. But is this enough range when a Tesla Model 3 (a close rival in price) has considerably more?
Lexus trots out the familiar argument that its owners on average cover only 29 miles a day in their cars.
It’s a strong argument but an even better one is that more range means more batteries and with that comes greater cost and more weight.
Range isn’t the problem with EVs – it’s the charging network. Boris Johnson’s grand plan to ban petrol and diesel sales from 2030 won’t work without this in place.
The UX 300e costs from £40,900 but our test car features the ‘Takumi’ pack which includes an excellent Martin Levinson sound system, larger 10.3in infotainment screen, leather, privacy glass and heated everything. It brings the cost up to £53,500.
Lexus reckons 20% of customers will order this spec but that the bulk will choose the Premium Plus model.
As promised there are plenty of angles inside the UX. It’s all well made but some of the materials are a bit scratchy.
A touchpad for controlling the infotainment is standard, which isn’t as easy to use as a rotary controller on bumpy roads.
The driving position is excellent and the view out the front is better than at the back due to the car’s small rear windows and a high waistline.
If you have a young family this could put you off.
What everybody inside the UX 300e will appreciate is the silence. The hybrid UX is a quiet car and the 300e even more so without the engine. Lexus has added sound deadening material to key areas to dampen road and wind noise.
The front-wheel drive UX 300e is brisk with a 0-62mph time of 7.5sec. There’s a choice of driving modes from Eco, Normal to the most pointless, Sport.
Behind the steering wheel you have paddles to select levels of regeneration.
A couple of issues here: first there isn’t a level that allows single pedal driving which is a shame; second, the system returns to a default setting as soon as you accelerate again so you keep having to re-select.
Charging is straightforward with a DC port on the left-hand side rear wing and an AC port on the right. Charging from zero to 80% using a public rapid charger will take around 50 minutes.
The Lexus UX 300e is not strikingly good value in this specification and there is a lot of competition with more on the way.
I suspect many sales will be to existing or long time Lexus owners used to both the reliability of its cars (an even greater plus when you’re dealing with new technology) and also the excellent reputation of its dealers.
Lexus UX 300e Takumi five-door SUV
Engine: Single electric motor, 54kWh battery, 201bhp
Range: 196 miles
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