Lexus UX300e: An effortless car to drive, but is it worth the price?

Lexus UX300e: An effortless car to drive, but is it worth the price?
PHOTO: sgCarMart

Lexus' brand signature drivetrain refinement and cabin isolation now have the opportunity to get elevated to another level with its first battery-electric model: The UX300e.

So, just how great is this compact SUV at offering that effortless Lexus drive?

Bushido drive

Well, initial impressions are great. Throttle response in this electric UX is excellent, while its brakes largely manage to avoid that vague and squishy feel that some regenerative systems deliver.

Combined, these qualities alone are enough to make the UX really easy to dart in and out of inner-city traffic with. You get to choose between four levels of regenerative braking via the car's steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, with the minimal setting doing a good job of mimicking a petrol-powered vehicle.

The steering in this UX, though devoid of feel, is also uniformly light lock to lock, adding to the compact SUV's sense of effortless agility from behind the wheel. And that also means you should have no problem squeezing into the tightest of parking lots, despite the poor resolution of that 360-degree camera.

Step hard on the accelerator pedal and the UX300e offers you that electric car-typical instant torque, more than enough in fact, to constantly trigger the car's traction control system, even in its 'Normal' driving mode.

The upshot, of course, is that quick overtaking manoeuvres on the road are always performed in an absolute breeze. And with 201bhp on tap, that surge of acceleration does now let up all the way until you reach highway speeds.

Lexus states that this electric-only UX has benefited from added insulation from beyond its battery, and at speed, the improvement is definitely appreciable, with wind and road noise both well suppressed. The ride in the UX300e is soft, delivering remarkable pliancy over larger bumps.

Origami cabin

On the inside, the car continues to mirror the rest of the Lexus lineup with its excellent apparent build quality. From the way the air conditioning buttons click, to the damping of the signal stalks and the smooth and quiet operation of the windows as they wind up and down, there's a sense that everything here is just well-screwed together.

The dashboard can come across as a rather busy mesh of lines, surfaces and textures, but you quickly come to appreciate how all the major controls are exactly where you'd expect them to be. You get physical air-conditioning as well as seat ventilation controls, and interestingly enough, a CD player.

Another feature that dates the UX's cabin is the 10.5-inch infotainment system, which misses out on the option to be controlled via touchscreen like in the latest Lexus IS. You get to use Lexus' somewhat clumsy touchpad system instead.

The Mark and Levinson 13-speaker sound system, however, offers up astonishing frequency response. You'll be sure to catch all your bass and trebles when grooving in this UX.

Space all around in the UX is sufficient, although lanky rear passengers will find themselves wanting legroom. The seats upfront, however, are a real treat to slump into.

The boot opening of the UX meanwhile, is large enough for the greatest of luggage pieces and a high boot floor will make loading and unloading heavy items from this compact SUV easy.

Zen charging

With a 54.3kWh battery and a real-world energy consumption rate as tested over three days standing at 6.0km/kWh, you can expect to realistically get close to a 300km range on one full battery charge in the Lexus UX 300e.

Charging from a Type Two charger over three hours also yielded a real-world charging speed of 6.4kW/h, close to Lexus' stated maximum charging speed of 6.6kW/h, but a bit short of the seven kW/h most electric cars will charge at from a similar charger. So expect to get just a bit less juice with every charging stop in this UX300e.

And if you don't have zen-like patience, you'll also want to note that the UX also comes equipped with only a Type Two socket, as opposed to a Type Two CCS one.

This means that you won't be able to make use of the SP Group's or Shell's 50kW fast-charging network. A CHAdeMO socket is provided on the opposite side of the UX300e, however, so perhaps more fast charging options for this electric SUV will be available in the future.

Green commuter

And then there's one other problem. While the UX300e may not have a direct all-electric competitor here in Singapore, it is asking for quite a bit at $255,888.

For that price, if you're thinking of going green in a compact luxury SUV, you could get the more powerful XC40 T5 Plug-in Hybrid (at $238,000, all prices as of May 17 2021) and still have plenty of spare change left.

But for the highest levels of Lexus smooth driving ease, comfort and quiet? It might almost be worth it.

This article was first published in sgCarMart.

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