THE Lexus and Toyota names are renowned the world over for their expertise in developing hybrid vehicles and now Lexus has unleashed its first fully-electric car.
The UX 300e is a five-door compact SUV that boasts dynamic styling, with lots of high-end kit as standard, a decent driving range and a practically-sized boot.
Powered by a new 54kWh battery, located beneath the cabin floor, and with an output of 201bhp, the UX 300e can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and tops out at 100mph.
The driving range, under WLTP testing, is 196 miles between charges.
From a design point of view, the electrified model shares many features with the standard UX car, such as the signature spindle grille, coupe-like roofline, arrowhead daytime running lights and a choice of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels.
Moving inside, the cabin is inspired by traditional Japanese architecture with a very driver-focused layout. The instrument display has been revised to offer all the electric-related data such as driving range, battery charge levels and there is a digital speedo.
Replacing the conventional gear lever is a shift-by-wire drive selector with drive, neutral and reverse options, but otherwise the cabin is clutter-free, modern and very premium.
The level of on-board technology is excellent and our car was fitted with a Premium Plus Pack included in the standard £44,400 price-tag.
There is a seven-inch media display screen with six-speaker sound system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, parking sensors, a wireless smartphone charging tray, plus heated and ventilated front seats with eight-way power adjustment.
Out on the open road, the UX 300e cruises effortlessly at 70mph on motorways and is dynamic through twisting B roads and country lanes with lots of grip. There is a small amount of body sway if tight bends are attacked too eagerly, but generally the car is well balanced and many uneven surfaces are smoothed out along the way by the effective suspension system.
There are drive modes called Sport, Normal and Eco that alter the mannerisms of the vehicle and selecting ‘B' on the gear selector maximises the energy recouped during braking or cruising.
The UX 300e is a nice car to fizz around town in with good all-round visibility and I can confirm the range is pretty accurate too. The car was showing a driving range of 185 miles and I completed a 161-mile journey, arriving home with 11 miles to spare!
With the lithium-ion battery stored beneath the rear seats, the boot size is actually larger than the conventional UX with 367 litres of space - an increase of 47 litres. Back seat occupants do not fare quite so well though and adults will find it all a little cramped, especially if the front seats are pushed well back. But this is the norm in most compact SUVs.
There are lots of cubbies to store away bits and pieces, such as a central bin beneath the armrest, a glovebox, door pockets, front and rear cup holders, front seatback pockets and some handy trays.
There is an AC charging port located on the right-hand rear wing of the car and a DC port for rapid charging is found on the left side of the car, where the battery can be boosted from zero to 80 per cent in 50 minutes. Obviously, using the AC system with home charging takes much longer, but is ideal for overnight plug-ins.
Safety specifications are comprehensive and include electronic brakeforce distribution with brake assist, vehicle stability control, hill assist control along with the Lexus Safety System+ features that introduce pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane trace assist, road sign assist and a high beam system.