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First Drive: Lexus UX 300e

Signifying the first full-EV Lexus, does the UX hit the sweet spot, asks Jonathan Musk?

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SECTOR Electric C-SUV   PRICE £43,900-£53,500 (excluding PICG)   CHARGING CHAdeMO 50kW  RANGE 196 miles

Lexus has entered the full-EV game with the UX 300e. While the Japanese company has certainly been a leader with its hybrid range, the UX 300e could be seen as a follower in the EV market.

This is where it all gets a bit complicated… At one end of the spectrum, the Peugeot e-2008 offers similar range to the Lexus at a lower price point; some £8k less in top-spec GT guise. And at the other side there’s the forthcoming Volvo XC40 Recharge, which offers more range but commands a mammoth £20k more than the Lexus. More similar, there’s the Tesla Model 3 saloon car, up-coming Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Polestar 2 and Volkswagen ID.4. In addition, offering greater range from a bigger battery is the Kia e-Niro. The Teslas get Supercharger access, the Polestar gets more range but costs more and the Ford can be specified with all-wheel drive – they’re all very different propositions and crucially none is a bad choice. However, some cater towards long range driving better than others.

On that note, the Lexus is pitched as an urban crossover designed with city-use in mind, and this helps explain its relatively small 54kWh battery compared to its immediate competition.

Company car drivers should note that although the Lexus is a few pounds more than the Tesla Model 3, it can be had for less per month and Lexus’ tried and tested reliability helps it retain high residual values with Cap HPI forecasting total cost of ownership at £595 per month, compared to the Tesla Model 3’s £691.

That reliability and quality isn’t misplaced either with the UX 300e getting all of Lexus’ usual attention to detail. There are only two pack choices over the base model: Premium Plus (plus £3,500 and the expected best-seller) and Takumi, which commands an eye watering £9,600 over the base model. All options include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which work well despite relying on Lexus’ famed touchpad.

The UX 300e isn’t about to set the tarmac alight, with performance of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 100mph.

Unexpectedly, the Lexus is capable of remarkable economy thanks to its efficient powertrain and variable regenerative braking. During our test, we observed an impressive average of 5.1 miles per kilowatt-hour. By this measure the UX 300e should easily be capable of more range than its official WLTP figure suggests – at least at non-motorway speeds.

Helping its efficiency is the high-power 201hp electric motor that guarantees it never feels underpowered and doesn’t have to drag itself up hills. Instead it squirms under full throttle as it tries to put down its 300Nm of torque through the front wheels. The suspension setup is on the soft side, which accentuates the car’s luxury appeal. This is no sports EV SUV.

Electric power plays to the UX’s strengths and elevates it into an even more refined crossover with plenty to attract the fleet buyer. While its costs are similar to the competition, its assured long-term reliability and strong residual values are what really stand out.

The Verdict
The UX is a good electric car with a strong business case made without re-writing the rule book, unlike its competition.

The Lowdown
Key fleet model: Lexus UX 300e Premium Plus
Strengths: Quality fit and finish, efficient power delivery
Weaknesses: Range, only 50kW charging

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.