2022 Lexus UX300e review, road test - quiet comfort, at a price
If there's one thing (among the many) that Lexus does really, really well, it's quiet cabins, that block out the outside world spectacularly well. And the Lexus UX300e just might be the quietest of them all! We hear you shout, "But, all electric cars are quiet!" Somehow, the electric UX is quieter still. It's quieter, despite the fact that it's not based on a bespoke EV platform, thanks to Lexus' obsession with nailing the details which makes for things like the crossmember-mounted power control unit, acoustic glass, extensive foam and damping materials in the wheel wells, firewall, the underfloor batteries, and polished gear teeth in the single-speed gearbox - all to reduce vibrations and noise, including that of water splash back from driving on a wet road! It all makes me very excited to see what Lexus' first bespoke electric car, the recently unveiled RZ, is going to be like but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
2022 Lexus UX300e: What is it?
The Lexus UX300e is Lexus' first stab at a pure EV, but essentially it's a powertrain option for Lexus' smallest model, the UX, which slots in under the NX in the Lexus hierarchy. The UX uses the TNGA-C (or GA-C) platform re-engineered to take the electric powertrain, and extensive use of aluminium body panels helps keep weight to a relatively respectable 1,840kg. That platform also underpins cars like the Toyota Prius/C-HR, and the UX was first available in 2019 with a hybrid powertrain, as the UX250h, and for 2023 as the UXh.
Which incidentally is also being contemplated for an India launch, and seems more likely, but the electric Lexus is still a far more interesting proposition for India. We expect it to be priced around the Rs 60-65 lakh mark, considering the larger, more luxurious ES300h hybrid sedan is priced at Rs 62 lakh, which means it'll fit in well under the Volvo XC40 Recharge which is rumoured to be priced around the Rs 75 lakh mark - a crossover/SUV that's similar in size but is far quicker, with a much larger battery pack but potentially could be too firm in its ride. Which is where the Lexus UX300e could get a hand up
2022 Lexus UX300e: Styling and dimensions
That is if you aren't already taken with how interesting it looks. It's most certainly a Lexus, origami styling, spindle grille and all. Which isn't blanked out by the way, which makes it look more conventional, if you can call Lexus styling that. That could be a good thing, or not, depending on how you look at it. Because the biggest giveaway to its green powertrain is the registration plate, while the 'Electric' badges on the flanks and tailgate do their bit. Additionally, you may notice the charge port lids on either side, with the rapid CHAdeMO port on the left, and conventional Type 2 on the right.
It still cuts quite a sight out on the road, especially in brighter colours and when viewed from the rear. It cuts through the air reasonably well, too. A 0.31Cd isn't quite segment-leading, with that distinction going to the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback at 0.26, but details on the UX have been fine tuned in the wind tunnel. Like the fully-flat underbody, active flaps in the grille, cross stabilising fins on the tail lights, the wheel arch cladding to help control vertical body movements during cornering, or the aero wheels in either 17- or 18-inches, the latter being specced here.
At 4,495mm long it's marginally larger than the Volvo XC40 Recharge (4,425mm) but its 2,640mm long wheelbase is down versus that car's 2,702mm, and puts it in the ballpark of something like a Volkswagen Taigun. For all intensive purposes, the latter is about how large the UX looks and feels out on the road.
2022 Lexus UX300e: Powertrain and charging details
The Lexus UX300e is a lot more conventional under its sheet metal, with a single electric motor driving the front wheels, 204PS and 300Nm, a 54.3kWh battery pack sandwiched under the cabin floor, and a 315km WLTP-certified range. The onboard 6.6kW AC charger will fully top up the batteries in 19hr from a 13A socket, or 8:15hr from a 32A plug. It accepts a max of 35kW, so you won't get the best from a 50kW DC charging point but it's still good enough for a 0-80 per cent charge in 50 minutes.
2022 Lexus UX300e: How does it drive?
The absolute highlight of the electric UX driving experience is its low NVH levels, quite closely followed by how comfortable it is, even on the optional 18-inch wheels. The lack of any drivetrain noise, like in most EVs, is apparent but the Lexus UX300e seems to go the extra mile in cocooning you, those little details we spoke of earlier all coming together to make for a very calm cabin. Factor in the excellent ride quality and stellar bump absorption over most roads, including the flat handling and natural-feeling steering, and it's a comforting drive. The only drawback being the low ground clearance of 140mm, which means you have to crawl over most speed breakers to avoid scratching the full-underbody panels (covering the battery, for one) and potentially ruining the carefully engineered aerodynamics.
Moving on, the single electric motor on the front puts its 204PS/300Nm to good use, delivering strong, linear performance at any speed to build pace well, though the high-efficiency tyres don't seem up to handling all that torque at lower speeds, leading to wheelspin if you're aggressive with the throttle, especially from standstill - the traction control cuts in quite aggressively too, cutting power abruptly and in phases, over some of Mumbai's slicker roads. The lack of traction meant we couldn't match the claimed 0-100kmph in 7.5s, instead managing 9s flat. Roll-on performance is on par with other EVs, if a couple of tenths slower than expected.
That said, our favourite drive mode of the three is actually the most calm one - Eco, where the throttle offers the best modulation, with Normal and Sport feeling a tad sharp for city driving. The brakes on the other hand offer good modulation throughout, with four regen braking modes selectable via the paddleshifters. Strangely, it resets to default within a few seconds of driving, unless you slot the gear lever to the B mode.
2022 Lexus UX300e: Range
Driven regularly in Eco, we saw consumption near the 17-18kWh/100km mark, which equates to about 300-319km of driving range in the city, though you can expect slotting it into B to help, while flooring it every chance you get will result in consumption closer to 24-26kWh/100km, or about 200km on a full charge.
2022 Lexus UX300e: Cabin and features
While its wheelbase is around the same as the Taigun, interior space is a little more limited, especially at the rear due to the low roof, rising window line, and thanks to the batteries under the rear seat and floor, you're sat pretty knees up. There aren't any door pockets at the rear either! Boot space is limited to 367-litres, though it's still 47-litres up on the hybrid UX. If you're a family of adults, the UX will likely be too small for you'll.
The front of the cabin is a different story though, with far more comfortable seats, and more examples of that stellar Lexus build and material quality to talk about. It feels quite anachronistic with its 10.3inch non-touchscreen infotainment with its fiddly touchpad navigation, though it's refreshing to have physical controls for near everything - including climate control, heated/cooled seats, and a heated steering wheel.
This particular car with the optional Takumi pack adds in a a heads up display, and 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio that sounds great in a natural, not over processed way which is again quite refreshing. Though, we wish the UX300e had a proper digital readout in percentage for the charge levels, instead of a repurposed analogue fuel level gauge. Standard safety equipment includes 10-airbags, and a slew of active safety aids though these were disabled on the test car.
2022 Lexus UX300e: Verdict
Ultimately, the absolutely brilliant comfort, flat handling and complete isolation offered by the Lexus UX300e helps you put aside its peculiar foibles, and lack of space. For a smaller/younger family, it could be the perfect electric city car at, or under, the Rs 60 lakh mark, but at prices much higher than that, its shortfalls may prove to be too costly to ignore. Lexus, we hope you're listening.
Photography by Anis Shaikh
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