The first electric model in Toyota’s premium branch, the Lexus UX 300e uses the same recipe for success as the UX but surprises with some of its technical choices. First test on the roads of Brittany.
Finally some will say! After having long favored hybrid technology, Lexus is finally going all-electric. A premium variation of the Toyota C-HR and spearhead of the brand in Europe, the UX compact SUV is leading the way and should allow Lexus not to fall behind in a segment where electric is becoming more and more popular. According to the brand, electrics have already invested 7.5% of sales in the premium segment since the start of the year with a natural upward trend. In addition to the pressure to come on CO2 emissions, we can better understand why the manufacturer has decided to take the plunge.
UX above all
In terms of design, this electric version does not change the very angular style of the original model. Minimal, the aesthetic changes made to this UX 300e are limited to the addition of “Electric” badges at the sills. To optimize aerodynamics, Lexus has reworked its model. Besides the use of specific rims, the manufacturer has integrated a valve system. Hidden behind the grille, it opens and closes automatically to promote air intake but also to cool the battery more effectively.
With 4.49 m in length, 1.84 m in width and 1.55 m in height for a wheelbase of 2.64 m, the electric UX keeps the same dimensions as the thermal versions. The only difference is in the center of gravity, 2 cm lower due to the integration of the battery.
On board, the configuration does not change. Partly digital, the instrumentation is completed by a large screen installed in the center of the dashboard and compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Varying from 7 to 10 inches depending on the version chosen, the latter is not tactile and is controlled by means of a touch pad located next to the gear lever. The ergonomics of the system are not catastrophic but are much less intuitive than a touch screen. A head-up display is also available but concerns only the most upscale finish (Executive).
On the information related to the electrical part, Lexus goes to the simplest. Only the instrumentation benefits from a few changes with the integration of a dedicated battery gauge as well as the display of an estimate of the remaining range and the average consumption. On the main screen, do not expect to find any menu dedicated to electrical. If you want to go further, you will need to go through the Lexus Link app. Free, it allows you to follow the statistics of the car, the state of charge of the battery and gives access to specific functions such as the location of charging points.
With 367 liters of cargo space, the UX electric offers 47 liters more than the hybrid version. At issue: the location of the battery. Located under the boot floor on the hybrid version, it migrates under the seats on the electric, which allows for more depth.
In the rear seats, space is generous and comfort at the rendezvous with two USB sockets and independent heated seats on our pre-production model. Penalized by the presence of the central tunnel, the middle passenger will however be less well off.
200 horsepower under the hood
Like the rest of the UX family, the UX 300e is based on the GA-C platform that the manufacturer has specially adapted for electrics. Configured as a single two-wheel drive version, the Lexus UX 300e has an engine of 400 Nm and 150 kW, or 204 hp. Integrated into the front axle, it announces a 0 to 100 km / h in 7.5 seconds. This is better than the UX 250h which does the same exercise in 8.5 seconds. The maximum speed is however more moderate: 160 km / h against 177 km / h for the hybrid version.
Housed under the floor, the battery pack houses 288 cells and totals 54.35 kWh of total capacity (355V – 153 Ah). Depending on the version chosen, and in particular the size of the rims, its range varies from 305 to 315 km in the WLTP cycle. For reasons of economy, but also to save space, Lexus did not use a liquid-cooled system. Instead, the manufacturer has optimized the air circulation to ensure optimal operation of the pack.
Recharge: the surprising choice of CHAdeMO
On the charging side, the UX 300e comes with an on-board 6.6 kW charger with a type 2 connector as standard, for a charging time of 8 to 9 hours. For fast recharging, the choice of the manufacturer is rather surprising. At a time when almost all of the new models launched on the market incorporate the Combo, Lexus is retaining the Japanese CHAdeMO standard. A primarily patriotic choice that could cost the brand dearly. While it remains compulsory in France, the CHAdeMO is on the way to being overtaken by the Combo, the official standard for the European market. The result: connoisseurs risk turning away from the model. Apart from the practical concerns, it is also resale that may pose a problem in the next few years with the gradual abandonment of terminals equipped with CHAdeMO.
Equally disappointing is the peak value of fast charging: 50 kW where most new electric cars on the market now offer 100 kW or more. For premium, Lexus could have done better!
On the right the Type 2 socket for AC charging
On the left, the CHAdeMO socket for DC charging
On startup, the electric UX automatically activates in Eco mode. The user will be able to select Normal and Sport modes by activating a dial above the steering wheel. While Eco mode is already showing very vigorous acceleration, Sport mode will allow you to reach 0 to 100 km / h in 7.5 seconds. In regeneration, the Lexus electric car combines a “B” mode and the steering wheel paddle system. Practical, this allows the driver to modulate the intensity of the engine braking on several levels. At the strongest level, however, regenerative braking is much less intense than on other models, making one-pedal driving tricky.
In dynamic driving, the overweight of 200 kilos linked to the battery is not too felt. With 1785 kilos on the scale, this electric UX remains playful, its particularly low center of gravity giving it good handling. In terms of driving assistance, cruise control, lane keeping assistance and automatic sign reading are standard equipment.
Reinforced by the manufacturer’s teams, particularly at the wheel arches, the soundproofing is very good. The hiss of the engine is hardly heard, even when accelerating. Nostalgic fans can, however, activate an ASC (Active Sound Control) function that simulates an electric sound through the speakers.
Without competing with the efficiency of a small city car, the electric UX displays decent fuel consumption. Over the small hundred kilometers of our extra-urban test route without heating or air conditioning, our average was less than 19 kWh / 100 km. On expressways, at 110 km / h, we were turning more around 20 to 21 kWh. Considering the size of the vehicle, this remains correct and gives a real range of around 250 km under the conditions of our test.
From 49.990 €
In its construction of the range, Lexus goes simple with three levels of finishes and a very limited list of options. Offered from € 49,990 in its entry-level “Pack” configuration, the Lexus UX 300e drops to € 46,990 after deducting the € 3,000 ecological bonus. Compared to a two-wheel-drive hybrid UX, the difference is still € 9,500 for an equivalent finish.
The electric UX has no real competition in the premium C-SUV segment it covets. Slightly shorter (4.42 m), the electric version of the Volvo XC40 is positioned as its closest rival. Accumulating 408 horsepower and 78 kWh of energy capacity, it offers much better performance than the Lexus model but for a higher price. Billed € 59,940 excluding bonus, the Swedish SUV is closer to the luxury intermediate finish of the Lexus model, sold € 54,990.
Version Equipment Lexus UX 300 e Pack Reversing camera, dual-zone auto air conditioning, 7-inch on-board computer, six-speaker audio system, electrically adjustable front seats and steering wheel, automatic headlamps, adaptive cruise control, queue-keeping system, Automatic sign reading Lexus UX 300 e Luxe – Wireless charging for smartphone, front rear parking radar, leather upholstery, heated front / rear seats and steering wheel, front parking sensors and ARLexus UX 300 e Executive Head-up display, 10.3-inch screen, 18-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, sunroof, 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, electric tailgate
Late on the market, Lexus’ first electric model leaves a mixed impression. If the battery-motor assembly is well sized for a vehicle of this size, the technical choice of CHAdeMO for fast charging is a real nonsense in a European market where the Japanese standard should gradually disappear.
In France, Lexus plans to sell 1,000 copies of its electric UX over a full year, which would correspond to around 30% of the UX sales mix. Given the additional cost of the model compared to the hybrid version, the objective remains particularly ambitious!
The trunk, more generous than on the hybrid version The driving comfort The lively acceleration and handling The presence of CHAdeMO for fast charging The pad for the control of the on-board computer The high price compared to the hybrid version