You’d think that Lexus would have the most experience with full-electric vehicles. Since 2005, Lexus has sold over two million electrified hybrid cars (sometimes known as “self-charging hybrids”), with over 130,000 of them being sold in the United Kingdom.
As a result, we have great expectations for the UX, which is based on the company’s smallest SUV.
The UX is no exception to the Lexus tradition of quality. Lexus vehicles are built to the highest standards, both inside and out, with a greater emphasis on comfort than some of its competitors, and the company’s dealerships routinely rank among the best in the industry in terms of customer satisfaction. So, how does it feel?
Despite being substantially longer (4,495 mm vs. 4,300 mm) than the Creta, the UX 300e seems initially compact, particularly in person. This is due in part to the profile. While the front end is big and substantial, the inside is very small and athletic. And what makes it seem even smaller is that, unlike a traditional SUV, it is not bulky or tall, but rather lean and muscular.
The sleek design may not be to everyone’s liking, but it certainly catches the eye. The UX is composed of razor-sharp cuts and wrinkles that are executed with strong, assertive strokes reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy. It has a massive spindle-shaped grille up front, headlamps curved like daggers, and stylized chrome fangs to make it seem even more menacing. Look them over. I really appreciate the Countach-inspired kink in the wheel arches, and the connected taillights protrude in a very intriguing fashion around the back. The benefit of the UX’s low-slung profile is that it is unlikely to have a high centre of gravity, which should make it responsive and enjoyable to drive.
The automobile is also built on the midsized TNGA platform, which will aid in its future local assembly in India. And so that it rides and handles better than a standard Toyota, Lexus experts have enhanced the vehicle’s structural stiffness. In addition to aluminium doors, an alloy bonnet, and a plastic composite rear hatch, like with the XUV700, the UX employs these materials to reduce its weight.
When you open the door, you can immediately sense the luxurious feel. The layered dash, which is mostly completed in black, works nicely, and the surfaces have a rich touch and an expensive sense. The soft top of the dash is particularly inviting; done in a highly techy matt black material with contrast stitching, it seems quite posh. The lengthy piano-key-like buttons have a wonderful satin finish and clack satisfyingly when pressed, while the thick-rimmed steering wheel and hooded instrument panel are reminiscent of Lexus’ LFA supercar. I also like how well the gear selector and vents work.
In fact, the closer you examine, the more satisfied you will be with the interior quality.
Yes, some of the lower-level plastics appear more Toyota than Lexus, and the lack of a touchscreen, instead opting for a clunky touchpad, irritates. But there are some intriguing portions as well. I also enjoy how the driving modes can be modified by rollers on each side of the instrument cluster, the analogue clock provides the interior a refined vibe, and Lexus’ Mark Levinson audio systems go beyond specs and sound amazing, which is a huge plus.
On the interior, it’s not that big. The tight-fitting glasshouse and roof account for the majority of this. There is enough breadth to make front seat passengers comfortable, and the attractively styled bucket seats are athletic and supportive. In addition, the chairs are both chilled and heated.
However, rear space is limited. This is particularly true on the EV, where the large battery installed under the floor ‘protrudes’ into the cabin. This requires you to sit with your knees slightly lifted, and apart from the lack of legroom, individuals above six feet will also rub their heads against the ceiling. Other than that, the steep seats and tiny windows mean that vision in the back isn’t fantastic. When you’re driving, the thick A pillars and large door mirrors frequently hide bikers behind them; and when you have to reverse, it’s best to use the 360-degree camera. A problem is that the slot-like rear windscreen is very small. The boot is also inconvenient. This one has around 300 litres of capacity and is shallow, so it’s not much better than a hatchback.
I initially go behind the wheel of the Hybrid, the more familiar of the two. The 250h is powered by a 152hp engine, a 109hp permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, and a total system power of 184hp. A CVT gearbox connects everything, making the engine sound strained if you go flat on the throttle. The hybrid system, on the other hand, is relatively accelerative, with a 0-100kph time of roughly 8.5 seconds. And, providing you don’t go beyond the detent on the accelerator pedal, Toyota’s CVT operates nicely in increments. At medium speeds, this engine combination is very refined, smooth, and enjoyable to pedal about in a leisurely way. Furthermore, you may pick EV mode for short trips, making this Hybrid the ideal one-size-fits-all answer.
The 204hp EV, though, is more pleasurable, both on the ICAT circuit in Manesar and on the open road. For starters, all of the driving modes are immediately available. Even in ECO, it reacts nicely to the initial press on the throttle, power is given smoothly, and it doesn’t drop off unnaturally as you flatten the throttle. ‘Normal’ mode is even finer and more responsive, but ‘Sport’ mode is the true joy, and that first EV kick simply makes you smile. In fact, if you press the throttle all the way down in Sport, the UX depends significantly on its traction control system. The rate of acceleration does smooth out a little after the initial burst of power, but acceleration remains high and it’s a lot of fun… 0-100kph in a claimed 7.5 seconds. The paddles behind the steering wheel can also be used to improve regen, although the settings aren’t high enough for ‘one-pedal driving.’
There is also plenty of range in the UX EV. After charging for six hours at 11kW, the 54.3kWh battery’s WLTP range is between 300 and 315 kilometres. A 50kW DC charger can charge an electric vehicle to 80 percent in less than one hour.
With its soft and accommodating suspension, the UX is a pleasure to ride. Even on the hybrid, where the suspension absorbs, the travel is enough, and the ride is quite smooth, this is particularly true. Over major bumps, this additional weight might cause some tiny movement in the body, which is more noticeable with an electric version. Also, be aware of the massive, low-slung battery while driving over major speed bumps; it may come into touch with large speed bumps if you’re not cautious.
The UX’s fast and accurate handling, high traction, and rapid turn-in make it exciting to drive on the open road. It doesn’t fit the definition of “sporty.” There is a lack of feel in the steering, the brakes are a little mushy at first, and it leans and rolls in tight turns.
Is the Lexus UX going to make its way to India? Much will be determined by how the luxury automobile purchasing public reacts to it. On the one hand, the UX represents a departure from the usual entry-level luxury SUV. It isn’t as practical, but the sleek aesthetics make it stick out, and then what makes this pair unusual is that there presently is no hybrid or electric in this class yet.
In India, the Hybrid UX 250h is expected to cost around Rs 50 lakh when built here, while the all-electric 300e will likely cost between Rs 55 lakh and Rs 60 lakh depending on local taxes and global prices at the time. Lexus is still testing both versions and working out the business case for India. If you’re seeking for a fun, personalised electric vehicle at this pricing point, you may want to check this one out. Certainly, that’s what we did.