Given demand for electric cars and compact SUVs, the 2022 Lexus UX 300e Sports Luxury’s arrival in the Australian market is timely. It’s the Japanese marque’s first and only electric car, making it a significant stepping stone towards a silent future.
While some manufacturers glue bright-coloured bits to the exterior of their EVs, Lexus have slipped the UX 300e into the market without much noise. If it wasn’t for the “electric” badging, you would struggle to differentiate this car from its petrol-powered siblings.
It’s brilliant; it’s not trying to be different for the sake of it. The alluring rear lightbar, creases in the bodywork, and two-tone 18-inch alloys help keep matters futuristic. That said, it’s not a grizzly future, and you can select from a palette of vibrant paint finishes.
While your heart may want the Carnelian or Khaki Metal paint, you can’t go wrong with the handsome Sonic Quartz of our test vehicle. Aesthetics aside, buyers are interested in Lexus for two reasons: build quality and practicality.
The interior reflects this with the balanced use of hard and soft plastics, an ergonomic layout, and plush, heated leather seats. Impressively, there are five colour schemes available for the cabin, including the stunning Ochre and Washi Black combination.
Although it lacks the configurability of Audi’s virtual cockpit, the 7.0-inch TFT gauge cluster is easy to read, and features the coolest start-up animation in the industry. The head-up display is supposedly brilliant, but our tester had dodgy resolution and a choppy framerate.
We’ll give Lexus the benefit of the doubt that it was an issue unique to our test vehicle. What’s not passable though is the 10.3-inch multimedia screen, which is operated with Lexus’ infamous remote touch interface.
Even once you get past the steep learning curve, the system is flawed by basic issues. For instance, neither you nor your passenger cannot input a destination while the car is moving. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range.
The highlight of the cabin is the ginormous moonroof, which helps brighten even the gloomiest of days. The standard 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system is nice touch too, capable of impressing audiophiles with a few tweaks of the equaliser.
Without ambient lighting, the UX’s cabin is more opera theatre than nightclub. As for practicality, the rear seats lack spaciousness, but with ISOFIX anchor points that are easy to locate, are perfect for young children.
If you intend to take tall adults beyond the urban commute, the Lexus ES or NX would be a more suitable choice. While the petrol-powered UX 200 Sports Luxury has a respectable 424-litres of boot space, this electric variant drops to 314-litres.
This means that it has a smaller boot capacity than Lexus’ own RC coupé. Sadly, there is no ‘frunk’ between the front wheels either, as that space is taken up by electric wiring and wizardry. At least it makes for a cool sight though.
If you’re after something a bit more practical, do consider the Kia EV6, if you can get one. The UX boasts a five-star ANCAP safety rating and a suite of the latest driver technology too.
That list of goodies includes, but is not limited to, blind spot monitoring, lane tracing, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert, and yes, you can disable most of these with a few clicks.
On the road, the UX makes a strong first impression. The ride is serene, while the suspension is buttery-smooth. Being all-electric, torque is delivered instantly with no need for a raucous, turbocharged four-banger trying to build boost.
You have one electric motor distributing 150kW and 300Nm of torque to the front wheels, which is more than its petrol counterparts, and all you really need. There’s a problem though, and it lies with that instant torque.
Namely, the UX 300e struggles for traction in the wet, and you can’t ever put your foot down. We could not help but wonder how much better it would perform with all-wheel drive, which should really be standard at this price point.
Also, while the range of 360km sounds like plenty for the average city dweller, it drops rapidly, even if you drive like a saint. This made longer journeys through the start-stop world of Sydney traffic rather stressful.
When rivals such as the Kia EV6 GT-Line and Volvo XC40 Recharge offer more range and similar features for less dough, the narrative begins to fall apart. On a 240V 32A charger, Lexus claim you can top the battery in six and a half hours from flat.
On a 125A ‘fast charger’, you can reach 75 per cent charge in just 50 minutes and a full charge in 80 minutes. It’s no five-minute fill up, but it’s perfect for an overnight charge.
Pricing kicks off at $80,691 in Sports Luxury trim, and it’s covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty. In a vacuum, the 2022 Lexus UX 300e Sports Luxury is a brilliant daily driver and a great choice for young families.
It’s comfortable, well-built and most of all – safe. However, the UX 200 F Sport with all the optional bells and whistles will cost you closer to $60,000, making it a bargain in comparison. If you’re not desperate for an EV, reckon that’s the way to go.
Our test vehicle was provided by Lexus Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Lexus UX 300e Sports Luxury, contact your local Lexus dealer.