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Review: Lexus’ first EV is a marriage of Japanese craftsmanship and quality performance

Electric vehicles are well on their way to becoming mainstream in Singapore. In many countries, they already are.

But with the plethora of options to choose from, how do you pick the right one for your daily drive?

Battery technology levels the playing field for many of the vehicles on the market today. Some prioritise speed but others promise mileage, but whichever you choose, the premise behind these cars are always simple: To make driving an EV just as enjoyable an affair as a naturally-aspirated one.

And that brings us to Lexus. For those who don’t already know, the Japanese marque isn’t just capable of producing devilishly handsome cars like the LC 500. It’s also a long-time promoter and early adopter of the hybrid engine, which comes as no surprise then they’ve joined the EV race in Singapore with a strong contender called the Lexus UX300e. Based on the urban crossover, the UX, the eco-friendly vehicle (and Lexus’ first ever) is easily one of the most exciting developments from the brand. Read on for our thoughts on this electric SUV.

Performance

There might just be one power variant for now — the 300e — but you’ll find it hard to find any flaws this set-up. Using years of know-how from researching electric performance in cars, the marque developed an advanced, high-efficiency electric motor that’s capable of delivering 150kW. A push of the accelerator and all 300Nm of torque and 201bhp spring into action almost instantly, propelling the vehicle from 0 to 100kph in a mere 7.5 seconds.

Range anxiety is also a thing of the past; its large capacity lithium ion battery promises a 300-kilometre driving range that’s more than adequate and will meet most city drivers’ needs. There are, of course, adaptive driving settings to help improve the range while you travel, with Sport being the peppiest of them all. Paddles behind the steering wheel will also allow you to toggle through various levels of brake regeneration, depending on your driving preferences.

The result is a car that’s tidy around the corners with plenty of body lean. The steering is light and the ride is firm but well damped so you can expect a comfortable ride. Its improved suspension is also more than adequate for the types of driving one can expect to do around town. Add to that the sheer lengths that Lexus has gone to reduce unwanted noise, and you can only imagine the zen-like environment that the cabin offers.

As always, safety is a big part of this car, and the Lexus UX300e comes outfitted with features such as Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision System, and Blind Spot Monitor, as well as several parking support functions. A full-colour, heads-up display comes as standard to ensure you’ll never have to keep your eyes off the road during your drive too.

As for charging, it can be done using a CHAdeMO connection for rapid charging or by using a 6.6kW Type 2 with the Smart Charging Home Wall Box connector that takes just over eight hours to fully charge.

Interiors

The interior is typical Lexus, with exceptional build quality. It’s not as fancy as you’d expect in terms of design and flair, but the layout remains to be intuitive with everything placed within easy access.

There is, however, a little setback that tech-driven individuals will face, and that is the lack of a touchscreen infotainment system. The 10.3-inch multimedia display, its DVD player, and trackpad will take you back to simpler times, but — thankfully — Lexus has also outfitted the UX300e with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We recommend using either for anything from picking up phone calls and getting navigation, to picking out tunes for the amazing Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System.

Like most Japanese products, details are still at the forefront here. The leather seats for example, are supremely well put-together and sport sashiko quilting, a Japanese technique used in the making of traditional Japanese martial arts uniform. Even the shift knob — exclusive to the UX300e — sports a satin chrome-plated bezel and is swathed with more leather upholstery, so it’s always comfortable in your hand.

Verdict

The Lexus UX300e is a zero drama EV that will handle all your daily needs without a hitch. It’s punchy when it needs to be, but silent, practical, and luxurious when you want a peaceful drive at the end of the day — qualities not all EVs have completely mastered yet— so it definitely makes our list.

Sure, the compact SUV isn’t without its shortcomings like its infotainment system, but you’ll get the hang of it in a day or two. Besides, its smartphone compatibility is seamless so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on much. The UX300e is like a reliable friend who will always have your back, especially if you’ve had a long, hard day. Just don’t forget to charge it.

Find out more about the Lexus UX300e here.

Shatricia Nair
Managing Editor
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.