How time flies. It’s four years since the stylish Lexus UX was launched. Originally only available as a self-charging hybrid (Lexus UX 250h), a fully-electric version (UX 300e) followed soon after. The UX 300e was the first pure EV from Toyota’s premium brand and a very tidy piece of kit it was, too. It may have been easy to drive, classy and oozing kerb appeal, but it wasn’t perfect.
As the UX was Lexus’s best-selling model in the UK in 2022 and the 300e accounted for 10% of those sales, the car has been refreshed for 2023.
Lexus has listened to the feedback, addressing two main issues. So, not only has the range been extended by 40%, but the infotainment system has also been upgraded.
Additionally, more capabilities have been added to the safety and driver assistance systems, while the ride, handling, refinement and some aesthetics have also been tweaked. The 2023 pure electric UX (Urban Crossover in Lexus-speak) now has a larger 72.8kWh lithium-ion battery (the original was 54.3kWh). Crucially, the range has increased from 189-196 miles to 274-279 miles (depending on wheel size).
This longer range, which we would expect to be 225-250 miles in real-world driving, makes the UX 300e a much more practical proposition for more adventurous journeys – not just shorter trips.
As before, a 201bhp electric motor powers the front wheels (providing up to 221 lb-ft of torque).
The most obvious visual change is inside where the driver-focused infotainment system now boasts a touchscreen in place of the previous (and fiddly) touchpad control in the centre console.
Screen sizes have also been increased, from 7- to 8-inches (Lexus Link Connect) and 10 to 12.3 inches (Lexus Link Pro), and the screen has been moved further forwards so it’s within reach.
Elsewhere, the UX 300e is much as it was before, which is no bad thing. This sleek EV is one of the most stylish compact SUVs on the market. In fact, it looks like no other car in its class with bold, sculpted lines, a full-width rear lightbar, a roof spoiler and that unmistakable Lexus mesh front grille.
Slightly lower than most competitors and sporting a coupe-like profile, it’s full of innovative features including wheel arch mouldings which not only protect the bodywork but also have a secondary aerodynamic function, just like the rear lights and the special alloy wheels.
There’s plenty of room up front in the plush cabin, but it’s tighter in the back than some rivals, nor is there much space to stick your feet under the front seats. Luggage capacity is a useful 367-litres, expanding to 1,278-litres with the rear seats folded.
The cabin itself is stylish, well-finished and very Lexus with superb attention to detail. For instance, the UX’s smooth and perforated leather upholstery has a striking new geometric Kagome pattern, inspired by the Sashiko (“little stitches”) quilting technique, which increases strength and suppleness.
There’s also a new hazel colour option for all upholstery options – fabric and leather. In another aesthetic refinement, the dashboard trim has the look of washi paper grain, as seen in the sliding doors of traditional Japanese houses.
Externally, there is also a new paint option (Sonic Platinum). Apparently, it incorporates a layer just a few microns deep which brings the metallic flakes in the paint into closer and more uniform alignment, creating higher brilliance and deeper shading across the car’s bodywork. It’s certainly eye-catching in the right light.
We tested a UX 300e in the top-of-the-range Takumi Pack (there’s also an entry-level trim, followed by a Premium Pack).
Our car had smart 18-inch alloy wheels and was generously equipped. Highlights included heated and ventilated front seats, a head-up display, a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a 360-degree panoramic view monitor and a rear-cross traffic alert.
Crisp, clear and responsive with real-time road and traffic information, the 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is a huge improvement over the outgoing model.
On the road, the UX 300e seems much the same as before. It’s quick off the mark (0-62mph in 7.5 seconds) and feels nimble in town, helped by light steering and a tight 10.4-metre turning circle.
The seating position is comfortable, visibility is good and the cabin is suitably refined. It also rides well, though some may find it a tad firm.
Despite the tweaks to fine-tune the driving dynamics, it’s still not class-leading. The front end is on the light side and it’s not hard to spin the front wheels when accelerating on slippery surfaces, while the brakes aren’t the most responsive.
Body lean is well controlled in faster corners, but more spirited drivers will not find it hugely engaging to drive. Lexus has tried to spice things up with Sport mode (in addition to Eco and Normal), which is meant to deliver a sharper throttle response and increased steering feel, but ultimately Normal will do just fine. So, the overwhelming sensation is one of comfort and refinement, which is very Lexus.
It’s also possible to switch between four levels of brake regeneration, using paddle shifts on the steering wheel, converting much of the energy lost while decelerating back into stored battery charge.
On that note, it’s also worth mentioning that the UX 300e’s charge times are modest. Yes, it will charge overnight at home if you have a wall box. Otherwise, you’re looking at 80 minutes for a 0-80% battery boost using a 50kW public connection.
Oddly, the electric UX continues to use a CHAdeMO charging port, not the more widely used CCS connector you’ll find on most EVs today, including Lexus’s own RZ. Finally, choose a UX and you’re also buying into Lexus’s reputation for reliability and award-winning customer service.
Like all Lexus cars, it benefits from an extended manufacturer warranty for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first (as long as you service your car with Lexus). So, some rivals may offer longer ranges, more power and engagement, plus quicker charging, but we suspect the new, improved UX 300e will sell well largely because it’s a Lexus.
Similarly-sized rivals include the Kia Niro EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, Peugeot e-2008, DS3 E-Tense and Vauxhall Mokka Electric, to name but a few. However, the UX 300e’s price tag means it’s also up against the likes of the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, which are the next class up in terms of size.
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