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Lexus’ first EV is an urban crossover, Australia likely

John Law

The unveiling of Lexus’ innovative LF-30 concept at last month’s Tokyo Motor Show was accompanied by the promise of the brand’s first ever production battery electric vehicle, and here it is, as a 300e variant of the chic UX crossover.

The UX 300e had its covers lifted in Guangzhou, China, where the electric UX will first go on sale in 2020 in a growing market in which Lexus is hoping to make serious sales in-roads. However, there is no official word the the electrified crossover will reach Australia.

Think of the UX 300e as a premium take on the Hyundai Kona Electric, while offering a greener option than traditional competitors like the BMW X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.

2020 Lexus UX 300e - 2

With access and know-how from Toyota’s hybrid technology, Lexus has been somewhat of a pioneer in the green SUV segment, bringing the hybrid RX 400h to market back in 2005 to impressive critical reception. 

However, when Chasing Cars had a chance to sit down with Lexus designer Ian Cartabiano, the suggestion was that EVs should “employ radical new body shapes”, so it’s strange the first battery electric vehicle from the brand has adopted the shape of an urban crossover.

Powering the UX 300e is a front-mounted electric motor, with outputs of 150kW and 300Nm, not exactly Tesla troubling, but Lexus claim they wanted acceleration that felt natural and matched to ICE variants for the UX.

2020 Lexus UX 300e - 6

Range will be sufficient for the UX 300e’s stomping ground, with 54.3kWh of batteries beneath the floor said to provide 400km of range. Fast-charging is possible at a 50kW capacity, bringing the 300e back to full charge in 50 minutes. Plugging into a home outlet will see a full charge in seven hours.

As with the internal combustion variants, we reckon the UX 300e looks great from the outside, especially the sharp creases on the boot. The only notable changes being more aerodynamic wheels fitted to the battery-powered variant.

The UX 300e will be equipped with selectable drive mode to adjust throttle response and steering weight, with regenerative braking strength managed by wheel-mounted paddles.

2020 Lexus UX 300e - 5

When Chasing Cars reviewed the petrol-powered UX 200 we were very impressed by the quality of materials in that car, as well as cabin insulation, Lexus claim to have improved insulation further over the already class-leading UX with more insulation in the wheel-arches and cabin.

Apparently the UXs sound insulation is so good that Lexus has engineered in a system dubbed “active sound control”, which will beam sounds in from outside to give an indication of surface conditions – say gravel or cobblestones – to provide a more normal driving experience.

The UX 300e should also address our concerns with the slightly disappointing two-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder in the UX 200, and lend a real classiness to the urban runabout.

2020 Lexus UX 300e - Interior

Cabin design maintains very cockpit-like, with digital instrument binnacle qne 10-inch centrally mounted main screen, we assume the 300e will come fairly loaded with leather seats and safety features like AEB and adaptive cruise, however full specification is yet to be locked in yet.

Lexus has not confirmed the UX 300e for the Australian market yet, though it will come on sale in China and Europe in 2020, with the home Japanese market receiving it in 2021. 

Although pricing has yet to be confirmed, the current range-topping UX 250h Sport Luxury variant lists for $61,450 ($67,280 driveaway), we expect the price of the UX 300e to reflect it’s advanced propulsion, potentially pushing over $70,000 before on-road costs in Australia.

2020 Lexus UX 300e - 2

With our experience of the other UX variants, we think this battery powered variant would prove a popular option, normalising electric propulsion and silencing powertrain noise, while offering range enough for inner-city journeys and occasional weekend trip, we eagerly await Lexus Australia’s confirmation of the 300e’s arrival.