Inside story

Given that the Lexus brand is known for fit and finish and material quality, the seat design has been a special focus of attention. The seat structure incorporates polyurethane foam wrapped around an iron frame. It’s the flat cushion and raised side sections that support the hips and keep the body stable, while subtle depressions in the cushion’s surface allow for smaller occupants to enjoy the same level of body holding as larger people.

The three-spoke steering wheel and analogue clock are from the Lexus LS flagship saloon. The Lexus Climate Concierge automatically links heating and cooling airflow with the heated and ventilated front seats for added comfort.

A plush leather upholstery finish with stitching was inspired by the Japanese sashiko technique used for making judo and kendo uniforms. It is combined with a pattern of perforations on the lower part of the seat derived from perfectly aligned mathematical curves and gradations.

The rear seats are shaped to take into account the underfloor battery. Further back, the powered liftgate reveals 367 litres of luggage space in the square-shaped boot, loaded to the tonneau cover with all the seats up and 486 litres with the rear seats folded, loaded to the roof. There are also plenty of cubby holes to store paraphernalia including the wide glovebox that glides open effortlessly.

In the ambient lighting department, white LEDs shed light on the front footwells, glovebox, and console switches and are also featured in the dome light, map lights and cargo area light. The air vents have a single-knob control for both airflow direction and volume. By combining the two functions in a single control, the vents can be made larger, improving airflow while reducing noise.

The instrumentation cluster has been revised in line with the UX 300e’s all-electric drivetrain, with a digital speedometer, driving range indicator and four-level deceleration indicator. In place of a conventional shift lever, a shift-by-wire drive selector fits snugly in the hand.

A touchpad located on the centre console to partly control the 10.3-inch multimedia display screen looks neat but can be a little awkward to use. That said, a helpful switch at the base of the touchpad can call up an operation screen with related functions, such as air conditioning and navigation, thereby facilitating easier access without having to click through menus.

Higher trim levels are fitted with a head-up display (HUD). Lexus calls this concept ‘Seat in Control,’ a notion that from the moment you get in, all the controls needed are within reach and all the information is in plain view. The HUD projects relevant vehicle information onto the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. In addition to basic functionality, such as speed, fuel level and shift position, the display can also present speed limit signs, lane tracing assist warnings and navigation directions. 

Other comfort and convenience features include power steering wheel adjustment, reversing camera display with guidelines, six-speaker audio system with DAB, four USB ports and Aux socket, heated outer rear seats, rear privacy glass, smart keyless entry, card key, smartphone wireless charger and illuminated door handles with puddle lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, sunroof and a 360-degree panoramic view monitor.

There’s an app for that

Drivers can use a smartphone app to check their vehicle’s charge level or view the driving range. They can also set a timer to suit their daily routine, to help ensure charging is complete before their planned departure time.

The driver can use the app for remote control of functions such as window de-icing and air conditioning, adjustable in 1°C increments. The defrost setting can clear screens and warm the car. Likewise, the cabin can be cooled down ready for departure on a hot day. The system will run for up to 20 minutes, so the operation can be synchronised with the time the owner wants to begin their journey.

The app’s finder function can provide details of other charging stations, check their address, opening hours and operational status. Locations can be shared with a navigation app or the car’s multimedia system.

Advanced driver assistance systems

Key to its safety performance is the latest version of Lexus Safety System+, an integrated safety package that provides a suite of active safety and driver assistance to help prevent accidents from happening or reduce their severity should an impact be unavoidable.

The Pre-Collision System (PCS) uses a front-mounted camera and millimetre-wave radar to detect vehicles and pedestrians on the road ahead. If it calculates a risk of a collision, it automatically warns the driver and provides extra braking force the moment the brake pedal is pressed. If the driver fails to react and the system judges a collision to be imminent, the brakes are automatically applied to reduce vehicle speed and the force of any impact, and the seatbelts are tensioned. 

The functionality of the PCS has been increased so that it is now capable of detecting pedestrians in the vehicle’s path in both day and night-time driving, and bicycle riders during daylight hours.

The same radar unit is used to provide all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), which helps the driver maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Once the way ahead is clear, the RX automatically accelerates to its pre-set cruising speed.

Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) detects when the RX deviates from its correct traffic lane, without the turn indicators being used. The system will automatically provide a warning and steering inputs to help keep the vehicle centred in its lane, detecting markings on the road surface or the road margin. These features operate when the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is being used and can be switched off if desired.

Other ADAS technologies include adaptive variable suspension control; panoramic view monitor; blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert with auto brake; parking support brake; and sway warning. The latter involves the use of cameras to monitor the car’s position in its lane and the driver’s steering inputs. If it detects degrees of vehicle swaying caused by driver distraction or drowsiness, it will sound an alert and display a warning on the multi-information display, recommending the driver takes a break.

On the road

The UX300e is powered by a 54.35kWh battery located under the cabin floor. This gives a claimed driving range of 196 miles and supports rapid charging at 50kW. Although its range is not the best out there, it is still respectable. An Active Sound Control can be activated that produces an acceleration-sensitive BEV sound, broadcast through the audio system’s central speaker. Throughout the SUV cabin, the quality and finish of the upholstery, expensive-feeling trim materials and detailing continue to reflect the attention to detail that Lexus’ engineers have given this model. Rivals include the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, Mercedes-Benz EQC and BMW iX3.