Lexus has decided to bring in some units of its smallest crossover SUV to India for testing. The Lexus UX is the only EV model from the Japanese luxury car maker. So how does the first all-electric Lexus drive? And should it be launched here? Read on and decide.
Lexus is still finding its feet in India. But in the past few months we have seen a sharper, renewed focus that aims to take the brand into higher gear here. The new second generation hybrid Lexus NX crossover SUV is a big part of that. But Lexus is also planning ahead for further electrification. Enter this car. the baby crossover from the brand – the Lexus UX. Named so for being an ‘Urban Crossover’, the model has already been quite popular as the entry car in the Lexus range. But this model also has a special variant. When the Lexus UX first debuted at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, I remember being really attracted to this car styling. Lexus was undergoing its big design transformation, and I think the UX really embodied that. It’s very sharp, and packs a lot of edgy design elements into a tiny crossover footprint. making the car look really hot. But I’m not going to talk more about styling because it’s not like this car is being launched here, is it?
I do have two of them with me – one is the car you’d expect from Lexus – i.e. the self-charging hybrid model – dubbed the UX 250h. The second is the new baby in the Lexus global lineup. It’s the 300e fully electric or EV version of the UX. Yes, the first electric vehicle (EV) ever from the Lexus brand. Both cars are here to gauge interest and test their capabilities in Indian conditions. This is just step one of where Lexus would take its EV strategy for India. So these are not launching anytime soon. But the car itself interests me a great deal. And naturally I will focus on the EV.
The UX 300e uses a 54.35 kWh battery on the floor pan and a conventional 150 kW permanent magnet motor at the front that replaces the engine. It goes 315-400 kms on a full charge – which is a good range for a compact city crossover. The total power output is a good 201 bhp and you get 300 Nm of all-time torque availability. It goes 0-100 in 7.5 seconds and its top speed is around 160 kmph. Numbers aside it all translates in to a zippy and fun driving experience. To give myself the true comparison, I jumped into the self-charging hybrid first.
The Lexus UX 250h makes a generous 150 bhp, it is light and quick, and the 2-litre petrol engine is well mated to the 216 V battery. The E-CVT gearbox also works quite well, and the generous 2640 mm wheelbase gives the car tremendous sporty potential when pushed. It can go to 177 kmph. That done, it was time to board the UX 300e. And instantly the car felt different – as it should. When you come off of a petrol diesel or even a hybrid, of course an electric straightaway feels silent and smooth. Once you get past that, you begin to actually assess its performance.
The UX EV needed to be sporty and dynamic, keeping performance at its heart because the segment is dominated globally by racy compacts. So to really test that I’m glad there are two things at my disposal. The first is an empty track, and the second is a credible sport mode on this car. I had the two cars to myself all day at the ICAT track outside New Delhi. It really allowed me quality time with both, and uninhibited driving. Lexus may have gone with a conventional EV setup – but being the company’s first all-electric and being based on an existing ICE model platform – I think that was a wise decision.