Electric Vehicles (EV) aka electric cars are still new – if you don’t want to be said to be foreign – in the country. In appearance it is the same as most cars but the systems and requirements are much different. This makes us have a lot of homework before this technology car was widely available on the streets.
Okay, before discussing the Lexus UX 300e that we tried, there is a little acknowledgment. It has always been difficult for me to be able to like Lexus’ modern designs, especially for SUV or crossover models. Lexus, in my opinion, is like trying too hard and breaking boundaries in creating its design language, with intricate curves and lines. The corners and concoctions are too meticulous. But the story immediately changed when I saw the Lexus UX that was brought to the 2018 Indonesia International Auto Show.
I was immediately hooked on the UX design, as the smallest SUV / crossover model in the Lexus line up. The appearance and exterior feel proper, like what has been manifested in the IS and LS models, even the LC 500. The UX has the right and beautiful design proportions for a Lexus, at least according to my taste.
Since officially circulating in the Indonesian market starting in 2019, I have always been curious to want to be able to try this car. But until after 2020 ended, that opportunity did not come because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Until finally, after the first launch in Southeast Asia for the electric version of the UX, namely the UX 300e, in Indonesia, I just had the opportunity to try this car.
Honestly, ever since I got to know UX, I’ve been more interested in enjoying its appearance and design from the outside, because it’s as good as it is for me. Especially if you look at the long LED strip that becomes the taillights. And about the specs and features, I really don’t really care. Judgment is a matter of taste. But this is the best design car Lexus has ever launched, even by Toyota as a whole in the last ten years perhaps.
Okay, enough about admiring the beauty of the UX design, here we will talk about how the Lexus UX 300e electric car is driven, especially as a fully electric powered car. The UX 300e is the first fully electric car from the Toyota family for the Indonesian market. Toyota and Lexus have indeed gradually introduced electrification technology in Indonesia through hybrid variants in various models and segments. But the UX 300e is the beginning of the era of full electric Toyota and Lexus cars in Indonesia.
Lexus took a different step in designing this electric car. Instead of following the way of other manufacturers by taking a special design style commonly applied to electric cars, the UX 300e has almost no changes compared to the conventional engine version. Just look at the front fascia, the grille still has an open grille to channel fresh air to the cooling system. The entire exterior has no noticeable changes, except for the aerospoke wheel design and the “Electric” emblem on the second row doors.
When entering the cabin, the same thing can be found. The UX 300e’s interior appearance and atmosphere are also synonymous with the petrol variant. Maybe at least the choice of leather upholstery is different. The neatness of the exotic interior layout remains, even more stunning than the usual Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi. Lexus raises elements of traditional Japanese culture in a touch of the upholstery design on the front, which is claimed to be inspired by the stitch motif of Aikido martial clothing.
From everything that is presented on the exterior and interior, I think Lexus doesn’t seem to want to make UX 300e users foreign just because it has different powertrain technology. If it’s already good, why should it be changed, right? Even though it doesn’t show the difference clearly, at least the typical premium feel of Lexus can still be felt. Then is it the same when driving?
I have to emphasize first, that before I have never driven a gasoline engine version of the Lexus UX. So I can’t directly compare the difference when driving. But armed with the experience of having tried electric cars from other manufacturers, one of which is the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, it seems that the impression when you feel the difference will be more or less the same.
Of course, when you press the starter button or the powertrain system is turned on, the UX 300e will only emit a reminder sound and a special indicator light to let you know that the vehicle is ready to run. The operation of the transmission also feels conventional, because Lexus maintains the joystick lever like that of its hyrbid models so far.
So there are still indicators Drive (D), N (Neutral), Reverse (R), and B (Brake) for engien braking. Then there is one electronic P (Parking) button that only needs to be pressed. The same.
As many reviews and news mention, one of the distinctive characteristics of an electric car is its abundant torque and can be exploited from the start. But it is different when the UX 300e is advanced. The torque is polite and smooth, not explosive or too solid when you step on the accelerator pedal. The initial rate from silence actually seems linear, like still using a combustion engine. At least minus the vibrations from the engine room only.
That’s what I feel when driving this electric version of the UX on the highway of Jakarta, there is no shocking effect every time the accelerator pedal is pressed deeper. Maybe only when the pedal is pressed to the floor, the torque is overflowing. But still, there is a split-second pause from the moment the input to the pedal is given until the car accelerates fast. But it’s still in Comfort driving mode.
Because it is full electric, it is clear that the speed is very quiet, especially with the quality of the tightness of the Lexus cabin which is no longer questionable. It’s not that fast, but the electric motor with an output of 201 hp and 300 Nm of torque from this car makes a buzzing sound from outside. This is in order to meet the regulations for electric vehicles to be heard by other road users, especially pedestrians, for safety reasons.
One of the things I notice the most when driving the UX 300e is that it tends to sit low for a crossover. Almost the same as sitting in a sedan or hatchback. So even though the base of the UX, which is the TNGA GA-C platform like the Toyota C-HR, is both a crossover, the feeling of driving feels more compact and dynamic in this sitting position. Instantly made me forget that the UX is a crossover or a small SUV.
Moreover, the fact that the electric car configuration puts the battery circuit at the base of the chassis, makes the majority of the weight centered below. As a result, the car feels more attached to the asphalt pulled by gravity and the movement of each maneuver becomes more stable. Not to mention knowing that the steering wheel responds swiftly to every input, but is very smooth when rotated. It is a bit contradictory, but it seems that Lexus prioritizes comfort over a sporty character entirely in engineering its steering system.
Of course, for commuters on the streets of the city, the UX 300e is very comfortable with its tightness, smooth electric motor, and favorite songs or radio chants from the Mark Levinson audio system. Lexus also adjusts its audio character towards SQ (sound quality) rather than SPL (sound pressure loud), so you don’t feel loud bass no matter how loud the volume is put on. Suitable for enjoying classical music, swing jazz, or maybe Lo-Fi.
Incidentally, during my testing period with the UX 300e, the weather in Jakarta rained more often, even heavily with high intensity. So I didn’t focus too much on finding out how fast the electric motorbike was if it was pushed to the maximum. But once in a while I took her for cuisines on the toll road and experienced Sport mode. Still, even though the motor output faucet has been maximized, the UX does respond more swiftly and fiercely, but still smooth and not spiky.
What is clear, driving with the UX 300e I was made momentarily forget two things; first the car was a crossover, and the second behind the bonnet was no more combustion engine. Because the control and sensation is very dynamic for a crossover. Likewise, the character of the electric motor is smooth and linear, like it is not an electric car. So, it’s no different from other cars.
For the Indonesian market, Lexus Indonesia sells the UX 300e at IDR 1,245 billion (OTR Jakarta) when it was launched at the end of November 2020. But there are some minor things that bother me a bit while enjoying time with this car.
First, as an electric car the UX 300e is also equipped with a regenerative braking feature that can be selected in 3 levels. But at the highest level, the effect of this feature when the gas pedal is released is not as strong as other electric cars I’ve tried, for example the Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Kicks e-Power. Maybe this is Lexus’ way to make the driving character as natural as possible. But on the other hand, we cannot steer it with the one pedal operation method.
Second, the Lexus infotainment system is indeed ‘different’ compared to other manufacturers’ cars in the premium segment. Practicality has been supported by a wireless charging dock for our favorite smartphones. But, unfortunately, to connect to Apple CarPlay or Andoid Auto, you still have to go through a USB data cable, aka you can’t go wireless.
Third, between the modern and luxurious appearance of the cockpit, why is the car battery indicator not all made with a digital display? On the UX 300e, the battery capacity indicator is actually analog, like a car from last decade, even though the speedometer and MID are fully interactive digital.
However, the package of features and technology provided by Lexus on the UX 300e is quite complete. From the safety side, 8 airbags are available. Then there is the Lexus Safety System + which is filled with Pre-Collision System (PCS), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Adaptive High beam System (AHS).
Electrical Energy Consumption
The majority of my testing period for the UX 300e was done on the streets of Jakarta. So it is not often carried fast, but the frequency of driving is quite high for several days. By prioritizing driving in Comfort mode, I got an energy consumption result of 7.4 km / kWh. Which if converted is equivalent to a gasoline engine is 65.8 km / liter.
Lexus claims, when the battery with a capacity of 54.3 kWh is fully charged, the UX 300e can be used to drive for a distance of slightly more than 300 kilometers. About Jakarta to Purwokerto. For fellow full electric crossovers, the distance is a little shorter when compared to Kona Electric. But of course the luxury of the UX 300e is nothing compared to apple-to-apple.
For recharging or charging the battery, Lexus provides two ports on the right and left of the car. The right side is for charging with AC electricity, for normal charging such as at home, office, or other public facilities. For example, at home, I can choose the charging speed with a current of 8A or 16A. Of course it takes a long time for charging via AC, at least overnight to reach it fully.
While on the left, there is a channel for the DC port with the CHAdeMO type to take advantage of the fast charging method. For this part, the maximum electricity that can be absorbed is up to 31A. For example, the battery has about 50% remaining, to fully charge it again, 100%, it took less than 2 hours.
Every purchase of the UX 300e unit will be equipped with a travel charger device to carry around in the car. Then at home, Lexus will pair the wallbox charger with the amount of electric current that is adjusted at the same time as installation. If you live in a big city, you can already take advantage of a number of charging station facilities provided by both state-owned enterprises and the initiative of the private sector that manages certain places, such as malls or offices.