United Kingdom

Lexus on the charge: RAY MASSEY tests the new UX 300-e electric SUV

The first Lexus battery-powered SUV is raring to go - with order books opening up at the start of the month.

Named the UX 300-e, the family- oriented off-roader comes in three grades: the standard UX priced from £40,900, Premium Plus Pack from £44,400 and the top-end Takumi Pack (which I tried) from £50,500.

Prices are after the Government's £3,000 plug-in vehicle grant is taken off. One trick worth knowing is that the taxpayer-funded grant is normally capped at £50,000. 

Family friendly: The new Lexus UX 300-e - seen here in Celestial Blue - is the company's first fully electric vehicle

But, as the standard UX 300-e costs less than that, customers are not penalised for adding the Takumi Pack (which bumps the gross pre-grant price up to £53,500).

So what's it like to drive? Though technically it is a compact urban SUV, it feels roomy and high-riding. 

It's sprightly enough and smooth, refined and well-balanced to drive. It whizzes along dual-carriageways and A-roads, and has a bit of poke thanks to its friction-free early electric acceleration. 

It's quiet most of the time but with some road noise on uneven surfaces - maybe enhanced by the 18in wheels on my car's trim level (17in is standard). 

Test run: Ray poses with the new Lexus which can be ordered from November 1 for deliveries in March

Plug in: The Lexus has two charging ports - one for a domestic wall-box, the other for a fast DC version. Charging to 80 per cent takes 50 minutes on a rapid charger or eight hours at home

Powered by a 150kW/204hp motor and 54.3kW battery, it goes from rest to 62mph in 7.5 seconds to a 100mph top speed. Total range is 196 miles, which is fine for commuters.

It has two charging ports - one for a domestic wall-box, the other for a fast DC commercial version. Charging to 80 per cent takes 50 minutes on a rapid charger or eight hours at home. 

People will love or hate the quirky infotainment touch-pad in the centre console, which gives a reassuring clunk when activated. 

People will love or hate the quirky infotainment touch-pad in the centre console, which gives a reassuring clunk when activated.

The boot is roomy enough for a small family's luggage, with 367 litres of space before the rear seats are put down. 

Hi-tech kit includes a pre-collision system with night-time pedestrian protection.

First orders on November 1 will be delivered in March. By 2025, Lexus will have electric versions of all of its models.

Ex Morgan man's one to watch 

There's long been a close relationship between motor cars and watches.

Now car designer-turned- watchmaker Matthew Humphries - former chief designer at British sports car firm Morgan - is setting the pace with a new limited-edition £745 MHD Type 1 wristwatch, inspired by a 1920s Bugatti.

Classic lines: The £745 MHD Type 1 wristwatch is inspired by a 1920s Bugatti racing car

Former Morgan designer Matthew Humphries

Humphries became a designer for Morgan aged 21 and his credits include the AeroMax and Supersport cars.

He got into timepieces almost by accident when a Swiss firm asked him to design a watch. 

He enjoyed it so much he set up his own business in 2014.

Cars such as the Bugatti, three-litre Bentley and Zagato-bodied Alfa Romeo 8C have all been influences. 

He says: 'I take my sketch pad with me everywhere, because you never know when something will inspire you.'

That includes often using seatbelt material for watch straps.

Veterans' Brighton run cancelled

Unfortunately, the Royal Automobile Club has had to cancel the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, November 1, because of Covid-19. 

Chug-a-bug rally: The Royal Automobile Club has had to cancel the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday, November 1

The event has run, uninterrupted, since 1947.

A little bit of me hopes that, in the never-give-up spirit of Genevieve, the 1953 film of the run, the club secretly sends a car out early - when no one's awake - to maintain the unbroken thread.

Skoda sweeps the board 

Plaudits: Skoda's Octavia clinched best compact family car and best estate in the annual Auto Express Awards

Skoda's Octavia has been crowned Car of the Year in the annual motor industry 'Oscars'. 

It also clinched best compact family car and best estate in the annual Auto Express Awards.

The Skoda Octavia Estate was also named Best Family Car in the rival Autocar awards.

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