You may be thinking that Lexus launched its first EV a while back in the shape of the UX 300e, and you would be correct. However, the UX 300e is based on a modified GA-C platform meaning that essentially, it’s a modified petrol vehicle. With the RZ 450e, Lexus has launched the first car designed to be electric from the ground up.
Craftsmanship, performance and refinement are things we’d typically associate with Lexus cars, and it’s no different with the RZ, which the Japanese brand hopes will spearhead its transition into an electric-only carmaker in Europe by 2030.
Being based on the e-TNGA platform has freed Lexus up to create what we suspect will be an overall superior EV to the already decent UX 300e. The RZ will use the brand’s e-Axle which was first introduced on the UX, combining the motor, gearing and EXU into one compact package between the driven wheels.
The RZ is all-wheel drive as standard. Up front the e-Axle produces 107bhp whilst at the rear it dishes out 201bhp for a combined 308bhp and 321lb-ft. Performance is suitably brisk with 62mph coming up in 5.6 seconds and the max speed set at 99mph. It’ll even tow 750kg of unbraked weight.
Lexus’s all-wheel drive on the RZ debuts a new DIRECT 4 system which intelligently distributes drive depending on local conditions, driving style and the available grip. Torque bias can be distributed up to 100 per cent to either axle. An optional One Motion Grip steer-by-wire system does away with mechanical linkages which Lexus reckons will offer more precise control.
The battery is the same 71.4kWh unit which can be found in the Toyota bZ4X and should provide up to 250 miles of range alongside a maximum charging speed of 150kW.
Lexus has designed the RZ 450e with its “Next Chapter” design principles in mind with “Seamless E-motion” the design concept. At 4805mm long, 1895mm wide and 1635mm tall, the RZ is larger in every dimension than the UX. To mark it out as an EV, Lexus has given the RZ a low front end with fewer intakes, rounded off by a spindle grille – a shape that has defined the front end of Lexus cars for ten years. Two-tone paint and more muscular wings also help the RZ stand out.
The overall profile is raked backwards from the sharp front end, which Lexus reckons enhances the car’s dynamism. At the rear, the haunches are pronounced and muscular, whilst a split rear spoiler helps moderate air flow as well as adding a dynamic look.
To our eye, at least, the RZ is an altogether better realised car than the UX.
For the driver, Lexus is offering to replace the traditional steering wheel with a new yoke if you opt for the drive-by-wire steering. A digital cockpit with head-up display is augmented by a 14 inch multimedia display. The overall feel of the cabin is designed to be one of light and airiness, aided by simplicity of design, ambient lighting, a dimmable panoramic roof and a decent 2850mm wheelbase.
Lexus has employed radiant heaters for the front seat occupants at knee height which are both efficient and help give more natural warmth. In terms of infotainment, an all-new Lexus Link multimedia platform should offer intuitive control alongside live navigation and on-board assistance.
Driver assistance and safety is catered for with the latest third generation Lexus Safety System+ and a Proactive Driving Assist system which provides some active assistance.
There’s no word on price just yet, but prospective buyers can reserve an RZ 450e for a refundable £500 deposit. Deliveries will start before the end of 2022.
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