Lexus is a company long associated with premium cars and hybrid technology, but its latest model points to a fully electric future. The RZ 450e is a five-seat SUV and the first Lexus that has been designed exclusively as a fully electric vehicle. The Japanese company has already outlined its plans to become a 100 percent electric brand by 2030.
The exterior design of the RZ 450e retains a degree of familiarity with existing Lexus models, with a shape that blends sharp creases and subtle curves. Famous for its large front grilles, the RZ has far less need for cooling but retains a striking appearance nonetheless. The area is typically painted to match the rest of the bodywork, but as an option, buyers can choose a two-tone scheme that extends the contrasting black area of the roof down into the bonnet and the nose of the car. Ultra-slim headlights feature the Lexus L-motif in the daytime running lights.
As standard, the Lexus runs on 18-inch wheels, while the higher-spec models get 20-inch wheels. The RZ 450e uses the new e-TNGA platform architecture that will be seen in other models and is similar to what underpins the forthcoming Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra.
A 71.4kWh battery is integrated into the chassis floor, and Lexus says that it is sufficient for a driving range of around 400 kilometres per charge. Lexus expects the RZ’s battery to retain more than 90% of its capacity within that timeframe, thanks to a series of measures to safeguard quality and performance, founded on Lexus’ long experience with battery management technologies. It will be available with a new Direct4 all-wheel-drive transmission and a total power output of 313hp and 435Nm. A top speed of 160km/h and 0-100km/h acceleration of 5.6 seconds means the RZ 450e will have brisk performance.
The interior of the RZ is an evolution of the Tazuna design concept and has some similarities to the recently introduced NX SUV. A 14-inch touchscreen display accompanies a digitised instrument cluster and head-up display. From 2023 the RZ 450e will be optionally available with a One Motion Grip system that comes with a steering yoke, replacing the traditional steering wheel. By effectively removing the top section of the steering wheel, the yoke provides the driver with an unobstructed view of the instrument binnacle and the road ahead. It has a similar look to what Tesla has offered with the Model S Plaid, and with only a 150-degree turn of the yoke needed to move from the straight-ahead to left or right lock, there is no need for hand-over-hand turns.
Lexus equips the RZ with a new type of radiant heaters to maximise the car’s energy efficiency. Positioned in front of the driver and front passenger, below the steering column and dashboard, these direct warm air to produce the effect of a warm blanket around the legs. In tandem with the heated seats and steering wheel, passengers can be warmed up more quickly and with less load on the air conditioning system.
An optional panoramic roof helps flood the cabin with more light and uses glass with a low-emissive coating that can reflect infra-red radiation and reduce radiant heat on sunny days when the car is parked. Equally, the technology can help to retain heat inside the cabin on colder days. The roof also features an electric dimming function that instantly switches from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button.