New 2022 Lexus RZ 450e electric SUV unveiled

The all-new RZ SUV is the Japanese company’s first bespoke electric car and arrives with a range of over 250 miles

Lexus has finally lifted the covers on its all-new RZ 450e SUV. It’s the first Lexus electric car to have been developed on a dedicated EV platform, the same e-TNGA technology we’ve recently seen used on the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra.

The RZ’s design takes influence from the striking Lexus LFZ concept we first saw back in 2021, and Lexus hopes the fresh design language will open a stylish new chapter as it aims to offer an all-electric lineup in Western and Central Europe by 2030.

The RZ 450e retains the LFZ’s dramatic side profile, with rear-biased cabin layout, an aggressive roofline and a long bonnet. The front-end design features a three-dimensional spindle grille and L-motif daytime running lights. At the rear, a thin, elongated light bar features alongside a split roof spoiler – much like the one found on the Lotus Eletre.

Lexus RZ 450e range and charging

The Lexus RZ uses the same 71.4 kWh battery found in both the bZ4X and the Solterra, certain versions of which can cover over 300 miles between charges. Lexus has claimed that the RZ 450e will be able to cover more than 250 miles on the WLTP test cycle, but an official figure has yet to be confirmed. Lexus also expects the RZ’s battery to retain more than 90% of its original capacity after ten years of driving.

Eco and Range driving modes respectively work to improve efficiency and aid in maximising the RZ’s range. Lexus says that the RZ 450e’s target consumption is fewer than 18 kilowatts per 100 kilometres, which equates to roughly 3.4mi/kWh.

There’s no information yet on battery charging times, but we believe the 150kW rapid charging capability of the RZ’s sister cars will be carried to the Lexus model. This would allow for 80% battery capacity to be refilled in around 30 minutes from a fast enough public charging point.

Lexus's European boss Spiros Fotinos told DrivingElectric that while it's possible that other variants could be added to the RZ line-up, it looks unlikely. “A one-motor option is something we’d look at,” he said, “but the only reason you’ll do that is to offer a bit more range. And we’d need to weigh up the benefits there compared with the trade-off on driving feeling and sensation. If we’re going to turn it into something completely different, I don’t think that’s something we’d really do.”

Performance

The new RZ uses two e-Axles, one on the front and one on the rear axle, which consists of a motor, gearing and an ECU, to deliver a total output of 308bhp and 435Nm of torque. The RZ 450e will reach a top speed of 99mph and accelerate from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds.

Lexus’s new DIRECT4 all-wheel-drive system can be seen for the first time in the new RZ. The new system collects information such as speed, steering angle and G forces from ECU sensors and calculates the optimum drive torque for each e-Axle to maximise grip and traction. 

Power is distributed across the RZ’s e-Axles based on throttle, steering inputs and road conditions for optimum driveability and performance. Lexus says the RZ can shift "from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive and everything in between, in the blink of an eye" as a result of the DIRECT4 system. The front/rear torque bias can also be adjusted from zero to 100 or 100 to zero in milliseconds, according to Lexus - much faster than any mechanical system.

Interior and technology

The Lexus RZ arrives with a head-up display and a 14-inch central touchscreen as standard. It features the new Lexus Link multimedia platform, Lexus’s NX navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A dimmable, heat-shielding panoramic sunroof and knee-level radiant heaters for the driver and front passenger can also be optionally equipped. 18-inch wheels are found on the base models, while 20-inch wheels are on the options list. 

The RZ can be upgraded to include a steer-by-wire steering setup, which swaps the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and front wheels for an electronic system. Lexus claims the new setup improves steering response and reduces “steering wheel sway” when travelling over rough roads, maximising the benefits of the DIRECT4 system.

Lexus will also offer the new RZ with a new One Motion Grip yoke steering wheel (pictured above), similar to the one seen in the latest Tesla Model X. The brand claims this helps improve road visibility and enables the driver to perform U-turns with inputs of just 150 degrees. This setup will be available in the UK from 2023, but a traditional round steering wheel is still fitted to the RZ as standard.

The new Lexus RZ benefits from the third generation Lexus Safety System + for improved accident risk detection, as well as a Blind Spot Monitor, Proactive Driving Assist and the e-Latch electric door release system, which automatically cancels the door opening if vehicles or cyclists are approaching from the rear. A digital rear-view mirror can be fitted for improved visibility at night, during poor weather conditions or when the car is fully loaded.

Prices and future Lexus EVs

You can reserve the Lexus RZ now, but there's no word yet on UK pricing at the time of writing. A starting price of around £50,000-£60,000 is likely given what some of its potential rivals like the BMW iX3 and Tesla Model Y cost. First deliveries are expected to arrive towards the end of 2022.

The RZ isn't the brand’s first-ever zero-emissions model; that title goes to the UX 300e, which competes against the Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQA and Volvo XC40 Recharge in the premium compact electric SUV class. Unlike the RZ, however, the UX is also offered with hybrid and (in some non-UK markets) petrol power alone.

More zero-emissions models are expected to arrive soon, as Lexus has pledged to offer an electric-only line-up in Europe by 2030. It has revealed several zero-emissions concepts designed to preview its future premium EV range, including an electric saloon and a larger electric SUV, as well as a flagship Lexus-LFA-inspired super sports car with a 0-62mph time “in the low-two-second range".

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