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Lexus RZ 450e

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By Jonathan Crouch

With the RZ 450e, Lexus at last gets serious about EVs. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 47

The RZ isn't the first all electric Lexus, but it's the first one that really matters, new from the ground up. As you might expect, it's packed with borrowed Toyota technology, embellished with the usual Lexus sheen and a new-found spirit of driver involvement. An interesting confection.

Backgroundword count: 171

No other premium luxury brand has more experience in electrification than Lexus. Which made it all the more surprising that it took until 2020 for the brand to launch its first EV (the compact UX 300e) and a further two years for the marque to introduce one with a dedicated EV platform, this car, the Lexus RZ. We were pretty underwhelmed by the UX 300e with its feeble operating range, but this RZ looks far more promising. As it should be, given the huge investment poured into the e-TNGA architecture it sits on, a chassis we've already seen with the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra. The similarly-sized RZ - its specific badge is 'RZ 450e' - is a more driver-orientated, luxurious thing, though it has the same 71.4kWh battery. Unlike its bZ4X design sibling, it only comes with 4WD, a twin motor 'Direct 4' set-up. And there's a clever steer-by-wire system too. This is all more the kind of thing you'd expect from a brand with a heritage in electrification.

Driving Experienceword count: 292

Lexus doesn't really have much of a heritage in pin-sharp driving dynamics, but of late has been prioritising handling much more as part of what it calls the 'Lexus Driving Signature'. We've already seen that approach in latest versions of the NX and RX and it continues here as part of what the company calls a 'seamless E-motion' concept. This was pretty important to achieve if the RZ was not to be seen as merely a plushed-up version of the Toyota bZ4X model with which it shares most of its engineering. That car's 4WD system - called 'Direct 4' here - works with Lexus's latest electric e-Axle set-up, which gives you a pair of compact electric motors, one at the front with 201bhp, the other at the rear with 108bhp, together giving the RZ 450e a combined output of 309bhp. 62mph is just 5.3s away (faster than this model's Audi Q4 etron 50 quattro arch-rival) but as with most EVs, top speed is governed back, here to 99mph, in order to preserve the 71.4kWh battery's range figure, quoted at just over 250 miles with the big 20-inch wheels that most RZs will have. Unlike with the bZ4X, no front-driven single motor version is being offered because Lexus thinks the 'Direct 4' set-up is integral to the RZ driving experience. Torque vectoring between the axles allows 100% of power to be sent to front or rear at any given time, the distribution governed by sensors monitoring speed, steering angle and G-Forces. Equally clever is the steer-by-wire 'One Motion Grip' system you can ask your dealer about which eliminates the usual mechanical linkage between the driver and the front wheels and can be optionally specified to work with an unusual butterfly-shaped yoke-style steering wheel.

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£62,500.00 (At 15 Nov 2023)

£73,100.00 (At 15 Nov 2023)

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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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