2023 Lexus RZ 450e Ushers in Lexus’ Electric Era

Lexus has officially unveiled its first global electric vehicle. The RZ 450e will go on sale in Canada toward the end of 2022 as a 2023 model, and while pricing and equipment details have yet to be announced, there is plenty to say about this brand new model.

First of all, you must know that it’s the first step in Lexus’ quest to become 100 percent electric by the end of the decade in the North American, European and Chinese markets, and worldwide by 2035.

Chief Engineer Takashi Watanabe describes the RZ 450e as “a uniquely Lexus BEV that feels secure to ride in, is pleasing to the touch, and is exhilarating to drive.” Let’s take a closer look.

Photo: Lexus

New Design Identity

Built on the same e-TNGA platform as the equally new 2023 Toyota bZ4X, this electric SUV from Lexus is slightly longer (though with an identical wheelbase of 2,850 mm), wider and taller. The spindle grille is adapted for the EV era. In fact, the styling evolution you see here ushers in a new Lexus aesthetic

Some body cladding adorns the sides and rear, while the panoramic roof appears to be floating over the C-pillars. The centre of the roof is shaped to allow air to flow smoothly from the sloped rear glass surface to the rear of the vehicle, which features a ducktail shape and super-slim, full-width taillights.

Photo: Lexus

Five exterior colours are available along with a two-tone colour scheme that lays solid black from the front of the spindle body to the upper hood and roof.

Distinctive Interior

The interior of the Lexus RZ 450e is thankfully not a carbon copy of the bZ4X. The driver-centric cockpit is unique, and the standard 14-inch centre screen is powered by the new Lexus Interface multimedia system complete with an intelligent voice assistant.

Photo: Lexus

There is plenty of space inside, two types of seat materials are used including Ultrasuede (made from 30 percent bio-based sustainable materials), and passenger comfort is improved by a highly efficient heating system featuring a Lexus-first radiant heater.

Lexus engineers created expressive in-cabin sounds by matching sound frequencies to the vehicle’s speed and sound levels during dynamic actions such as acceleration. In addition, the underfloor battery functions as a sound barrier and the entire perimeter of the hood opening is sealed to eliminate noise caused by turbulent airflow. Unwanted noise is also suppressed through the use of acoustic glass.

360 Kilometres of Range

More powerful than the Toyota bZ4X, the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e combines a 150kW (201 hp) motor up front with an 80kW (107 hp) motor in the rear. Energy is supplied by a 71.4kWh battery, and Lexus claims an estimated range of 360 kilometres based on North American test cycles. That’s when riding on 18-inch wheels. How much range is lost with the optional 20-inch wheels is not specified yet.

Photo: Lexus

In order to achieve the so-called “Lexus Driving Signature," a new DIRECT4 all-wheel drive system continuously controls the drive force of the four wheels with high precision according to driving and road surface conditions. As much as 100 percent of the available torque can be sent to either the front or rear wheels.

A Lexus-first steer-by-wire system (with no mechanical link between the front axle and steering wheel) will be available in Canada at a future date. The company says it greatly reduces the driver's workload, but it also means zero feedback from the road. A similar technology exists over at Infiniti, and the result is underwhelming to say the least. 

Photo: Lexus

The RZ 450e rides atop a MacPherson strut type suspension up front, while its rear uses a double-wishbone configuration. Frequency-reactive dampers also come into play, giving a high level of stability without compromising ride comfort, Lexus says.

Finally, we should point out the latest Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 set of driving aids, including Proactive Driving Assist with Steering Assist.

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