A new era has begun for Lexus battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and the Lexus Electrified vision, with the world premiere of the RZ 450e. Built on a dedicated platform, it heralds the transition of Lexus into a BEV-centred brand.
The RZ also embodies the unique Lexus vehicle design and driving experience brought on by advanced electrification technologies and know-how cultivated over many years through hybrid-vehicle development.
As a result, high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, Lexus-first silicon carbide elements in the inverters and the incorporation of low-loss technologies deliver an estimated single-charge cruising range of 400km.
Fundamental performance is greatly evolved by using a BEV-specific platform (e-TNGA), adopting a lightweight and highly rigid body and implementing optimal weight distribution through ideal placement of the batteries and motor.
In addition, a new yoke-like steering control and steer-by-wire, along with the new DIRECT4 all-wheel drive force distribution system, enables vehicle control that is faithful to the driver’s every intention – a key trait of the Lexus driving signature.
The RZ also features the latest Lexus Safety System +, which incorporates new driver-assist technologies, including the ability to bring the vehicle to a stop and notify emergency services if the driver is drowsy or having difficulty driving.
Lexus Safety System + can also help reduce driver fatigue in traffic jams and activate advanced remote-control parking through a connected smartphone.
Its reveal follows the recent introduction of the new NX and LX SUVs, and aims to establish the design language of the next generation of Lexus vehicles. The RZ’s athletic design conveys a unique identity, with optimised proportions and aerodynamic efficiency.
The elimination of the internal combustion engine results in a new signature front end design, with a distinct BEV silhouette, starting with a low nose, with a cabin that features a rearward peak that contributes to ample rear-seat headroom.
Aerodynamics and driving stability benefit from a distinctive roof spoiler. The ducktail shape on the end of the boot reduces drag and generates downforce for a stable driving feel. The rear features the spelled-out LEXUS logo as part of a clean and simple horizontal design.
The interior presents a minimalist yet airy and luxurious environment, exuding a sense of refinement, high-quality craftsmanship and functional essence. It’s based on the innovative tazuna concept, a human-centred philosophy that welcomes occupants.
As a result, it features intuitive controls oriented around the driver, ensuring maximum concentration on driving. The application of shift-by-wire has resulted in a Lexus-first dial shift knob mounted on the centre console.
The RZ’s long wheelbase provides spacious rear-seat accommodation with a couple distance of 1000mm. Three types of seat materials are also used, including Ultrasuede, a refined material that uses 30 per cent bio-based sustainable materials.
An electronic “e-latch” system is used to operate the doors while highly efficient Lexus-first electric radiant heaters, combined with a heat-pump system, ensure passenger ambient comfort.
An available panoramic roof provides heat shielding, thermal insulation and 99 per cent UV protection, and includes a Lexus-first dimming function, which instantly blocks light according to the needs of the occupants.
The underfloor battery functions as a sound barrier, the bonnet perimeter is sealed to eliminate noise caused by turbulent airflow and acoustic glass suppresses other unwanted sounds.
On the road, the RZ delivers impressive fundamental acceleration, steering and braking performance, adopting high-precision motor torque control, as well as optimal battery and motor placement, to achieve ideal weight distribution and high response.
The DIRECT4 system uses acceleration, cornering-speed and steering-angle information to automatically adjust front-rear torque delivery and braking force to all four wheels by utilising a front and rear e-axle.
Each is equipped with a high-torque electric motor, transaxle and inverter in a compact unit. As each motor is directly connected to the wheels by a single driveshaft, it operates without delay.
The front e-axle is packaged with a short front-rear layout, while the rear e-axle features a low-profile layout for maximum interior and cargo space. DIRECT4 also provides an ideal balance of predictability and excitement.
From standstill and during straight-line acceleration, the system uses a front-to-rear drive-force ratio between 60:40 and 40:60 for minimum vehicle pitch.
When the steering wheel is turned, drive force is biased to the front wheels between 50 and 75 per cent for nimble response and excellent steering feel.
When exiting a corner, torque distribution to the rear wheels is increased to between 50 and 80 per cent, ensuring ample traction while controlling vehicle pitch.
A new AHB-G (Active Hydraulic Booster-G) independently controls increased efficiency of the front and rear regenerative braking, ensuring it is seamless, direct and controlled under the direction of the Lexus driving signature platform.
The RZ rides on a front MacPherson strut suspension setup, while its rear uses a trailing arm double-wishbone configuration. For the first time, Lexus uses frequency-reactive dampers that alter the damping force on the extension stroke.
This provides a high level of handling stability without compromising ride comfort. Available front and rear performance dampers reduce unnecessary body movement and provide more direct response too.
As well as the safety features already mentioned, the RZ also features advanced drive (traffic-jam support to reduce fatigue) and advanced park (with a remote function that lets the driver use a smartphone to manoeuvre the car).
The Japanese luxury car maker plans a suite of hybrid, BEV and PHEV vehicles as part of its Lexus Electrified vision, and plans to offer a full line-up of BEVs in all categories by 2030. Five years later, Lexus plans to be selling only BEVs.