After almost a lifetime of hybrids and a careful toe in the plug pool with the UX, Lexus is now really tacking: from now on you should also be able to go to them for a dedicated EV, developed from scratch as an EV. The e-TNGA platform of the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra was taken, polished, dampened and strengthened, a can of ‘Radiant Design’ was opened and presto: the Lexus RZ 450e.
You can pick it up from the third quarter of this year for Dutch prices from 67,495 euros. But, Lexus expects, you’ll probably want to order a fully loaded President Line, and it costs just under 80 grand. The price puts the new RZ in the waters of cars such as the Audi Q8 e-tron, Mercedes EQC and BMW iX3.
But also, for example, the lightning-fast top versions of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Kia EV6. And even, except for a few thousand euros, the BMW iX. Those cars differ quite a bit in terms of approach, technology and/or age, so it remains somewhat arbitrary to make a direct comparison with the Lexus. Perhaps more than ever it’s a matter of taste.
The Lexus RZ 450e doesn’t look bad
The Lexus RZ 450e brings a lot of beauty to the party anyway. For starters: that look. To be honest, it makes us happy, but we can also imagine that you find it a bit too Pokémon in this segment. The familiar spindle grille has evolved into a curved front bumper full of creases and serrations.
That fierce style continues in a profile that would shock the Toyota C-HR and ends in a high rear with a kind of devil’s horns on top (which have hopefully been tested in various car washes). Funny, daring, different than usual. And if you order it in one of the more striking colors – coppery, or this soft blue – you could even call it beautiful.
It’s nice inside the Lexus RZ 450e, too
This certainly applies to the interior, which forms around the large central screen and is equipped with wonderful seats in vegan leather or microfiber fabric. It’s a pleasant place to be, not least because of the enormous amount of space that the rear passengers in particular are treated to. A panoramic roof with dimmable glass provides an airy atmosphere and a lot of attention has clearly been paid to insulation: only at higher highway speeds does some wind noise begin to arise.
The choice of materials is questionable here and there – partly hard and partly fragile plastic on the door panels – but everything, as usual with Lexus, is excellent and squeak-free. There are even atmospheric light projections on some surfaces, and on the highest version there is energy-efficient infrared heating at the bottom of the dashboard.
Ergonomically it is correct
Lexus prides itself on having all functions at your fingertips, and indeed: even to tap the far corners of the central screen, you don’t really have to stretch your arm. There are quite a few physical buttons too, including on the steering wheel (some of which have varying functions: hold your finger down and you’ll see them in the head-up display). We would have liked another button: for the driving modes, which you now have to set via a menu. In that infotainment it is sometimes a bit of a search for functions, although we can always find what we are looking for in the end.
No yoke handlebars yet
The main attraction of the RZ is one that you cannot order for the time being: One Motion Grip steering. Lexus mounts a yoke instead of a steering wheel for this, just like Tesla; with the difference that the Japanese adjust the steering, so that you can have the front wheels steered to the limit during parking maneuvers with just over a quarter of a turn. As you pick up speed, the response becomes less direct, and on the highway you’re at a normal steering ratio.
‘Increase involvement’, says Lexus, but we doubt that: the new setup is steer-by-wire, with electric motors, without a physical steering rod between you and the wheels. As with airplanes, there’s a back-up system with its own battery, so it’ll never fail, but we wonder who really benefits from this: the driver, who has to recalibrate himself so as not to crash on every 30km/h turn take it to the curb, or the manufacturer itself (simpler construction, higher consumer price, autonomously ready).
How does the Lexus RZ 450e’s yoke ride?
About ten years ago we drove an Infiniti with steer-by-wire, and it was a total disaster. There was zero sense of connection and on a normal evasive maneuver the car caught itself off guard and went into an ESP convulsion. It was unpredictable to the point of danger. So we step into the prototype that Lexus has prepared for us with some skepticism, but it must be said: we are palpably ten years further. It takes some getting used to at low speeds, but once you get going it works very well and although there is (obviously) no real steering feel, the car responds naturally, even if you slow down while steering in a corner, for example. Very interesting.
One Motion Grip is expected in 2025; for now you order your Lexus RZ 450e with a normal steering wheel. Newsflash: That works fine too. The chassis isn’t adaptive, but is generally comfortable enough to please Lexus’ clientele. At most, on really bad road surfaces you will be shaken up a bit. In corners, the body rolls very little and the car remains nicely neutral. If you push through rudely, the power is neatly directed to where it needs to be via Lexus’ Direct4 drive brain.
Four-wheel drive and great performance
All RZs have two engines, so AWD, which together make 313 horsepower. It makes it seriously fast – 5.6 seconds from 0 to 100 – but if you use it too eagerly, you quickly run into a problem. The battery of 71.4 kWh (net 64 kWh) gives the RZ a range of 395 to 440 kilometers on paper, but our car’s estimate when we leave with a full battery is 245 kilometers.
Even if this appears to be prompted by the somewhat over-enthusiastic driving behavior of a previous driver, even with our own average test consumption of 19.6 kWh/100 km, in a normal driving mode and with normal use of comfort functions, you will only just barely come a little further than 300 kilometers. Today, that can be called ‘okay’ at best.
Fifteen-year and one-million-mile warranty
On the other hand, Lexus claims that after ten years there is at least 90 percent capacity left and that they dare to give a warranty on the battery of fifteen years and one million (!) Kilometers. If you want a bit more range: order 18-inch wheels (as in the photos) for your Lexus RZ 450e instead of 20-inch, which makes a significant difference.
Lexus has created an intriguing car with its first thoroughbred EV: a striking appearance whose humble Toyota / Subaru pedigree is nowhere to be seen or noticed. Perhaps a little daring in appearance for the class in which he operates, so he should just address you. Well, safe choices won’t get you anywhere.
Specifications Lexus RZ 450e Executive Line (2023)
2 electric motors
266 + 168 Nm
71.4 kWh (battery)
0-100 km/u in 5,6 s
top 160 km/u
16.8 kWh/100 km The label
440 km (WLTP)
6.5 hours at 11 kW
30 min. at 150 kW
4.805 x 1.895 x
1.635 mm (l x b x h)
2,850 mm (wheelbase)
522 / 1,451 l (luggage)
€ 71.495 (NL)
€ 76.600 (B)