As part of the new way forward called the ‘Lexus Electrified’ vision, the brand plans to transition completely to battery electric vehicles (BEV) by the year 2035. In such, the first installment on this path is the all-new 2023 Lexus RZ 450e.
The new crossover BEV is based on the same Toyota backed platform architecture as the Toyota BZ4X and the Subaru Solterra known as e-TNGA, It shares the same 112-inch wheelbase as the others but has a 189-inch length.
This places the Lexus RZ 450e between the Lexus NX and RX in size – some 7-inches longer than the NX but 3-inches shorter than the RX. The RZ 450e is less tall however than both by approximately 3-inches with a total height of 64-inches.
In spite of sharing its chassis and underlying mechanicals with the Toyota and Subaru, the Lexus shares not a square-inch of sheet-metal with either, presenting its own brand styling with the fashion and art of its trademark Spindle Grille treatment and taut by draped lines on the exterior.
The cabin is traditional Lexus however with rich materials combined with a level of technological features expected in a luxury car. With a minimalist modern design theme, materials are deliberately sustainable with ultra-suede material spanning seating and door panels as well as natural looking wood-grain trims.
It’s long wheelbase and completely flat floor and lots of space both front and rear. A standard panoramic roof can be switched from clear to opaque at the flick of a switch to change the mood. Like most contemporary Lexus models a fully features 14-inch touchscreen multimedia user interface and audio system will be center stage.
Under the floor is a large flat 71.4 kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack that powers an electric motor at the front and rear axles for AWD traction – a system Lexus calls DIRECT4. The front motor makes 201 horsepower, the rear motor 107.
It’s not cumulative however. While precise specifications have not yet been released, we expect it to be the same as the Toyota BZ4X at 215 system horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. A nice bonus is that the system can virtually direct torque output to the front or rear axles between 100:0 and 0:100 and any variation between to effect its dynamic handling parameters.
The system can vary front-to-rear torque distribution between 60:40 and 40:60 to minimize vehicle pitch during launch and straight-line acceleration, giving a more direct acceleration feel and minimizing torque steer for instance.
Add this versatility to a near 50:50 weight distribution and low center of gravity afforded by its battery location, the Lexus RZ should be able to offer up some exhilarating handling. Later down the road Lexus also plans to offer a drive-by-wire steering system that will allow for faster and more intuitive steering dynamics.
More detailed specifications and pricing for the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is expected closer to its on sale date in late 2022.