Lexus RZ EV won’t compromise on driving pleasure [Update]

The Lexus UX 300e may be the brand’s first EV, but the model that will truly get the ball rolling for Lexus electric cars will be the Lexus RZ, the production version of the Lexus LF-Z Electrified. A report from Autocar suggests that the upcoming Lexus SUV, though packing heavy batteries, would not compromise on driving pleasure.

Pascal Ruch, Vice President – Value Chain, Lexus (Europe), talked about future Lexus electric car models with the British publication stating that electrification and driving pleasure “can go hand in hand.” Ruch tried clearing the notion that electrification can affect driving dynamics because of additional weight. He said that Koji Sato, the brand’s President and the chief engineer of the Lexus LC, and Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota, will never allow the production of a Lexus model that is boring in terms of design or driving experience.

Lexus doesn’t plan to offer the UX 300e in America, its biggest market worldwide. But for its second BEV, it has to deliver a truly global car as it goes into a highly competitive segment that is dominated by Tesla, and is fast filling up with competitors from startups and established brands. The company plans to build its contender on a newly developed, dedicated EV platform.

Lexus RZ Design & Features

Lexus RZ front three quarter
Unlike the Lexus LF-Z Electrified concept, the Lexus RZ features a non-illuminated brand logo at the front. Image Source: Noriaki Mitsuhashi/N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY

Lexus has made the RZ resemble the concept to evoke strong aspirations. Besides the sleek design, it should achieve superior dynamic performance, thanks to an optimal location of the battery pack and motor, DIRECT4 AWD (dual-motor AWD) technology, and other measures. The usage of a steer-by-wire system in the concept model clearly indicates Lexus’ focus on the driving experience. Let’s not forget the spaceship-like yoke steering either, which gives a clearer view of the instrument cluster and the road ahead.

At the front, the shape of the headlamps is that of the concept, but the graphics are different. The closed nose section has new horizontal cuts on the outer ends. The production SUV has a vertical black mask similar to the concept under the headlamps. The hood looks shorter and slopes down without a power bulge, and these changes could improve the EV’s pedestrian safety score.

On the sides, the Lexus RZ gets pull-type door handles instead of flush-fit, pop-out handles and standard ORVMs instead of camera-based mirrors. The wheel arch cladding over the front wheels doesn’t extend to leave the impression of a squarish wheel arch, and it doesn’t feature the brand logo. The production model has a charging cap securing the charging port in the front left fender. Lexus designers have reduced the tension on the sides by erasing the sharp character line of the LF-Z.

At the rear, Lexus has revised the LF-Z Electrified’s tail lamps to include transparent surfaces in some areas for the RZ. Moreover, the production model has a stoplight integrated into its ducktail spoiler. Also, note the inclusion of a shark-fin antenna on the roof. The split rear spoilers level up the aggression, and they could become one of the popular tell-tale signs of the RZ.

In addition to multi-element LED headlights and full-width LED tail lights, Lexus may offer the RZ with 20-inch alloy wheels and a large panoramic roof or a solar roof. Interior highlights may include a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, wireless phone charger, front-seat radiant foot-heating, heat pump-type AC, and optional yoke-style steering.

Variants & Specifications

Lexus RZ headlamp teaser
One of the teasers suggests that the Lexus RZ will have a variant with a body-colored panel below the headlamps. Image Source: YouTube/lexusjpchannel

The Lexus RZ will be available in a ‘450e’ variant at launch, but its specifications aren’t out yet. The Lexus LF-Z Electrified concept can accelerate from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3 seconds. Lexus estimates it can offer a range of 600 km or 373 miles in the concept version. While the Lexus RZ is unlikely to have these very specifications, the Toyota bZ4X‘s numbers could be the reference point.

The U.S.-spec bZ4X will come in an FWD variant and an AWD variant. The FWD variant will have a 150 kW (201 hp) motor and a 71.4 kWh battery pack. The AWD variant will have two motors providing a combined power of 160 kW (214 hp) and a 72.8 kWh battery pack. Toyota expects the FWD variant to deliver an EPA-est. range of up to 250 miles, but it hasn’t given an estimate for the AWD variant, which understandably would have a smaller range.

The dual-motor RZ will be the brand’s first model available with its new Direct4 AWD system that independently controls the four wheels. Using the electric motors’ instant responsiveness, the new torque distribution technology freely controls the EV’s four wheels to provide the drive system that best suits the prevailing driving situation.

Release Date

Lexus has confirmed that it will launch the RZ in Japan in the first half of 2022. U.S. buyers can look forward to this model hitting the local dealerships in the second half of the year. The RZ’s production will likely take place alongside the bZ4X at Toyota’s Motomachi Plant.

Lexus aims to go fully electric in North America, Europe, and China and sell a million EVs by 2030. Including the RZ, there are potentially seven Lexus EV models awaiting launch this decade.

Lexus electric SUV FAQs

What is the Lexus RZ release date?

Following the unveiling in the coming months, the Lexus RZ (production Lexus LFZ) should go on sale in the second half of 2022.

What will be the Lexus RZ price?

The base variant of the production Lexus RZ could cost around USD 55,000.

Which models are chief competitors to the Lexus RZ?

The Tesla Model Y and the Audi Q4 e-tron would be the main challengers.

Featured Image Source: Toyota Motor Corporation