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Lexus releases its very first BEV: the RZ450e

Lexus has flung itself headfirst into the new era of battery-electric vehicles and the collective vision of an electrified future. The brand-new Lexus RZ450e has at long last been revealed and its snazzy features definitely match the futuristic name.

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Lexus on the road
Image credit: Lexus

A first for Lexus

This is the first battery-electric vehicle (BEV) we’ve seen from Lexus, with this release heralding the transition of Lexus into a BEV-centred brand. In an already established market, the RZ450e is competing with its premium EV crossovers such as the Tesla Model Y, Audi E-Tron, BMW iX3, Mercedes-Benz EQC, and Genesis GV70 Electrified. Lexus has a target of having electric versions of all its cars by 2030 and becoming EV-only by 2035. Only thirteen years away, we’re excited to see many new models dropping.

How do BEVs work?

If you’re new to the concept of battery-electric vehicles, you’re not alone. The RZ450e is powered by an all-electric powertrain that Lexus calls Direct4. Simply speaking, this is an intelligent traction system that’s exclusive to the Lexus model. It’s due to the use of the brand’s proprietary e-Axles for propulsion, which is ultimately why it’s more powerful than Toyota and Subaru models.

Features and options

How fast does it go?

The dual-motor arrangement is said to be 300 horsepower, with fairly quick acceleration. However, we won’t be able to comment accurately until we sit behind the wheel and test the 2023 vehicle ourselves.

Driving a Lexus with a yoke-style steering wheel
Image credit: Lexus

Yoke-style steering wheel option

As we know, the yoke-style steering wheel offers a far better autopilot experience for the driver. The key advantage is that this style keeps your hands perfectly placed in the nine and three o’clock position (if you’re getting flashbacks to your driving lessons, you’ll remember this is where your hands should be.) Considered better-suited for race cars, the yoke-style steering wheel may make multi-point turns and parallel parks more difficult. All things considered, Lexus has made this style optional, so you don’t have to say goodbye to the top of your steering wheel if you think “yoke is a joke.”

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Lexus battery charging
Image credit: Lexus

Battery-life and charging

Certain details about the RZ have not yet been revealed, which is the case for information on the onboard charger and its charging capability. Going off the Toyota and Subaru models, we can likely expect to see something similar to the 6.6-kW onboard charger with DC fast-charging capabilities.

Interior of Lexus vehicle
Image credit: Lexus

Stylish interior

Less is more for the RZ, with a simplified interior featuring a relocation of many switches and buttons to the 14-inch infotainment display. It can be used by touching the screen and also by using voice commands. Lexus claim a human-centred philosophy for their vehicles, and have mirrored this with intuitive controls oriented around the driver, ensuring maximum driving concentration. 

Lexus driving down a highway with mountains in the background
Image credit: Lexus

Driver-assist

The term “team-mate” is used by Lexus to describe the traffic-jam support. If the car senses that its driver is slumped over the wheel, it can slow itself down to a gradual stop. It will then unlock the doors, and then call an ambulance by itself. Talk about a good mate. There will also be adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automated emergency braking.

Lexus under an awning being charged
Image credit: Lexus

Is it coming to Australia?

Given Australia’s slow BEV take-up, we may not be made a priority as the RZ will land in bigger markets in Europe, Asia and the U.S. first. Lexus’ Australian division has said they’d “love to get it” however there’s no news on the timing of the vehicle hitting the land-down-under as of yet.

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