aboard the new Japanese electric SUV

Lexus officially unveils its RZ SUV, based on a specific electric platform. With 313 hp and a Yoke steering wheel, it opened its doors to us.

Last December, Lexus announced its wish become a 100% electric brand in 2030. An ambitious goal, especially because the 100% electric models in the range are quite few today. To do this, the Japanese manufacturer plans to market a new electric SUV, developed on a specific basis for battery-powered models as opposed to the electric Lexus UX, which is a derivative of the thermal SUV.

Does this Lexus sound? Normal! The manufacturer had already introduced a first concept car, the LF-Z, in March 2021, followed by a second prototype closer to the series, in December 2021. This almost definitive model gave indications of the style, with a sharp design and dynamic lines. , starting from the bottom up. And if the volumes also remember something, it’s normal: it’s the same base as the technical twins Toyota bZ4x and Subaru Solterra. Lexus, a premium subsidiary of Toyota, takes over the e-TNGA platform for electric SUVs revealed a few months ago.

Recognizable Lexus style

The new RZ is slightly larger than the latter with 4.80 m in length, against the 4.69 m of the Toyota and Subaru. The wheelbase is generous with 2.85 m long. The electric SUV is 1.90 m wide and 1.64 m high. Comes standard with large 20-inch wheels pushed into all four corners. On the front, we recognize the Lexus style despite a unique grille. It takes on the trapezoidal shape of the Lexus of recent years. But this time, it’s completely full and painted, it requires electricity. This element is framed by air intakes hidden in imposing black elements, just below the headlights. These adopt the L-shaped light signature on the front, typical of the recent Lexus.

The very submerged hood and short front overhang feature the front end while the relatively flat roof to the wide panel of the room and the very sloping rear window almost resemble a coupe. The impression of dynamism is reinforced by the hollow sides (extension of the front wing to the top of the doors, sill with a line that rises slightly, etc.) and by the glass that rises slightly to the rear before stabilize like a tray on top. the light room. The door handles are fixed, and contain an electric push button to open the leaves. At the top of the tailgate is a double spoiler separated into two parts. A thin strip of light fits the full width of the tailgate, like the NX and UX.

Techno cockpit and electronic steering

On board, the architecture is amazing, especially in this presentation version equipped with the new Yoke-type steering wheel, reminiscent of Tesla. This butterfly-shaped steering wheel includes an unprecedented One Motion Grip email address. The F1 steering wheel is not connected to a regular steering column, as it is a electronic address called Steer-by-wire. As a result, the driver benefits from a more direct and precise steering, with only 150 degrees of turning left or right to turn. The 7-inch digital counters are placed higher, reminiscent of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit. In the center of the dashboard is a large 14-inch multimedia screen for managing radio, navigation, or settings. Well, the physical controls of the air conditioning have been maintained with beautiful buttons that show the temperature in the center.

The entire dashboard is high quality, with rewarding inserts and leather, which can be colored. The center mirror is replaced by a slab that emits the images of the cameras and sensors placed on the trunk door. In the center console, a circle-shaped gearbox control is reminiscent of what Jaguar and Land Rover offer. in some of its models. Another innovation on board: the panoramic roof adopts an unprecedented shut-off technology directly on the window, instead of a manual or electric sliding shutter. The glass becomes opaque at the touch of a button on the ceiling light. Finally, the doors are opened by an aluminum-style electric knob on the door handle.

space on board

In terms of modularity, we highlight plenty of space at the rear thanks to the generous wheelbase and the electric batteries placed under the ground, which free up legroom. Despite the sloping rear roof, the headroom is also very decent. The service tunnel, which even leaves room for the middle passenger’s legs, is removed, although the center backrest is a little harder than for the side seats. The generous trunk (Lexus does not give an exact volume at the moment) would be as large as the NX, which carries 550 liters of memory. A double bottom contains space for charging cables.

313 hp and more than 400 km of autonomy

Lexus offers the RZ a unique configuration with two electric motors, one on each axis. The front engine is identical to the UX 300e and develops 150 kW (204 hp). The rear engine develops 80 kW (109 hp). The accumulated power is increased to 230 kW, or the equivalent of 313 hp. The torque offered by the assembly is 435 Nm. However, the top speed is limited to 160 km / h. The brand does not advertise the 0 to 100 km / h, nor the total weight of the SUV. The RZ comes standard with a new Direct4 all-wheel drive. Use ECU sensors to analyze information (speed, steering angle, gravitational forces) to apply the correct torque to each wheel to maximize grip and traction. According to Lexus, the front / rear torque distribution can vary in milliseconds with this new system, which is faster than any mechanical system.

The lithium-ion battery is placed under the passenger compartment and consists of 96 cells. It offers a total capacity of 71.4 kW, like the Toyota bZ4x. Thanks to its positioning, it contributes to the low center of gravity of the car. Official autonomy is not yet announced, however Lexus evokes “over 400 km” in the WLTP mixed cycle according to their estimates. Consumption would be measured at less than 18 kWh per 100 km. We will have to wait for the official approval and the first tests to confirm these figures. For the record, the Toyota bZ4x offers two variants of 204 and 218 hp, with an identical 71.4 kWh battery that offers between 460 and 530 km range.

First deliveries in 2023

The Lexus RZ can be booked by French customers from April 20, in its high-end version equipped with all new technologies, including the Steer-By-Wire steering wheel. Deliveries of these reserved models will be made during the second quarter of 2023. The first vehicles available, without the Steer-By-Wire steering wheel, will arrive at dealerships a little earlier, starting in January 2023. Prices have not yet been revealed, but should be relatively high given the premium position of this SUV, designed as a technological showcase of the brand. On the other hand, the two-tone variant presented here should not be sold in France, after a surprising decision by Lexus France. However, other European countries will be entitled to it. The laws of marketing are decidedly impenetrable.

Photos: N.Mohamed, Lexus.

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