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Lexus RZ450e 2023: fully-electric luxury midsize SUV revealed with 400km of range


After a long history with hybrid powertrains, Lexus has gone all-in on electric vehicles and aims to make a strong first impression

Lexus has unveiled its fully-electric midsize SUV known as the RZ450e – an EV  that will likely make its way to Australia in 2023.

The RZ450e serves as a fully-electric alternative to the recently released NX midsize SUV and marks an important first step for the Lexus brand which plans to only offer EVs by 2035.

Lexus has unveiled the fully-electric RZ450e midsize SUV

While the RZ450e is based on the same dedicated electric ‘e-TNGA’ underpinnings as the Toyota BZ4X and Subaru Solterra twins, Lexus has outlined a number of points of difference that its says will make the RZ450e not only more luxurious but also better to drive.

When it arrives on Australian shores, the RZ450e will face-off against a growing segment of luxury electric SUVs including the BMW iX3, Mercedes-Benz EQB/EQC and Tesla Model Y.

RZ450e to feature 400km of range

While details are limited, Lexus has estimated the RZ450e will be capable of a ‘cruising range’ of 400km when equipped with its Direct4 all-wheel-drive system.

The figure is a notable dip from the 470km (WLTP) range offered in the AWD BZ4X and 516km in the FWD version.

The potential availability of a FWD option for the RZ450e remains undisclosed, but Lexus says at least 90 percent of the RZ’s 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery will be retained over 10 years.

Lexus says the RZ450e has a cruising range of 400km

Luxury now electrified

Taking design cues from the Tazuna concept and recently released NX, the RZ450e debuts a familiar but evolved design featuring a single-band LED tail-light running across the back of the car underneath a split ducktail spoiler.

With less need to cool down the car while driving, Lexus has also blocked out the grille – as it did on the concept – but has retained traditional side mirrors, unlike some other luxury brands such as Audi which are experimenting with smaller digital mirrors.

As part of Lexus’s new human-centred design approach, the RZ450e features a large touchscreen that faces the driver and still features physical buttons for climate control – similar to its combustion-powered NX sibling.

Like the BZ4X, the Lexus features a yoke-style steering wheel but with a more aggressive design – though it’s not clear if this will be offered in the Australian market.

One advantage of the simplified steering-wheel design is the increased visibility of the digital driver’s display that sits underneath a head-up display.

Lexus has trimmed the interior in a mixture of materials including Ultrasuede, which consists of 30 percent bio-based sustainable materials.

By using a dedicated electric platform, Lexus says it has been able to unlock more room inside the interior with up to 1000mm of distance between the front and rear passengers, and has created a quieter cabin by designing the battery to act as a sound insulator.

Designers have introduced the ‘e-latch’ electric door handle system found on the NX to the RZ450e, which will also offer a panoramic sunroof with the ability to block out 99 percent of UV light – a feature that will no doubt be welcome in the hot Australian sun.

How big is the RZ450e?

Measuring 4805mm long, the RZ450e could essentially be classed as a large SUV – a categorisation backed up by its broad 1895mm width.

However, the RZ’s 2850mm wheelbase is more in keeping with other premium midsize SUV competitors, and likewise its 1635mm height and standard 20-inch wheels.

With less need to cool things down Lexus has blocked out the front grille

Electric Direct4 to enhance performance

Lexus has pointed to a long history of using hybrid powertrains that has allowed it to fine-tune the dynamics of the RZ450e to provide a comfortable but quick experience.

This can be seen under acceleration where the RZ450e varies its front-to-rear torque ratio from 60:40 to 40:60 to smooth out power delivery, while in the corners torque can vary between each side of the car to provide greater response.

Powering the RZ450e is a 150kW motor at the front wheels and an 80kW motor at the rear – though more powerful options are expected to follow.

Similar to the Genesis GV80 large SUV, Lexus will use frequency-reactive dampers which scan the road surface for bumps and react accordingly, and will also offer ‘performance dampers’ on some grades – likely those emblazoned with an F Sport badge.

Lexus has fitted the RZ450e with raft of safety features including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and AEB, along with a driver-monitoring system capable of bringing the car to a standstill and alerting the necessary authorities if the driver falls asleep at the wheel.

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