This is the first electric vehicle to be sold by Lexus in North America
It features a 50/50 split AWD system and an available steer-by-wire steering
It has an estimated range of 225 miles (362 kilometers)
Despite having been a pioneer of hybrid technology with the RX 400h in 2005, Lexus is late to the electrification race since most of its competitors are already selling electric vehicles. This is the first of many electric Lexus models, since the company wants to have one in each of its market segments by the end of the decade and it aims to become fully electrified by 2035.
The RZ 450e is built on the new e-TNGA platform designed especially for electric vehicles, which it shares with the Toyota BZ4X and the Subaru Solterra.
Few details are currently known about its powertrain with the exception of the all-wheel drive setup. The RZ 450e will be equipped with a system called DIRECT4 which is composed of two eAxles that integrate the motor with the transaxle. The system is able to vary the power output of both motors completely, thus making it capable of providing 100% of the power to the front or the rear wheels if necessary. Under normal circumstances, the effective power split will be situated between 60:40 and 40:60. Lexus says this system improves the performance and the cornering feel by sending more torque to the rear when exiting corners.
Another technical element that has been announced is the steer-by-wire system that will be available at a later date. This steering system replaces the mechanical link between the driver and the front wheels by a set of sensors and a computer. The benefits of this system are that the steering response can be made much sharper. In the case of the RZ, Lexus claims that the maximum steering angle will be 150-degree, meaning that the steering wheel will turn less than half a turn each way to achieve full lock. This makes the vehicle more responsive on twisty roads and it eliminates the need for hand-over-hand manoeuvres for tight turns.
The automaker hasn’t reveled how much power and torque the RZ 450e will have, but since it shares its platform with the Toyota BZ4X, it could use the same motors, thus giving it a power output of approximately 215 horsepower. The range is currently estimated to be 225 miles (362 kilometers), which is similar to the lighter Toyota.
In terms of looks, the RX 450e uses the same styling cues as the other SUVs in the Lexus lineup, which makes it easily recognisable as part of the brand. An electronically-tinting glass roof is seen in the pictures and the spindle grille at the front is replaced with a smooth painted area that keeps the same shape.
Inside, the dashboard is focused on the driver, with all of the controls placed close and oriented towards to the left. According to the company, the designers took into account the available steer-by-wire system when creating the interior, which translates into a smaller steering wheel and an instrument cluster placed lower than usual.
More details about the mechanical components and its price will be known later since the Lexus RZ 450e is set to arrive on dealer lots towards the end of the year as a 2023 model.