Driving report Lexus RZ 450e: The quiet stepper with steering bones

Akio Toyoda is a perfectionist and does not forgive any deficits in the vehicles of his group. That is why the new type of steering in the Lexus RZ 450e will only be used in two years. “We can do that even better,” he told his developers and sent them on to another round. With this technology, there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels; instead, the driver’s steering commands are sent to the wheels via an electrical controller.

If the RZ 450e is equipped with the new type of steering, it therefore does not have a conventional steering wheel, but rather a control unit such as is otherwise used in aircraft. The new steering will also be offered in the brand’s other new models. The RZ 450e will be in dealerships on April 17th. “The first orders for the launch edition will be with customers after two months,” promises Lexus general manager Nadine Busch.

The RZ450e is the first representative of the brand that was developed exclusively for electric drive and uses the new drive with motors on the front and rear axles and is also equipped with the new Direct 4 all-wheel drive control. The system output reaches 230 kW and accelerates the RZ 450e to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds. The top speed is reached at 160 km/h. Lexus promises a range of 440 kilometers if the electric SUV is equipped with 18-inch wheels. With 20-inch wheels, the Lexus has a maximum range of 395 kilometers.

The RZ 450e is a typical representative of the brand, and the new type of steering with its “steering bones” only requires a brief rethink. It is already working with such precision that the person behind the wheel is wondering what the technicians can still improve. Especially on winding roads and when maneuvering, there is no need to change your grip, which is usual with conventional steering systems, and one grip is enough to maneuver the Lexus in the required direction.

When the system is introduced in two years, there will be additional costs for customers. However, it is still unknown how high the surcharge will be. Regardless of the steering, however, the turning circle of the 4.8 meter long SUV could have been a little more manageable. The maximum trailer load is also manageable at 750 kilos.

But back to the present. Even with conventional rack and pinion steering, the RZ450e is easy to control and does not pose any problems for the person behind the wheel. The “vegan” interior is, as usual from the brand, elegantly furnished, the instruments are clearly arranged, the (optional) audio system by Mark Levinson provides the sound for the journey and can fully demonstrate its strength in view of the silence in the generously dimensioned interior. Electric cars are always acoustically reserved, and the RZ450e is even better than its competitors in this discipline. Wind noise only becomes noticeable above 140 km/h.

Lexus promises 16.8 kWh for the variants with 18 inch wheels and 18.7 kWh for 20 inch wheels. On a first trip in southern France, the computer reported 22.6 kWh. The range varies depending on the selected driving setting (Normal, Eco, Range or Sport). Range takes the RZ450e the furthest, but then the top speed is limited to 100 km/h, and comfort settings such as the automatic climate control also stop working. The Eco setting therefore offers the best compromise, coupled with the use of the four recuperation options that can be controlled via shift paddles on the steering wheel and significantly improve the range.

The 71.4 kWh battery placed in the floor of the car can be charged to 80 percent in 30 minutes at the fast charging station. Lexus promises a performance of at least 70 percent after ten years for the energy storage and grants a corresponding guarantee. The RZ 450e is equipped with the Lexus Safety System plus including Safe Exit Assist, a proactive driving assistant with steering assistance and a monitor that monitors the driver for signs of drowsiness or distraction.

The price list starts at 68,000 euros for the basic version. Including the Executive Package, 72,600 euros change hands. The Launch Edition costs at least 74,700 euros, and the Luxury version starts at 78,100 euros.

The RZ450e is the continuation of the electrification offensive of Toyota’s premium brand. “By 2026 we will be offering a fully electric model in every segment,” says Nadine Busch, looking ahead. This also includes “a high-volume model”, which is intended to round off the model range downwards in order to also bind younger customers to the brand. With the CT 200, a compact Lexus was already on offer. The new compact Lexus should also help to double registrations in Germany to 7000 models. (cen/Walther Wuttke)

Data: Lexus RZ 450e

Length x width x height (m): 4.80 x 1.89 x 1.63
Wheelbase (m): 2.85
Drive: 2 electric motors, AWD
Total power: 230 kW / 313 hp
Top speed: 160 km/h
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 5.3 seconds
Electric range: 440 km (WLTP)
WLTP average consumption: 16.8 kWh
CO2 emissions: 0 g/km (WLTP)
Curb weight (EU)/ payload: min. 2055 kg / max. 585 kg
Price: 68,000 euros

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