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Lexus RZ 450e, first electric SUV with electronic steering and Yoke steering wheel


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Lexus unveils the RZ 450e, its first electric SUV based on a dedicated platform. Technical cousin of the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, this SUV is distinguished by its electronic steering (Steer-by-wire) and its Yoke steering wheel, like Tesla.

Question: Is the new Lexus RZ 450e really the first electric SUV from Toyota’s luxury subsidiary? Yes and no. Yes, because the RZ 450e is based on the e-TNGA platform specially dedicated to electrics. Moreover, this Lexus is none other than the technical cousin of the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra.

On the other hand, some will tell you that the first electric Lexus is the UX 300e, the premium version of the Toyota C-HR. The only difference with the RZ 450e, the UX 300e uses a platform originally intended for internal combustion engines.

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This new Lexus RZ 450e (4.80 m – wheelbase 2.85 m) is inserted between the NX (4.65 m) and RX (4.89 m) models from the Japanese manufacturer. Rarely, the RZ is wiser stylistically compared to the sharp lines of the Toyota bZ4X.

However, the Lexus does not leave indifferent with its full two-tone grille, electric requires. On either side of this grille, the air intakes are reduced, surmounted by headlights with the signature “L”, a distinctive sign of the brand.

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If this Lexus loses this rough-hewn side, the dynamism is present, especially at the level of the hollow sides, the wheel arches and the curved rear fenders. Another element that contributes to this dynamism, the roof line plunges into a very inclined boot window. Moreover, the rear part surprises with two spoilers positioned on the top of the trunk, a transverse light strip like the NX and UX models and a rear apron descending very low.

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F1-style half-wheel and electronic steering

At Lexus and even Toyota, the interior is the subject of special attention, with a hint of spaceship. Also, to differentiate itself from the cousin Toyota bZ4X, the central touch screen of the RZ displays a diagonal of 14 inches (35.56 cm) against 12 inches (diagonal of 30.48 cm). This incorporates rotary dials that pierce the screen, like a certain Ford Mustang Mach-E.

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The other attraction is at the level of the Yoke-type steering wheel. It is a half-flying wheel in the shape of a butterfly reminiscent of that of an F1 car or the controls of an airplane. Some will see a nod to Tesla, which also offers the same kind of steering wheel on the new Model S Plaid/Plaid+. Lexus specifies that the half-wheel remains an option.



or a traditional steering wheel.


The Lexus RZ 450e offers the optional Yoke or F1 steering wheel…

Among the technological novelties, the Lexus RZ 450e ignores the steering column and the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels. Instead, the One Motion Grip is a steering associated with the steering wheel “steer by wire“. In concrete terms, the mechanical connections have been replaced by an electric motor serving as a relay when the steering wheel is operated. It keeps “always hands on command” for a “rotation of only 150 degrees to the right or to the left from the zero point“. It will be remembered that the Infiniti (luxury brand of Nissan) had adopted the direction “by-wire” on his Q50 sedan, with more or less happiness.

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The Lexus inaugurates a new blackout panoramic roof on which has been applied a “special coating whose transparency varies electronically to reduce heat radiation“.



night, as Monsieur Jacouille would say.


Day

Added to this is a radiant heating system”positioned at knee level in front of the driver and front passenger, under the steering column and the lower part of the dashboard“. According to the Japanese manufacturer, this heating provides the same feeling as a blanket placed on the legs.

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Finally, our RZ 450e incorporates the same infotainment system as the NX, the Lexus Link connected to a cloud for navigation which allows you to be informed in real time of traffic conditions (traffic, accidents, traffic jams, etc.). Like other automakers, the Lexus is getting a new voice assistant”Hey Lexus“who promises an exchange”in a conversational tone“with its conductor, even”in case of background noise“.

Total power of 313 hp and 400 km of range

Purely electric, the Lexus RZ 450e has two electric motors, one at the front of 150 kW (204 hp) and a second at the rear of 80 kW (109 hp). The total power is 230 kW (313 hp) for a maximum torque of 435 Nm. The maximum speed is limited to 160 km/h while the 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 5.6 s.

The 96-cell lithium-ion battery with a (useful?) capacity of 71.4 kWh offers a range of 400 km (WLTP cycle). On the other hand, Lexus aims for an average fuel consumption of “less than 18kWh/100km“, a bit optimistic for our taste.

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The presence of two electric motors means that the Lexus RZ offers all-wheel drive “intelligent” Called DIRECT4. According to the manufacturer, this system uses ECU (Energy Control Unit) sensors “to collect, evaluate and react to a wide range of information such as vehicle speed, steering angle and gravitational forces. This intelligent system constantly balances the traction of all four wheels, distributing the driving force automatically and transparently for the driver.“.

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If the prices have not yet been communicated (we are nevertheless talking about a price of less than €70,000), the Lexus RZ 450e has been available for order since April 20, 2022. The versions with the classic steering wheel will be delivered in January 2023 against April 2023 for the version “steer-by-wire“. On the other hand, unlike Toyota France, Lexus France does not intend to offer two-tone colors.



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