Test: Lexus RZ 450e – Good, but not groundbreaking

Test: Lexus RZ 450e - Good, but not groundbreaking

Could it be that the new Lexus RZ 450e looks very familiar to me? Certainly, the new Lexus RZ 450e is on the same platform as parent company Toyota’s bZ4X, so they share a lot of technology and the wheelbase is also identical. However, the Lexus is somewhat larger in all dimensions and therefore also somewhat more spacious. In any case, with 522 liters of luggage space and a fairly spacious rear seat, there is not much to complain about the space offered by the new Lexus electric car. Up front, the RZ distances itself from the bZ4X with nicer materials and a larger touchscreen. Clearly a premium look in the interior. Great, but do you also get a little far on a full battery? To be honest, the range is a little disappointing. The net content of the battery pack is 64 kWh and on the smallest wheels (18 inches) you can travel 440 kilometers according to the WLTP cycle. In the price segment in which the RZ plays (from around € 65,000), that is no longer really impressive nowadays and the fast charging peak of 150 kW does not lift the RZ above the average. That is a pity, because the e-TNGA platform on which the RZ rests must become the basis for many electric products from the Toyota stable. Then you were definitely pedaling a lot again? No, it’s not too bad. Even with a normal driving style, the RZ is not groundbreakingly efficient and the performance is not such that you bully supercars with it. The RZ does have a different powertrain than the Toyota. All-wheel drive is standard here and you have more power. At the front is an electric motor of 150 kW, the rear motor delivers 80 kW, enough for 230 kW or 313 hp in total. With this, the RZ 450e goes from 0-100 in 5.6 seconds and is limited to 160 km / h. Neat performance, but the Lexus does not push boundaries there either. Unfortunately no frunk in the nose, but only engine technology. So the RZ has to rely on other things, like gadgets? Partly yes, and the RZ has a world first in that area. From model year 2025, it will be the first production car in the world to come onto the market with a steer-by-wire system that no longer has any physical connection to the front wheels. Unlike Infiniti earlier, there is no steering rod as a backup. The steering wheel transmits information via a sensor to the computer, which uses an electric motor to turn the front wheels. The special butterfly steering wheel can therefore only turn about 170 degrees to the left and to the right, and the computer then determines how much the front wheels will deflect based on the speed and other circumstances. At low speed, the RZ then steers hyperdirectly, at higher speed the transmission becomes more like in a normal car. Great that it is possible, but it also makes the steering somewhat unpredictable, the shape of the steering wheel is also a bit clumsy and it gets very busy with buttons and stems. Steer-by-wire with butterfly steering is fun, but doesn’t work very well. And how does the RZ drive with ‘normal’ steering? Nice. The design itself is very indirect and you have a lot of comfort on the 18-inch wheels. Lexus says it was inspired by an up-and-coming cheetah, but the emphasis was probably on ‘lazy’, because the RZ is especially very comfortable. Due to a low center of gravity, the car is solid on the road, but if you start cutting corners with more enthusiasm, the weight of more than 2,000 kilograms will emphatically push through. If you drive quietly, the picture is much better. Then the RZ springs with a lot of suppleness and handles bumps with above-average grace for such a heavy car.

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