Autofocus: 2023 Lexus RZ 450e European Version unveiled

Lexus Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are entering a groundbreaking chapter with the global debut of the all-new RZ 450e, marking the initiation of a transformative era for Lexus and its Electrified vision. Representing the brand’s inaugural BEV constructed on a dedicated platform, the RZ signifies Lexus’ shift towards becoming a BEV-centric brand.

The RZ not only showcases the distinctive design and driving experience synonymous with Lexus but also integrates cutting-edge electrification technologies honed over years of hybrid-vehicle development. Featuring high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, pioneering silicon carbide elements in the inverters, and the application of low-loss technologies, the RZ boasts an impressive estimated single-charge cruising range of 400 km.

Elevating fundamental performance, the RZ adopts a BEV-specific platform (e-TNGA), incorporating a lightweight and highly rigid body with optimal weight distribution achieved through strategic placement of batteries and motor components.

Introducing innovations like a yoke-like steering control and steer-by-wire, alongside the novel DIRECT4 all-wheel drive force distribution system, the RZ delivers a driving experience aligned with the driver’s every intention – a defining characteristic of the Lexus Driving Signature.

Moreover, the RZ is equipped with the latest Lexus Safety System +, featuring new driver-assist technologies. This includes the capability to bring the vehicle to a halt and alert emergency services if the driver shows signs of drowsiness or difficulty in driving. Addressing driver fatigue in traffic jams and enabling advanced remote-control parking via a connected smartphone further enhance the comprehensive safety features of Lexus Safety System + in the RZ.

BEV design shaped by aerodynamic performance

Building on the recent debut of the all-new Lexus NX and Lexus LX SUVs, the RZ sets out to define the design language for the next era of Lexus vehicles, focusing on a distinctive identity and proportions derived from dynamic driving.

The RZ’s athletic design communicates a unique Lexus BEV identity through meticulously optimized proportions and aerodynamic efficiency.

The absence of an internal combustion engine prompts a visual transformation, with the iconic spindle grille making way for a BEV spindle body. This adaptation signifies the seamless acceleration and dynamic performance inherent to BEVs.

The characteristic BEV silhouette commences with a sleek, low nose and gracefully extends toward the cabin, culminating in a rearward peak that enhances rear-seat headroom.

A special roof spoiler contributes to aerodynamics and driving stability. The ducktail shape at the rear of the boot not only reduces drag but also generates downforce, imparting a stable driving experience. The rear design showcases the spelled-out LEXUS logo within a clean, horizontal layout that accentuates the wider rear track, emphasizing the RZ’s performance-oriented identity.

Inside, the cabin presents a minimalist yet spacious and luxurious ambiance, radiating refinement, top-tier craftsmanship, and a functional essence.

In line with the innovative tazuna concept, the interior advances Lexus’ human-centered philosophy by embracing occupants with intuitive controls oriented around the driver. This ensures maximum focus on driving, emphasizing the brand’s commitment to an immersive and connected driving experience.

The implementation of shift-by-wire technology introduces a groundbreaking Lexus-first dial shift knob, prominently positioned on the center console of the RZ.

Benefiting from a lengthy wheelbase, the RZ ensures spacious rear-seat accommodations, offering a generous couple distance of 1000 mm.

The seating experience is enhanced with three distinct seat materials, including Ultrasuede—a sophisticated material utilizing 30% bio-based sustainable materials.

Operated by an electronic “e-latch” system, the doors of the RZ exemplify efficiency, while Lexus-first electric radiant heaters, coupled with a heat pump system, guarantee optimal passenger comfort.

For those seeking an expansive view, an optional panoramic roof not only provides heat shielding, thermal insulation, and 99% UV protection but also introduces a groundbreaking Lexus-first dimming function. This feature allows instantaneous light blocking, catering to the specific preferences of the occupants.

A paramount focus on interior acoustics characterizes the RZ, achieving a harmonious balance between sound generation and a remarkably quiet interior space—a hallmark of Lexus DNA. The underfloor battery serves as an effective sound barrier, the perimeter of the bonnet is meticulously sealed to eliminate noise from turbulent airflow, and acoustic glass efficiently suppresses undesirable sounds.

In alignment with the Lexus Electrified vision, engineers have fine-tuned sound frequencies to correspond with the vehicle’s speed and dynamic actions such as acceleration, showcasing Lexus’ commitment to an immersive and refined driving experience.

Evolution of the Lexus Driving Signature through Electrification

The RZ showcases remarkable foundational acceleration, steering, and braking performance, embodying the Lexus Driving Signature—a distinctively Lexus driving experience designed to deliver a predictable, linear response aligned with the driver’s intentions.

Leveraging high-precision motor torque control and strategic battery and motor placement, the new Lexus BEV achieves optimal weight distribution and heightened responsiveness.

Taking the Lexus Driving Signature to greater heights, the innovative DIRECT4 system utilizes real-time data on acceleration, cornering speed, and steering angle to dynamically adjust front-rear torque delivery and braking force across all four wheels.

Comprising front and rear e-axles, each equipped with a potent electric motor, transaxle, and inverter in a compact unit, the DIRECT4 system ensures instantaneous response without delay. The front e-axle features a short front-rear layout, while the rear e-axle adopts a low-profile design to maximize interior and cargo space.

The intuitive and highly responsive operation of DIRECT4 establishes a profound connection between the driver and the vehicle, striking an ideal balance between predictability and excitement. It delivers powerful, linear acceleration and exhilarating cornering, adapting the drive-force ratio during different scenarios.

During standstill and straight-line acceleration, the system optimizes a front-to-rear drive-force ratio between 60:40 and 40:60 to minimize vehicle pitch. As the steering wheel turns, drive force bias shifts to the front wheels for nimble response and exceptional steering feel. Exiting a corner sees an increased torque distribution to the rear wheels, ranging from 50 to 80 percent, ensuring robust traction while maintaining control over vehicle pitch.

The Active Hydraulic Booster-G (AHB-G) independently manages enhanced front and rear regenerative braking efficiency, seamlessly aligning with the directives of the Lexus Driving Signature.

A groundbreaking steer-by-wire system, a Lexus-first, enhances vehicle maneuverability and inspires confidence, filtering out unnecessary vibrations from tires and brakes. The compact yoke-like steering wheel reduces the driver’s workload, eliminating the need for hand-over-hand maneuvers during intersections, U-turns, parking, and winding roads. This design innovation also facilitates lower placement of instrument gauges, contributing to an optimized driver experience.

Dedicated BEV platform benefits from hybrid know-how

The RZ is built upon a groundbreaking Lexus-first dedicated BEV platform (e-TNGA), showcasing elevated levels of stability and ride comfort. This platform strategically places the battery beneath the vehicle floor, contributing to an impressively low center of gravity.

Leveraging technology and expertise from hybrid vehicle development, Lexus maximizes the advantages of the dedicated BEV platform, resulting in an estimated single-charge cruising range of 400 km.

Battery-control technology ensures a world-class battery capacity retention rate of at least 90% after 10 years. The inclusion of a timer charging function further enhances battery capacity by preventing overcharging.

The RZ’s suspension system combines a front MacPherson strut configuration with a rear trailing arm double-wishbone setup, striking a balance between precision and comfort.

Introducing frequency-reactive dampers, Lexus adapts the damping force on the extension stroke based on road surface frequency input. This innovation enhances handling stability without compromising ride comfort.

Front and rear performance dampers, a novel feature, minimize unnecessary body movement, providing a more direct and responsive driving experience.

Incorporating advanced manufacturing techniques such as laser screw welding, structural adhesives, and laser-peening welding, the RZ achieves superior handling stability and ride comfort.

Efficient weight reduction measures are implemented, including the use of 1,470 MPa cold-rolled steel sheets for the roof center reinforcement, lightweight aluminum for the bonnet, and molded foam resin for the door and wheel-arch moldings. These strategies collectively contribute to the RZ’s impressive balance of performance, efficiency, and comfort.

Advanced safety technologies

The RZ comes equipped with the latest Lexus Safety System +, featuring Proactive Driving Assist (PDA) designed to enhance safe and secure driving by providing support across a broader spectrum of driving scenarios.

In addition to the Pre-Collision Safety (PCS), all-speed radar cruise control, and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) systems, an optional driver monitor issues a warning if it detects signs of driver drowsiness or distraction.

If the system assesses that the driver’s posture is severely compromised, making it challenging to continue driving safely, it activates a warning to other drivers by flashing the hazard lamps and gently decelerating the vehicle. Subsequently, the system brings the vehicle to a stop within its lane, unlocks the doors, and automatically notifies emergency services through the vehicle’s connected technology.

The RZ also incorporates Advanced Drive, providing traffic-jam support, and Advanced Park, featuring a remote function—both derived from the Lexus Teammate concept.

Under certain conditions, such as during traffic jams (0-40 km/h approx.) when the driver is looking ahead and operating radar cruise control and Lane Trace Assist (LTA), Advanced Drive can assist in perception, judgment, and vehicle operation, thereby reducing driver fatigue.

Advanced Park offers extended support, enabling the driver to maneuver the car using a smartphone while standing outside the vehicle, providing added convenience and flexibility during parking maneuvers.

Lexus Electrified

The Lexus Electrified vision is committed to delivering driving exhilaration through an extensive portfolio that includes hybrid, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), surpassing the needs and expectations of a diverse range of luxury buyers.

In alignment with this vision, Lexus plans to expand its portfolio, actively contributing to the realization of a carbon-neutral society. The goal is to offer a comprehensive range of BEVs across all vehicle categories by 2030. Furthermore, Lexus aims to achieve the remarkable milestone of 100% global BEV sales five years later, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to sustainable and environmentally conscious mobility solutions.