There’s a lot to unpack from the massive Toyota EV event held overnight, including our first full look at the exterior of the upcoming Lexus RZ.
It’s not the first EV from Lexus — that honour goes to the UX300e — but it will be the brand’s first model to ride on a dedicated EV architecture.
Dubbed e-TNGA, it serves as the underpinnings for the Toyota bZ4X, as well as the Subaru Solterra. While the bZ4X and Solterra’s differences lie primarily with their branding and front bumper treatment, the Lexus RZ will look significantly different from its relatives.
The unique sheetmetal mixes cues from the second-generation NX and the LF-Z concept.
The front bumper has dark grey highlights where air intakes might reside on a car fitted with a powerful internal combustion engine.
Thankfully the RZ doesn’t feature a fake grille, as we’ve seen on EVs, but there’s a raised section that’s clearly inspired by the company spindle grille.
Along the side, there are dark grey wheel arch protectors, a pair of smoothed-out character lines on the doors, and a blacked-out C-pillar. Unlike the bZ4X and Solterra, the RZ doesn’t feature a third side window.
When viewed from the side we can see the RZ sits closers to the ground than most ICE crossovers. The company says this is necessary because “the aerodynamics’ requirements are more important [in an EV] than for a more conventional product”.
At the rear, the RZ features a heavily raked tailgate, a thin strip of tail-lights that stretches the full width of the car, and the Lexus word mark in place of its logo.
In the US, at least, the RZ will be branded as the RZ450e with one of its drivetrain options. The RZ will be available with the new Direct4 all-wheel drive system.
At a European event at the beginning of December, Pascal Ruch said the RZ will have than the bZ4X and Solterra, and Direct4 can “instantly shift between front-, rear- and all-wheel drive as circumstances dictate” so the RZ will have “incredible cornering and roadholding”.
Speaking with Koji Sato, president of Lexus, while driving the new RZ Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s CEO, noted that “while I do feel the 4 wheel contact sensation… this car feels a bit heavy”.
Those thoughts disappeared when he Toyoda-san mashed the accelerator pedal to floor.
The CEO then exclaimed “I’m seeing a whole new side of this car now!”
Details about the RZ450e’s drivetrain have yet to be revealed, but it’s possible it will be gutsier than the 160kW dual-motor setup available in the bZ4X and Solterra.
The AWD bZ4X and Solterra boast a 0-100km/h time of 7.7s, and a range of 460km from its 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Both the Solterra and bZ4X support AC charging up to 6.6kW, and DC charging at up to 150kW.
We’ll know more when the Lexus RZ has its full global debut in 2022.
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