By Otsile Kadiege
Lexus recently unveiled the latest addition to their ever-growing range of SUVs – the all-new RZ 450e. The newcomer is an all-new battery electric vehicle and the first Lexus electric vehicle to be developed from the ground up. The electric RZ boasts a striking exterior design with signature Lexus design cues, a new Toyota-Lexus platform, an electric drivetrain, a new all-wheel drive system, a new yoke steering wheel and various technologies.
The new RZ 450e bears Lexus’ familiar design philosophy accentuated by signature design cues. With no internal combustion engine, the bonnet has been lowered and the intake openings have been reduced. The spindle grille has been a signature feature of Lexus models for the past decade, but with the new RZ the spindle shape has evolved three dimensionally and has been applied instead to the vehicle’s body. The grille is flanked by newly-designed, ultra-slim headlights with Lexus’ signature L-motif.
As is the case with modern Lexus models, the new RZ features striking body lines and a uniquely designed C-pillar. The new RZ is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard while higher grades increases the wheel size to 20-inches. Its rear-end has a high-tech look thanks to a hallmark feature like the elongated light bar which spreads across the width of the car. It’s also fitted with a split rear roof spoiler which extends the design’s rearward flow and is said to contribute to the car’s stable performance.
Interior design and technology
Inside, the new RZ’s cockpit is an evolution of the Tazuna concept. The cabin looks futuristic thanks to the optional yoke steering wheel with One Motion Grip system. The technology is said to require less steering effort from the driver; with only a 150-degree turn of the yoke needed to move from the straight ahead to left or right lock. Lexus adds that there will be no need for hand-over-hand turns. Lower specification models feature a traditional three-spoke multifunction steering wheel.
Other interior highlights include a dimmable panoramic sunroof, a digital instrument cluster, head-up display and a 14-inch multimedia display which debuted on the new Lexus NX. The latter is running on the all-new Lexus Link multimedia platform which Lexus claims is faster, more intuitive and features increased functions for connectivity, efficient journey planning and information. There is also a new “Hey Lexus” on-board assistant, and smartphone integration is enabled via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The RZ uses a lithium-ion battery in a stack comprising 96 cells, with a total output of 71.4 kWh. It is located entirely beneath the cabin and forms an integral part of the dedicated EV e-TNGA platform. Its position also contributes the car’s low centre of gravity. Details of the vehicle’s driving range and battery charging times will be announced at a later date, but Lexus expects the RZ will be able to cover more than 400 km in the combined WLTP cycle.
The RZ uses the Lexus’ e-Axle that was first introduced in the UX 300e. This is a compact, modular package which consists of a motor, gearing and an ECU, located between the driven wheels. On the RZ they are used front and rear and operate in conjunction with the Direct4 all-wheel drive control system to adjust the vehicle’s posture, traction and power distribution, according to the driving conditions.
Safety and driver assistance systems
The RZ benefits from the advanced active safety and driver assistance systems featured in the latest, third generation of Lexus Safety System + with upgraded and additional functions and increased scope for accident risk detection.
Further advances introduced with the new RZ include Proactive Driving Assist with steering assist and a new monitor to check driver behaviour for signs of fatigue or distraction. Proactive Driving Assist uses the front camera to determine the angle of a bend, adjusting the steering appropriately when approaching and making a turn.
The new model has not yet been confirmed for South Africa but will be available for European customers to reserve as from April 20, ahead of the first vehicle deliveries from the end of 2022.
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