Lexus was the first to introduce electrification to its vehicles with the RX 400h back in 2005 but it seems to have dropped the ball since, lagging others in joining the EV revolution. The RZ 450e is set to change that.
While it isn’t the first fully electric vehicle from the Japanese luxury brand (that title goes to the UX 300e launched in late 2021), the RZ is the first Lexus model built from the ground up as a fully electric car, joining the likes of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, BMW iX3, Audi e-tron and Genesis GV60.
Available in just two variants, the RZ 450e kicks off with Luxury we are driving here at $121,675 and tops out at $133,675 for the Sports Luxury – both excluding on-road costs.
Regardless of the variant, both are powered by the same compact 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery developing 230kW of power and 435Nm of instantaneous torque to all four wheels. Driving range is claimed to be 470km but more about that later.
It’s an important car for Lexus, for in order for it to succeed, it needs to be a compelling alternative to its established rivals not just in terms of driving range and luxury, but technology.
So, how does the Lexus RZ 450e stack up against its rivals? Let’s find out.
The RZ makes a good first impression and is arguably one of the most beautiful electric SUVs on the market today. Its proportion is spot on and there are no awkward lines or creases to assault your eyes with.
The once controversial spindle grille has also evolved into its attractive current form which integrates seamlessly into the overall front fascia – blanked out in the electric RZ.
Side on, the blacked-out C-pillar reduces the visual weight on the rear quarter but the 18-inch alloy wheels is on the small side.
Inside, the RZ continues Lexus’ tradition of exquisite craftsmanship and remains one of the best in the industry. The materials, sound insulation, and general fit and finishes just come together beautifully while the creative use of lights to create interesting designs on the door panel is a particular highlight.
In keeping with the green credentials, the seats are upholstered in expensive-looking Ultrasuede. They are electrically adjustable and are comfortable and supportive.
The RZ is also the first Lexus model to introduce a dial shifter that is both tactile and intuitive to use. Drivers push the dial down and twist right to put the car into drive and left for reverse.
Like other recent Lexus models, the electromagnetic door levers (called e-latch) take no time to get used to and prevents the doors from opening if there are vehicles, cyclists or pedestrian approaching from behind.
There are room for five with plenty of knee room and a flat floor at the back, while the driver faces a lovely multi-function three-spoke steering wheel (the steer-by-wire steering yoke is expected to be offered in late 2024).
Oddly, while the instrument binnacle could easily house a large 10- or 12-inch display, Lexus has instead chosen to install a tiny 4.2-inch screen in the RZ Luxury (7.0-inch in the Sports Luxury). What you are left with is substantial blank spaces on either side of the screen which looks average at best and a let down at the RZ’s price point and positioning.
Thankfully, the cinematic 14-inch infotainment touchscreen is more in keeping with the RZ’s competitors. It also runs Toyota’s/Lexus’ latest OS that offers crisp graphics and a mostly easy to use interface.
You can easily call up the most frequently used apps such as drive modes by touching the dots at the bottom of the screen.
It will connect to your smartphone wirelessly, while a wireless charging pad backed up by a fast-charging USB-C is no doubt handy to top up your phone on the go.
We also like the way the climate control function stays on at the bottom of the touchscreen for easy access. You also get a dial to quickly change the temperature without having to fumble through endless menus.
The only annoying bit of tech we found was the driver monitoring system that constantly nags and beeps at you to look at the road like an annoying warden.
Lexus RZ 450e Luxury features:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights with high-beam assist
- Rear spoiler
- Rear privacy glass
- Auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, auto power-folding
- 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system with “Hey Lexus” natural voice recognition
- Lexus Connected Services with inbuilt Data Control Module (DCM)
- 10-speaker Panasonic sound system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- DAB+ digital radio
- Wireless smartphone charging
- 5x USB-C ports
- 8-way power front seats with 2-way driver lumbar support
- NuLuxe leather upholstery
- Front seat heating
Lexus RZ 450e Sports Luxury adds:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Acoustic windows
- Adaptive headlights with cornering function
- Dimming panoramic sunroof
- 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system
- Head-up display
- Smart key card
- Heated steering wheel
- Touch-sensitive steering wheel controls
- Radiant heating for front seat passengers
- Ultrasuede upholstery
- Ventilated front seats
- Heated outboard rear seats
- Intelligent park assist
- Two-tone exterior paint
In terms of storage, besides a sizeable two-way opening central storage bin, there is no glovebox in the RZ due to the lap warming radiant heating elements (offered in the Sports Luxury model) residing where the glovebox normally is.
There is 522L of boot space with all seats up or 1,451L with the rear seats folded which is on the generous side for its size.
Each RZ variant shares the same dual-motor, all-wheel drive set-up fed by a 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The front motor produces 150kW and 266Nm, while the rear motor makes just 80kW and 169Nm for a combined output of 230kW/435Nm.
There’s decent shove off the mark and excellent traction from the all-wheel drive system. Lexus claims the RZ is capable of 0-100km/h in a respectable 5.3 seconds.
It doesn’t feel overly sporty but is composed and confident when pushed around the bends. Ride quality is comfortable and the cabin is approvingly hush in most situation.
With more power going to the front wheels, you would expect the RZ to drive like a front-wheel drive but that’s not the case, as it has a surprisingly neutral character.
The Drive4 system, which has no mechanical connection between the front and rear axle, can send up to 100 per cent of torque to either axle depending on the situation.
There are four drive modes that tweak the steering and throttle but there is very little discernible difference between them.
Interestingly, the RZ doesn’t come with a single-pedal drive mode like most of its EV rivals.
Lexus claims the RZ has a combined cycle range of 470km based on NEDC protocols. However, our real-world test average is closer to 380km which is nothing special considering most rivals are capable of at least 400km on full charge.
It will charge from 0 to 80 per cent in a claimed 30 minutes using a DC fast-charger and can be fully charged in 6.5 hours with a three-phase AC power supply.
Each RZ comes with two charging cables – one for slow charging from a regular household power point and another for public Type 2 chargers. It also comes with a complimentary 7kW AC wallbox supplied and installed by Jet Charge.
However, for those who prefer to charge on the go, Lexus will include a three-year complimentary Chargefox subscription which provides access to its network of rapid DC public chargers.
Additionally, RZ owners also enjoy Lexus’ Encore Electrified Platinum benefits for three years which includes Lexus On Demand and complimentary valet parking.
On the safety front, the Lexus RZ is currently unrated as it has not been crashed tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
However, the Toyota bZ4X on which the RZ is based, is a five-star crasher under the Europe NCAP rating. So we can only assume the more premium Lexus model will match that score.
The Lexus RZ comes with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five years of capped-price servicing, with each service costing just $395 at either 12 months or 15,000km.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Excellent built-quality
- Practical and exquisite interior
- Excellent ride and handling
- No head-up display in RZ 450e Luxury
- Below average driving range
- Lacks single-pedal driving mode
Those looking for traditional Lexus qualities will find the RZ 450e Luxury ticking all the right boxes, including exquisite craftsmanship and excellent ownership experience.
It also drives like most other EVs; it’s quiet, responsive and offers strong acceleration.
However, where it falls short is its below average driving range, low rent digital instrument and lack of single-pedal driving mode. And for a late comer, that’s a missed opportunity.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury pricing and specifications
|Price (excluding on-road costs):||From: $121,675|
As tested: $123,425
Sonic Chrome Metallic Paint – $1,750
|Warranty:||5 years/unlimited kilometre|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||5 year roadside|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/15,000km|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Electric Motor:||Permanent magnet synchronous motor|
Front: 150kW, 266Nm
Rear: 80kW, 169Nm
71.4kWh lithium-ion battery
Combined Power: 230kW, 435Nm
|Transmission:||Single-speed direct drive|
|Power-to-Weight Ratio (kW/t):||109.3|
|Electric Driving Range (NEDC) (km):||Claimed: 470/Tested: 380|
|Energy Consumption (Wh/km)||Claimed: 152|
|Battery Charger:||Connector type: Type 2 (AC), CCS2 (DC)|
Charger output: 11kWh
Max. charging power: 150kWh
Charging times (230V): Approx. 6.5 hours (16A)
Charging times (quick charge): Approx. 50min (400A)
|Battery Capacity (Ah):||201|
|Body:||5-door SUV, 5 seats|
|Boot Space (min/max) (L):||522/1,451|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||2,095|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 750/Unbraked: 750|
|Entertainment:||14-inch colour touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB+, Bluetooth, Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, USB-C, AUX, 10-speaker Panasonic Sound System|