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Thursday, April 21, 2022

From Spindle Grille To Spindle Body: Lexus Unveils Its First Global EV: The 2023 RZ

Lexus has unveiled its first global electric vehicle model, the first-ever RZ crossover. Set to be made available at all of the premium Japanese brand’s markets, the RZ marks their transition into an all-electric brand all the while keeping their “Lexus Driving Signature.”

The third vehicle after the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra to be underpinned by the e-TNGA platform, the Lexus RZ features a dual-motor setup with a 150-kW (204 horsepower) front motor with an 80-kW (109 horsepower) rear motor for a combined output of 308 horsepower. More powerful than the Lexus UX300e and even its two aforementioned platform-mates, the Lexus RZ does the 0 to 100 km/h benchmark in 5.4 seconds—more than a second faster than the bZ4X.

However, the additional power has a trade-off and that’s the maximum cruising range. Compared to the bZ4X and the Solterra, it travels less on a full charge, but still manages to do 450 kilometers thanks to a 71.4 kWh battery.

Further differentiating itself from its Toyota and Subaru counterpart is its all-wheel drive system. The standard Direct4 uses a Lexus-specific programming to control torque distribution. By balancing the torque split, it delivers not just more direct and confident handling, but damps vehicle pitch for a flatter, more linear acceleration and braking.

Lexus also fine-tuned the RZ’s driving dynamics at its “mini-Nürburgring” proving ground in the mountains outside Toyota City, Japan. Lexus is moving its global brand headquarters to the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama in 2024.

With its filled-in grille, designers have dropped the term, Spindle Grille in favor of Spindle Body which Lexus says conveys its trademark element into a 3D form. It also enhances its aerodynamic properties. For example, the horn-like rooftop spoilers are meant to suppress crosswind force and improve stability.

Inside, the RZ foregoes a minimalist dashboard filled with touchscreens and displays with one that’s driver-focused with plenty of tactile buttons and controls. Like the Lexus NX, the RZ replaces the mechanical door latch system with an electronic “e-latch” for easier and quieter entry. It also comes with a panoramic sunroof and can be optioned with Lexus’s first drive-by-wire system which introduces a yoke-shaped steering wheel.

The Lexus RZ will be produced at the company's Motomachi assembly plant in Toyota City, on the same line as the bZ4X and a sibling EV from the same platform, the Subaru Solterra. Whereas the bZ4X gets its batteries from both Chinese battery giant CATL and Japanese company Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic, the RZ will use only the Prime Planet packs.

The Lexus RZ goes on sale in October starting in Europe and China. The U.S., Japan, and the rest of the world then follows.

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