Lexus RZ 450e – grounded luxury.

The Lexus RZ is the marque’s first shot at a luxury EV competitor, bringing about its famed Japanese refinement and sensibleness.

With SUVs being produced by the dozen these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new Lexus RZ is just another run-of-the-mill electric SUV. But, it’s actually Lexus’ first ever purpose-built EV, and it’s making a statement for itself. Yes, there was the UX300e, but it was originally conceived as a petrol car and only had its innards replaced with batteries down the line.

Built on the same eTNGA platform as the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra, how does this luxury cruiser fare on our roads?

Zen style

It sure is tardy to the EV party, but at least the Lexus RZ rocks up fashionably late.

While it does have the ‘spindle grille’ look carried by Lexus models, it is smoothed off for better aerodynamics. The car’s facade is dominated by sharp creases all-round, and you get dinky roof spoilers at the back that add some sportiness to the otherwise sterile masquerade. 

A tapered roofline rakes down sharply at the rear, giving it sportback-esque qualities. This cumulates nicely with the rear lightbar and taillight array.

Styled to closely resemble its RX sibling, it’s a great-looking car from most angles.

A cabin befitting of luxury

The first thing that dominates your immediate peripheral vision in the cabin is that massive 14-inch centre touchscreen. The screen reacts well to your prods and inputs, and HVAC controls are mercifully separated with permanent dials for ease of use, but finding things like the drive mode selector can be a pain at times.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, as well as a wireless charging pad, USB-C ports, heated seats and an electrochromic panoramic roof. Audio quality is also top-notch thanks to a 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system. 

As with all Lexus models, the interior is of high quality, with Ultrasuede and black plastics dominating your touchpoints. Silver trim pieces help outline the dashboard and centre console.

Storage-wise, the RZ is rather good. You get two well-sized cupholders, a dual-opening cubby and decently-sized door cards. 

There isn’t a yoke, but the steering wheel is nicely proportioned. Physical buttons lined on both sides enable access to various driving functions, but these have haptic touch as well, and it did get a little annoying whenever I accidentally toggled something as I brushed by hands past.

The instrument cluster isn’t that great either. There’s quite a bit of real estate, but the screen itself is really small in the instrument binnacle, with the remaining space given to warning light panels. Not giving it a bigger screen feels like a missed opportunity, but at least Lexus does give you a very clear head-up display.

Step up in practicality

Space-wise, front occupants are nestled into thick comfortable seats and are sectioned off by the thick centre console, evoking a pod-like sensation. You get decent headroom all round and plenty of adjustment on the steering column and seat.

While the rear passengers get quite a bit of legroom to spare, what isn’t so good though is the fact that the floor and seat base are quite close together, due to the batteries being mounted in the floor.

Cargo space stands at a decent 522 litres, and that’s enough for the weekly shop, a stroller and even a set of golf clubs.

Charging is thankfully a breeze too in the Lexus RZ. The Lexus UX300e arrived in Singapore with a CHAdeMO charging port instead of the usual Type 2 CCS socket that we’ve grown accustomed to, making it a challenge for anyone wanting to juice up quickly. This is addressed in the RZ, now coming with proper CCS DC support. 

A large 71.4kWh battery pack lies underneath, and depending on the wheel size you choose, you can get up to 440km on a single charge, with Lexus quoting efficiency figures of 5.3km/kWh. In my testing, I managed to average 4.6km/kWh, giving me about 330km of real-world range.

Rides like a cloud

Where the Lexus RZ shines is its ride comfort. In town, the RZ mitigates undulations in the road with ease, while the light steering makes manoeuvring and parking easy affairs. 

At speed, the RZ settles down wonderfully on the highways, with Lexus’ famed sound deadening helping to reduce road and tyre noise massively. Crucially, the quiet ambience doesn’t desensitise you from the overall driving experience. Plus, with 230kW (308bhp) and 435Nm of torque on tap mated to a dual-motor setup, the car has more than enough kick to qualm any would-be competitors that block off your overtake advances.

Obviously, with a car predominantly set up for comfort, twisty roads aren’t where the RZ is most settled at. Switching it into Sport mode, you do get weightier steering and more response from the motors, but the influx of body roll and waftiness doesn’t present much confidence for you to push further. The view out of the back is pretty poor too, as the sloping rear window is tiny alongside the massive pillars on either side.

Overall, the RZ is still a quality product that’s comfortable and practical, and it shows that Lexus is finally in the running with EVs. 

Matured refinement

For a first attempt, the Lexus RZ is a great proposition for prospective owners looking for a quiet, comfortable EV experience that doesn’t break your neck each time you floor the accelerator. 

Yes, it does cost quite a bit of change to afford, costing S$406,800 at the time of writing, but its refined nature and ease of use translate to seamless daily commuting. 

For those expecting the yoke, clearly a huge amount of effort has gone into Lexus’ new steer-by-wire system, and although it won’t be hitting our streets until at least 2024, at least it provides the RZ with an interesting differentiator. 

If you can afford to wait, the yoke variant might be an interesting option. But, for those who still prefer the ol’ faithful steering wheel, the RZ is worthwhile to keep on your radar.

Technical Specifications

Lexus RZ 450e Luxury

Engine: Permanent Magnet Motor

Power: 230kw (308bhp)

Torque: 435Nm

Gearbox: Single-Speed (A)

0-100km/h: 5.3 seconds (claimed)

Top Speed: 160km/h

Battery Capacity: 71.4 kWh

Drive Range: 440 km (claimed)

Energy Consumption: 5.3 km/kWh (claimed)

Price: S$406,800 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)

Contact: Lexus Singapore

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

Sean Loo

Ignition Labs' resident editor loves all things retro, even though he was born in the late 90s. His main job encompasses tons of driving (and a massive carbon footprint), but he swears he turns off the lights each time he leaves his room.

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