What’s this interesting-looking thing, you ask? It’s the all-new Lexus RZ. This is the first dedicated (not based on an existing model) electric vehicle from Lexus, as the company, like most carmakers, moves towards electrification. It follows in the footsteps of its first fully electric model, the UX 300e.
Unlike the UX, the RZ rides on the electric version of the TNGA platform, called the e-TNGA. Other vehicles will soon share this layout, including the incoming Toyota bZ4X and twinned Subaru Solterra fully electric models.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: Specifications
Battery: 71.4kWh lithium-ion, 355.2V
Output: 230kW / 435Nm
Gearbox: Single-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 18×7.0, 235/60 R: 18×8.0, 255/55
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2105kg
Power-to-weight: 9.15:1 (kg:kW)
Official range (NEDC): 470km
Max charging: 11kW AC, 150kW DC0-60km/h: 2.62 seconds*
0-100km/h: 5.16 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.49 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.66 seconds at 164.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.922g*
100-0km/h braking: 40.14m in 3.10 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.203g*
Decibel at idle (standby): 21*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 61*
Starting price: $121,675
*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: How much does it cost?
Just one main variant is on sale in Australia, called the RZ 450e. Although, you can get it in Luxury and Sports Luxury trim level. The Luxury, as we have here, features aero-style 18-inch wheels while the flagship comes with 20s. Other than that, the two trims look pretty much the same on the outside.
Prices start from $121,675 for the Luxury and from $133,675 for the Sports Luxury (excluding on-roads). According to VFACTS new vehicle registration figures for Australia, the RZ sits in the same premium mid-size SUV class as the Lexus NX, as well as the RZ’s main rival, the Tesla Model Y. The RZ prices are about $20,000-30,000 higher than the NX and Model Y, but you do get a more luxurious experience in the RZ compared with those rivals.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: Interior & packaging
It’s quite a nice design in our opinion, especially from the back. The full-width taillight makes it look fat and low, and the coupe-like profile and roofline provides a sporty edge. It takes a different path to most of its rivals, which adopt a more conventional SUV shape.
As mentioned, the 18-inch alloy wheels are the main visual difference over the top-spec Sports Luxury. And in our opinion, these wheels look too small, especially for such a modern and futuristic exterior design. With taller profile tyres, however, the base Luxury is likely to ride slightly better than the top model; 235/60 R18 front vs 235/50 R20 front.
A lot of that price difference over the NX is immediately justified when you check out the interior. It is spectacular in here. And this is the base model. You get really soft and luxurious leather (like, proper soft) with thick carpets and lots of quality touches. In some ways, it feels more luxurious than some of the higher-end models in the showroom, including the Lexus RX.
Most of the switchgear will be familiar to any modern Lexus owner or fan, aside from the unique gear selector dial. This is probably the only element in here that suggests it is an electric vehicle. Every other area looks and feels like a luxury SUV and not a space ship, like some EVs.
Passenger space is good, although the low-profile roofline means its sportier than a typical upright-style SUV. The driving position feels natural and ergonomic, with heaps of adjustment range from the seat and steering column. And the steering wheel feels good in your hands, coaxing you to go for a drive just for leisure.
In the back, legroom is very impressive. And the floor is almost completely flat to boost the perception of space. Super-soft trim continues back here, and you have multiple charging options for devices. But, there is no climate control in the back.
Despite that coupe roofline, the roof does extend rearward enough to provide good head clearance. However, you do need to bend down just slightly to get in, compared with a more upright SUV. That’s just a sacrifice in having those sporty looks.
Boot space is respectable, but again, compared with a typical SUV the height is limited due to the swooping profile. It does run quite deep and you can fold down the rear seats, nice and flat. Some extra storage can be found under the floor, too. Volume is rated at 522L, or 1451L with the rear seats folded.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: Powertrain & handling
Up front, the bonnet conceals plenty of electrical gear including a 150kW motor for the front axle. An 80kW motor is mounted at the rear axle, creating all-wheel drive. Power is then received from a 71.4kWh battery that provides an official range of 470km.
Out on the road the RZ feels solid and planted. Comfort is definitely a high priority here, because this is so relaxing and smooth. Even over speed bumps. The handling is like other modern Lexus vehicles, in that, it glides around corners rather than pounces.
That’s not to say it isn’t sporty, because it is very enjoyable on a nice road. You’ll simply appreciate the utter relaxation and smoothness even more. Performance is excellent, like pretty any electric vehicle. We experienced quicker 0-100 times than the official claim, too. Which is always great.
Using a private road and a Racelogic Vbox we clocked a best 0-100km/h time of 5.16 seconds, down from Lexus’s time of 5.3 seconds. We also saw the quarter mile crossed in 13.66 seconds at 164km/h. To give that some perspective, in the past we’ve time the RC F performance V8 coupe in 5.17 seconds, and 13.44 seconds at 177km/h – you can browse our full performance data page here for more results.
It’s a very quick machine, and in fact it is the second-quickest Lexus currently on sale, behind the LC 500 V8 (claimed 0-100 in 4.7 seconds). That’s a pretty extraordinary boast, to be quicker than a 351kW V8 sports car. Although, it isn’t the quickest EV in this class.
Being electric though, the power delivery is so smooth and refined. It shifts off the mark without any effort, lurching forward and upward as the 235 front and 255 rear tyres claw for traction. There is no slip, though, whatsoever.
With an official driving range of 470km, the RZ 450e can accommodate nice weekends away up or down the coast, without range anxiety ruining the journey. However, the Australian charging infrastructure is still lacking. We encountered two separate occasions where a public charger was either broken or out of order. This kind of thing can ruin such a trip or at least cause some disruption to your plans.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: Key attractions/reasons to buy
It’s got to be the luxurious demeanour. This is so smooth and comfortable to drive, you’ll forget your destination. With electric power it means it is peaceful, too. I’d even go as far as saying this is one of the most relaxing Lexus vehicles in the showroom.
The official classification places it in the SUV market, but in reality it is more of a soft-roader. In that sense, think of it as like a fast and elegant four-door coupe, but with enough ground clearance to get you to that quint cabin in the mountains.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: Key considerations before you buy
Range anxiety isn’t really an issue in terms of the 470km rating, but we experienced some significant range losses after switching on some of the on-board amenities. For example, having the air-con on slashed the range by around 20-25 per cent, which seems excessive.
The other considerations are the lacking charging infrastructure, like with any EV in Australia, and the fact the price is about $20-30k more than an equivalent petrol or hybrid Lexus. In saying that, the RZ does feel more luxurious inside than many of its showroom siblings.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury: Video
How does it rate against its rival?
The electric powertrain provides comfort and relaxation, which pairs seamlessly with Lexus’s supple ride and quality driving character. Our tip is forget about absolute speed and sportiness with this one and just enjoy its tranquil serenity.