Lexus RZ: Brand's first dedicated electric model teased

Due to be unveiled in full in 2022, the Lexus RZ will be the brand's first model to utilise a dedicated EV architecture.

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Lexus has teased its imminent, new ground-up electric SUV model: the RZ.

Unlike the recently launched UX300e, which takes an existing model and inserts an electric drivetrain into it, the RZ will be electric only and use a dedicated EV platform.

The RZ will ride on Toyota’s e-TNGA architecture, which means it will share a lot in common with the Toyota bZ4X due to arrive in Australia from late 2022.

While the Subaru Solterra is an almost straight facsimile of the bZ4X, the Lexus RZ promises to be a different beast.

The exterior is unique, and has styling inspired by (but significantly toned down from) the LF-Z Electrified concept. The shark fin bisecting the LF-Z’s rear windscreen, for example, is a no show.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Spiros Fotinos, head of Lexus Europe, said the RZ has the packaging and body of a crossover, but will sit closer to ground.

The RZ’s sleek shape and lower ride height are because “the aerodynamics’ requirements are more important [in an EV] than for a more conventional product”.

Pascal Ruch, vice president of Lexus Europe, told Autocar the RZ will also have many under-the-skin changes so the Lexus will have “incredible cornering and roadholding”.

These include “lighter and more compact motors”, and a Direct4-branded variable four-wheel drive system that can instantly shift between front-, rear- and all-wheel drive as circumstances dictate.

For reference, the bZ4X and Solterra are available with two drivetrain options, both featuring a 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The single-motor front-wheel drive variant has 150kW, a 0-100km/h time of 8.4 seconds, and a 530km range according to the WLTP cycle. The dual-motor setup boasts 160kW, a quicker 7.7s 0-100km/h time, but a reduced range of 460km.

The Solterra and bZ4X support AC charging up to 6.6kW, and DC charging at up to 150kW.

Like the bZ4X and Solterra, the RZ is fitted with an electronic steer-by-system, meaning there is no direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels.

In fact, the RZ may be offered with yoke-style setup instead of a traditional round steering wheel.

We’ll know more about the RZ, and hopefully see its interior, when it’s unveiled some time in 2022. The Lexus RZ and related bZ4X will be part of the first wave of EV models to be released by the Toyota group in the coming years.

Toyota expects 50 per cent of its European sales to be pure EVs by 2030, and with European regulators looking to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid passenger cars by 2035, the company says it is ready to be fully electric on Continent by that date.

The RZ wasn’t the only vehicle unveiled by Lexus overnight, as it also took the wraps off a hydrogen-powered off-road buggy concept.

MORE: Lexus ROV — Hydrogen buggy concept unveiled

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Derek Fung

Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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