19 June 2023

WATCH: It's lovely in winter and 5 other things you need to know about the new Lexus RZ

| James Coleman
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Lexus RZ

2023 Lexus RZ 450e – complete with devil horns. Photo: James Coleman.

I know what you’re thinking: “Yet another expensive EV for the ultra-elite.” But let’s head that off.

First of all, it’s a Lexus – you knew it wouldn’t be cheap.

The world of upper-class carmakers is also not where the electric vehicle has to fight the affordability battle. So Lexus can sell an EV just as easily as the turbocharged V8 next to it. It all comes down to a quibble over features and the new RZ has quite a few in its favour. Particularly on a cold Canberra morning, as it turns out.

The RZ is basically the posh cousin to Toyota’s upcoming electric car, the BZ4X which, in turn, is related to Subaru’s upcoming electric car, the Solterra.

It’s a rather curious coupe-shaped SUV to behold – with what appears to be little devil horns poking out from above the rear window – but very handsome on the whole. It looks particularly sharp from the side and rear.

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Prices start at $123,000 plus on-road costs for the base Luxury version, or in the case of the Sports Luxury flagship I’ve borrowed from the Lexus of Canberra dealership in Phillip, $135,000 plus on-road costs.

Before your eyes start watering too much, to put this into perspective, this is on par with Mercedes, BMW, Polestar and Genesis. And between the Lexus NX and RX SUV models.

That brings us to the features.

Not only does the RZ come with a heated steering wheel – which is hands down (!) the single best invention since a baker woke up one morning with the epiphany to slice bread – but there are also radiant heat pads underneath the passenger and driver sides of the dash.

The reason for this, I’m told, is they’re more efficient to run than a conventional blower heater. Remembering, of course, the RZ can’t just pilfer heat from the engine. Does this make it a solution to a problem of its own making? Probably, but you don’t care when warmth is beamed onto your icicle-like legs.

Everything inside, the acres of suede and soft-touch leathers and plastics, are also vegan, so you can feel warm on the inside too. The rest is Lexus luxury. The carpets, for instance, are so deep and plush, I wonder what a second-hand buyer will find in them years from now. Mary Poppins’ handbag, probably.

Range might be another point of contention for buyers, and to be honest, it isn’t outstanding. Lexus says the dual electric motors, mated to a 71.4 kWh battery pack, deliver an estimated 470 kilometres of lenient driving. A Tesla Model Y can do 514.

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As for performance, I wasn’t sure what to make of it when bridled by slow-moving peak-hour traffic, but out on the open road, the RZ can sure get up to speed very quickly. Lexus claims a 0-100 km/h time of 5.3 seconds, or about the same as that pulsing HSV next to you at the lights.

Because the battery is mounted low, it handles very capably too. Around corners, over bumps – it’s all done with quiet aplomb.

In the end, the RZ feels special. In recent years, Lexus has been churning out so many models essentially to satisfy SUV cravings it may not have spent as much time on each as it ought. They can come across a bit same ol’. Not this one and I’m not just saying that because it’s the first EV.

Although, yes, the heat pads have a bit to do with it.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e Sports Luxury

  • $135,000 (plus on-road costs)
  • Two electric motors and a 71.4kWh battery, 230 kW
  • All-wheel drive (AWD)
  • 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds
  • 470 km estimated driving range
  • Not yet tested for safety.

Visit Lexus of Canberra for more information.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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