New Lexus RZ 450e electric SUV teased ahead of 2022 launch

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Following the surprise unveiling of its entire range of next-generation electric vehicles, Lexus has released a handful of teaser images for its first ground-up electric vehicle – the RZ. The electric SUV will make its debut in 2022, using the same e-TNGA platform found in the new Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X.

The Lexus RZ looks similar in size to its Toyota and Subaru siblings, but there are plenty of exterior design tweaks. The front is much smoother than the bZ4X’s, while the rear gains a slightly more aggressive diffuser and a pair of winglets atop the tailgate.

There’s also an extra ducktail spoiler mounted on the trailing edge of the tailgate, while the plastic cladding around the bZ4X’s wheel arches and bumpers has been toned down to give the car a smoother and classier appearance.

We haven’t seen inside the Lexus RZ’s cabin, but we expect it’ll have the same layout as the bZ4X, sharing the same high centre console and enormous touchscreen infotainment system in the centre of the dashboard. The Subaru Solterra doesn’t have many changes over the bZ4X, and we expect Lexus will adopt the same strategy.

As it shares the same e-TNGA underpinnings, the Lexus RZ will be available with the same 71.4kWh battery pack and dual-motor powertrain as its range-topping bZ4X sibling. In the Toyota, the system produces 215bhp and 336Nm of torque, which is enough for a 0–62mph time of 7.7 seconds and a maximum range of 280 miles.

It’ll also come with DIRECT4, a four-wheel-drive system that constantly monitors the drive force to the wheels and adjusts it based on throttle and steering inputs, as well as road conditions. Lexus says the technology can allow the RZ to shift “from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive and everything in between, in the blink of an eye.”

Other technical innovations will include steer-by-wire technology, which removes the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels. Lexus claims that this set-up improves steering response to help maximise the benefits of DIRECT4, and allows the driver to perform U-turns with inputs of just 150 degrees.

In theory, this also means that the car won’t have to be offered with a conventional round wheel – and Lexus is already referencing a yoke mechanism that allows the instruments to be seen without peering through a wheel. However, the firm’s European boss told Auto Express that a more traditional wheel design is likely to be offered as an alternative.

Lexus hasn’t yet confirmed pricing information for the pure-electric RZ but, since it is roughly the same length as the hybrid RX, expect the new arrival to be pitched at the top end of the firm’s SUV structure, with a starting figure of at least £50,000.

Now read about Lexus’s new range of electric concepts – which includes an LFA-inspired sports car…

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