TOKYO — The new RZ crossover propels Lexus into the all-electric age with a sporty family-friendly rocket that combines acceleration and responsive driving dynamics with everyday utility.
The dynamically styled midsize offering, unveiled online Wednesday, debuts a new design look for Toyota Motor Corp.'s premium brand and foreshadows a wave of Lexus electric vehicles that are on the way.
Among the glimpses of tomorrow is a new yoke-style steering wheel that connects to Lexus' first steer-by-wire system — although the system's introduction to North America is still under consideration.
"RZ is immediate proof of the transformation that is happening at Lexus," Lexus President Koji Sato said. "Electrification means maximizing vehicle potential through electrified technology.
"Quick acceleration, precise brake feel and confident handling will all be Lexus hallmarks."
The 2023 RZ 450e goes on sale in October, starting in China and Europe, and then rolls into North America and Japan.
The futuristic counterpart to the venerable Lexus RX crossover rides on the same e-TNGA dedicated EV platform as the Toyota brand's upcoming bZ4X utility vehicle.
But the RZ stokes more emotion compared with both the RX and the mass-market bZ4X.
For starters, the Lexus EV targets a 0-to-100-km/h (0-to-62-mph) time of 5.4 seconds, while 0-to-60-mph is expected to clock in at 5.2 seconds. That's more than a second faster than the all-wheel-drive version of the bZ4X and not too far off the 3.7 seconds clocked by the Lexus LFA sports car.
The RZ handily beats the gasoline and hybrid versions of the RX.
The RZ's extra oomph comes courtesy of a dual-motor setup that pairs two new e-axles developed by Toyota Group supplier Aisin Corp. — a 150-kilowatt motor in the front and an 80-kilowatt counterpart in the back. The resulting output of 230 kilowatts, or 308 hp, far outstrips the maximum power configuration of 214 hp in the two-motor awd bZ4X.
By contrast, the Lexus UX 300e, an electric variant of the standard gasoline or hybrid version of the compact crossover, gets only a single 150-kilowatt motor.