Lexus has today announced the RZ, the luxury marque’s second entry into the EV market, and the first designed from the ground-up as an electric vehicle. With a 71.4kWh battery and a claimed range of around 280 miles, the RZ will also show off a new active four-wheel drive system dubbed DIRECT4. That will, so the company says, enable the car to automatically distribute force to each wheel according to its need. And Lexus says that DIRECT4 will offer “excellent driving performance” with a “stronger human-machine connection.”
Given this is Toyota’s luxury brand, there’s plenty of mention of omotenashi, the Japanese concept of overwhelming your guests with hospitality. Here, Lexus says that owners can expect lots of interior space and plenty of comfort, both for the driver and their passengers. Rear passengers look like they’ll get decent legroom, and a dimming panoramic roof will help make those seats feel a little more spacious, especially compared to most Lexus crossover SUVs.
Of course, the only thing anyone will likely want to focus on is the steering yoke, because you can’t drive a futuristic EV with something as old-fashioned as a wheel, come on. (Don't worry, it's an option, the default version comes with a wheel).
The RZ isn’t Lexus first foray into making a battery electric vehicle, and offered a EV version of its UX series (the 300e), which garnered lukewarm praise from critics. The Lexus build quality and luxury on offer might have been appreciated, but with a range under 200 miles, cramped rear space and poor charging dimmed its shine. Thankfully, the RZ is based on the same e-TNGA EV platform you’ll find underpinning both Toyota’s new bZ4X and Subaru’s Solterra. And we’d expect the RZ to sit as a fancier-pantsier version of the bZ4X, with better interior options and the already-mentioned longer range.