Lexus has begun its journey into electric vehicles with the launch of the RZ 450e, the first battery-electric vehicle (BEV) in the range and kitted with a futuristic Formula 1 style steering wheel and steer-by-wire technology.
The elimination of the internal combustion engine allows for a new visual identity, with the signature spindle grille replaced by a BEV spindle body.
The distinct BEV silhouette starts with a low nose and moves smoothly towards the cabin, featuring a rearward peak that contributes to ample rear-seat headroom.
Aerodynamics and driving stability benefit from a distinctive roof spoiler. The ducktail shape on the end of the boot reduces drag and generates downforce for a stable driving feel. The rear features the spelled-out LEXUS logo as part of a clean and simple horizontal design that highlights the wider rear track, accentuating the RZ’s performance identity.
The RZ’s long wheelbase provides spacious rear-seat accommodation with a couple distance of 1 000 mm.
Three types of seat materials are used, including Ultrasuede, a refined material that uses 30% bio-based sustainable materials. An electronic ‘e-latch’ system is used to operate the doors while electric radiant heaters, combined with a heat-pump system, ensure passenger ambient comfort.
An available panoramic roof provides heat shielding, thermal insulation and 99% UV protection and includes a Lexus-first dimming function, which instantly blocks light according to the needs of the occupants.
Under the Lexus Electrified vision, engineers have tuned sound frequencies to the vehicle’s speed and sound levels during dynamic actions such as acceleration.
The new DIRECT4 system takes the Lexus Driving Signature to a higher level. It uses acceleration, cornering-speed and steering-angle information to automatically adjust front-rear torque delivery and braking force to all four wheels.
The system uses a front and rear e-axle, each equipped with a high-torque electric motor, transaxle and inverter in a compact unit. As each motor is directly connected to the wheels by a single driveshaft, it operates without delay.
The front e-axle is packaged with a short front-rear layout, while the rear e-axle features a low-profile layout for maximum interior and cargo space.
From standstill and during straight-line acceleration, the system uses a front-to-rear drive-force ratio between 60:40 and 40:60 for minimum vehicle pitch. When the steering wheel is turned, drive force is biased to the front wheels between 50% and 75%..
When exiting a corner, torque distribution to the rear wheels is increased to between 50% and 80%, providing e traction while controlling vehicle pitch.
The compact yoke-like steering wheel reduces the driver’s workload, eliminating the need for hand-over-hand operation, such as for intersections, U-turns, parking and winding roads. It also enabled designers to lower placement of the instrument gauges.
RZ rides on a front MacPherson strut suspension, while its rear uses a trailing arm double-wishbone configuration.
For the first time, Lexus uses frequency-reactive dampers that alter the damping force on the extension stroke in response to road surface frequency input, providing a high level of handling stability without compromising ride comfort.
The RZ is equipped with the latest Lexus Safety System +, including Proactive Driving Assist (PDA) designed to contribute to safe and secure driving by providing support for a wider range of driving situations.
In addition to the Pre-Collision Safety (PCS), all-speed radar cruise control and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) systems, an optional driver monitor provides a warning when it detects the driver is drowsy or looking sideways.
If the system determines that the driver’s posture is severely compromised and it is difficult for the driver to continue driving, it warns other drivers by flashing the hazard lamps while gently decelerating the vehicle. The system then stops the vehicle in its lane, unlocks the doors and automatically notifies emergency services through the vehicle’s connected technology.
The RZ also features Advanced Drive (traffic-jam support) and Advanced Park (with remote function), based on the Lexus Teammate1 concept.
Advanced Drive2 can support a driver’s perception, judgement, and vehicle operation, thereby reducing fatigue, under certain conditions – such as when the driver is looking ahead and operating radar cruise control and Lane Trace Assist (LTA) during traffic jams (0-40 km/h approx.)
Advanced Park2 offers expanded support, allowing a driver to use a smartphone to manoeuvre their car while standing outside the vehicle.
The Lexus RZ for South African introduction is currently under study.
Main specifications of the new RZ (prototype):
|Overall length||4,805 mm|
|Overall width||1,895 mm|
|Overall height||1,635 mm|
|Tyre size||18/20 inches|
|Cruise range||Approx. 450km|
|Output||Front：150 kW Rear：80 kW|