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Lexus RZ electric car 2023 review: 450e EV SUV test – A luxury alternative to Tesla Model Y?

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Confession time.

The ‘driving’ program involved a one-way blast around Toyota Australia’s test track facility at Altona, in Melbourne’s western CBD, with tight speed restrictions, super slick roads and way too much traffic. nervous eyes gazing at a multimillion-dollar hand-built. prototype at any time.

So it’s not your usual first exam.

Still, there is much to report. For starters, the driving position is extremely familiar to Lexus, which means whether you’re familiar with the latest NX or the new RX, much of the dashboard look and architecture is surprisingly similar.

Extremely fluid at the start, the RZ wastes no time in reaching 60 km/h in an instant. Extremely fluid at the start, the RZ wastes no time in reaching 60 km/h in an instant.

Familiarity is one of the key pillars of this car – with one major exception… the yoke-style steering wheel, which, as mentioned, isn’t as strange or bizarre as the look and shape would suggest. In fact, it melts quickly.

Either way, press a button, turn a dial to D to drive, and away you go. Extremely smooth off the line, the RZ wastes no time reaching 60 km/h in an instant, before the first corner is rapidly approaching and the ‘wheel’ is pushed almost unconsciously to the left; the transition is natural as the Lexus weaves its way around the bend without fuss or fight. This yoke thing works!

Now Lexus says there’s minimal pitching and body movement because this car — which is on 20-inch wheels and features adaptive dampers all around — is designed to keep things smooth, so let’s see how does it happen.

The RZ zips around corners with no hassle or struggle. The RZ zips around corners with no hassle or struggle.

Yes, we hit the top speed limit of 100 km/h, it’s super relaxed and refined, and all the while the yoke feels rock solid. As turns are taken, the absence of arm twirling is a new and appreciated feeling.

On the other hand, while the response and weighting are spot on, there isn’t much feel through the ‘butterfly’ shaped bar. Everything is so coldly competent.

At some point, a corner is taken too enthusiastically, and the rear end wants to start in unison with the tires squealing, which undoubtedly means a big black mark against your author’s name in Japan, but the electronic safety controls gently bring it all back. without affecting speed or progress. Pleasant.

The 450e is super relaxed and refined as it hits the top speed limit of 100 km/h. The 450e is super relaxed and refined as it hits the top speed limit of 100 km/h.

Speaking of control, one of the most impressive things is the 450e’s braking, which feels progressive and natural in a way that most electrified vehicle systems still struggle to achieve. There’s also regenerative braking, e-pedal style, using paddle shifters, and while it doesn’t bring you to a complete stop, it does slow the vehicle down.

Finally, a series of evasive maneuvers involving a set of witches hats at speeds over 50 km/h highlight the RZ’s sophisticated handling and roadholding virtues – although the hot and dry conditions have obviously also played in favor of the 450th.

Clearly, this course is far too smooth and controlled for any objective real-world assessment of the RZ’s steering feel, handling prowess, or ride comfort, but there remains a sense of wanting more, not less, and that must be a good thing. .

  • 2023 Lexus RZ450e |  driving gallery |  Press pictures 2023 Lexus RZ450e | driving gallery | Press pictures
  • 2023 Lexus RZ450e |  driving gallery |  Press pictures 2023 Lexus RZ450e | driving gallery | Press pictures

And, to reiterate, yoke steering is something you get used to quickly. It’s unclear if the novelty will fade after a period, but it works under these conditions, without being alien or strange; but rest assured, because a regular electric power steering system mechanically linked to the front axle will be standard equipment on most RZ models.

Lexus’ first dedicated EV offering brings a level of sporty performance, control and refinement that bodes extremely well for the final production RZ 450e.

First impressions are extremely encouraging.

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