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THE FIRST REAL CAR – AUTOMOBIL REVUE

Lexus is somewhat proud that the UX 300E was Toyota’s first battery-electric model. Now, in the course of the Great Electric Attack, follows the first real BEV, which stands on a platform specially developed for this purpose. The Lexus RZ, as the new model is called, was developed from scratch. Not alone, of course, and the similarities with Toyota’s debut are undeniable: both are based on the E-TNGA platform and also share some other systems as well. There is nothing to be said against it, after all, other groups are very successful in building and marketing identical parts. And because Lexus goes its own way when it comes to interior design and value, the similarities between the Lexus RZ and Toyota BZ4X are manageable.

What both models have in common is the lithium-ion battery, which is located in the car’s floor and has a capacity of 71.4 kWh. This doesn’t seem like much at first, since capacities in the premium region, which Lexus is active in, tend to be as high as 90 kWh. There are more aspects to consider than just kilowatt-hours, says Tine Poels, Marketing and Product Manager at Lexus Europe. Instead, you have to find the perfect compromise between battery size, charging time, and costs. Costs in particular are a very important point, even if they are more suitable for Toyota than for Lexus. It makes sense to keep the battery a little smaller and therefore cheaper, lighter and more environmentally friendly. In addition, the light battery has the advantage that the drive generally consumes less electricity, which in turn benefits the range. The consumption value of the Lexus RZ, which has not yet been homologated, is said to be less than 18 kWh / 100 km, and has a range of about 400 km.

By 2030 or earlier

One of the most distinctive design elements at Lexus in recent years has been the large grille – which will become obsolete with the switch to an electric motor. An attempt was made to move the design to a front without a radiator, with two-tone paint running over the hood and front apron, and the spinners under the headlights, says Tina Boyles. Inside, the new infotainment system, as already used on the NX, and, of course, the unusual steering wheel are striking. As in the Toyota BZ4X, the Lexus RZ also has an optional wired steering and therefore asymmetric steering wheel. One-Motion-Grip is the name of the principle in Lexus, which enables a variable steering ratio so that reaching above the steering wheel is no longer necessary. For the RZ show, Lexus only had pre-production cars ready and equipped with the wire-guided steering. Your first test drive should show how that feels. One-Motion-Grip will likely not be available for market launch this fall, but will only be approved next year.

In terms of feel too, not much can be said based on the pre-series models. Thanks to the long wheelbase and battery installed flat at the bottom of the car, the space became quite large, especially in the rear. The two-part electrically dimmable glass roof provides plenty of light.

When the RZ hits the market in the fall (and is available to pre-order online now), it will be the first of a wide range of electric vehicles that Lexus plans to launch in the coming years. If the brand wants to be electric by 2030, launches will have to go at an appropriate pace. Pascal Roach, deputy managing director of Lexus Europe, expressed optimism in an interview with Automobile Review: “It may be sooner. That remains to be seen.” But he is also realistic and adds: “When we talk about fully electrifying, it is mainly about Central and Western Europe. Each market has its own electrification pace, so we have to be able to offer a suitable car.”

Lexus is also cautious in sales. While other brands have also introduced online sales in the context of electrification and digitization, online sales and direct sales are not a problem for Ruch: “We trust our dealer network. And it will remain so in the future.” Incremental evolution rather than a complete revolution – this has always been the strength of Toyota.

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