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Road tests

New Lexus RZ 450e 2023 review

The new all-electric Lexus RZ SUV arrives in the UK as a rival for the Tesla Model Y

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict

In some ways the RZ is a fairly conventional EV whose range is disappointing, especially given the price. However, in others – including the up-to-date tech, superb refinement and excellent comfort – the RZ is every inch the premium EV rival to cars in this class. It’s also beautifully built. But overall, it’s that lack of flexibility from the battery that ultimately counts against it.

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We’ve waited a long time for Lexus to offer a big, bespoke premium EV – and we’ll have to wait a little longer for the full effect, because the RZ with drive-by-wire steering and a yoke-style steering wheel won’t arrive until next year at the earliest. But the version with conventional steering is here now, so has playing the waiting game worked? How does it compare with rivals such as the BMW iX3 and Tesla Model Y?

Well, the cabin is certainly as premium-feeling and as well built as you’d expect of any Lexus with a £64,500 price tag (our car is a base-spec RZ 450e Premium Pack).

Inheriting the infotainment from its NX and RX siblings, the RZ’s tech is strong too. Its 14-inch screen offers bright graphics and lots of features. However, the digital dash could be a little more sophisticated, and you might find the constant binging and bonging from the various systems infuriating.

Once you’ve turned this off, the cabin is so quiet that you’ll be incredibly relaxed on the move – and the ride matches this. With 18-inch wheels, the RZ’s e-TNGA platform and suspension soak up bumps and control the body over rolling undulations fairly well.

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While we’re keen to try the new One Motion Grip steering system, the regular set-up is fine. There’s next to no feel (do you really need it in a large, electric SUV?) but the weight is good and it feels natural.

The ride and handling are helped by Lexus’s Direct4 all-wheel drive system, which adjusts the torque to the front and rear motors to help retain a settled posture under acceleration, straight-line driving and cornering, so the brand claims. With 309bhp and 435Nm of torque, performance is adequate rather than outright rapid, but a 5.3-second 0-62mph time is okay.

You’re aware of the 2,055kg kerbweight through direction changes, but given that most of that mass is located low down in the chassis, there’s enough stability for the RZ to feel solid and reassuring.

That mass stems from the RZ 450e’s 71.4kWh battery, which is also where some of the car’s problems begin. Lexus claims up to 271 miles of range, but our car showed 160 miles on a little over 70 per cent charge; that works out at nearer 230 miles of range. By comparison, a £52,990 Tesla Model Y Long Range serves up a claimed 331 miles. The Lexus charges at 150kW, so an 80 per cent top-up takes 30 minutes – a fairly standard figure that matches BMW’s iX3.

The RZ offers decent space, too. There’s enough legroom in the rear, although the headroom is a bit tighter, while boot space stands at 522 litres. An iX3 offers 510.

Kit on the Premium Pack car is more than adequate, so given that the Lexus is pricier than many of its competitors, think twice about whether you’d need more if you’re in the market for an RZ.

Alongside the 14-inch screen (with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity) you get full keyless go, heated, electrically adjustable leather seats, wireless phone charging, a reversing camera with all-round parking sensors, a panoramic roof, a powered tailgate, dual-zone climate control, a 10-speaker sound system and lots of safety and driver-assistance tech.

Model:Lexus RZ 450e Premium Pack
Price:£64,500
Powertrain:71.4kWh battery/2x e-motors
Power/torque:309bhp/435Nm
Transmission:Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:5.3 seconds
Top speed:99mph
Range:271 miles
Charging:100kW (0-80% 30mins)
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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