While the RZ uses the same 71.4kWh battery as the bZ4X a more powerful combination of motors puts some ground between the Lexus and its Toyota origins, a 150kW front motor paired with an 80kW one at the rear (the bZ4X has two 80kW motors) for a system total of 313PS (230kW) and 435Nm of torque. Healthy, but trailing the likes of the Polestar 2, Jaguar I-Pace and posher versions of the impressive Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60 family. It’s less of an issue on the road, where the RZ feels decisively quicker than the bZ4X, fast enough for any real-world driving situation and appropriate to the Lexus ethos of refinement over outright, stat-chasing performance. There are no tricksy multi-mode dampers, air springs or other gimmicks beneath, just a more traditional focus on body stiffness, well-judged passive suspension and a near-obsessive dedication to eradicating NVH through targeted body reinforcement and soundproofing. That's nearly undone by the 20-inch wheels you get on the upper Premium Plus and Takumi trim levels and their brittleness over sharper bumps. The standard 18s on the base trim are smoother and, thanks to their low rolling resistance tyres, score you another 20 miles or so of range. After chatting to Lexus it seems these will now be a ‘downgrade’ option on Premium Plus if you so choose.
A launch test route isn’t enough to get a meaningful sense of efficiency but, from what we could gather, you’re going to need every bit of range you can claw back as well, the bold claims of 3.7 miles per kWh more like 2.8 at a relatively relaxed cross-country pace on the 20-inch wheels, and about 3.1 on the 18s on a relatively brisk winter’s day. Lexus claims an absolute best-case of 273 miles but, based on our stats, a usable 200 miles is going to be hard won. As on the bZ4X, with no indication of percentage of remaining battery charge, it’s hard to really keep track of your efficiency and likely real-world range, too.
Meanwhile, the RZ’s real USP won’t be available until 2025 at the earliest, but Lexus let us it try out anyway. Called One Motion Grip, it’s an optional steer-by-wire system with a distinctive yoke-style controller. Where others have attached such devices to conventional steering columns for a style over content novelty factor Lexus is, in its style, doing it properly with no physical connection to the steering rack. This permits an endlessly variable steering ratio so at low speeds you can go from lock to lock without going hand over hand, the system then relaxing as the speeds rise for a more natural feel. The weighting doesn’t seemingly change, though, the ability to filter out what Lexus considers undesirable ‘noise’ from the tyres and suspension meaning zero feedback. Frankly, this is a little unsettling, the first time you approach a corner at any speed feeling like a leap of faith given you have no clue how much steering output you’ll get for a given input. You do acclimatise but, in its current configuration, it still feels a little twitchy in the low to mid-speed range, situations like roundabouts where there can be a big variance in corner radius and entry speeds made for some jerky progress until we built trust in how it would react. Work in progress and, perhaps, an answer to a question nobody was asking. But a talking point, at least, and something to make the RZ stand out from the crowd, which it arguably needs.