Toyota’s luxury sub-brand, Lexus will officially take the wraps off its first electric vehicle (EV) on Wednesday, April 20th at 6pm Malaysian time. Until then, Lexus has provided only two images of the RZ 450e to tease us with.
First is a shot of the front fascia which follows Lexus’ design language but with one big omission. Based on the image, it looks like the EV won’t have the spindle grille found on all modern Lexus models. Instead, the body panel extends into the grill area, creating a solid and closed off section. Lexus had to design it this way to improve aerodynamics which in turn improves efficiency.
That said, it does retain Lexus’s tick-shaped LED daytime running lights which sit above the headlights on the RZ 450e, creating an eyebrow look. If you were wondering, Lexus’ first EV will be a crossover.
The last image is a quite generous shot of the interior. The first thing that caught my eyes was the missing trackpad that Lexus uses as one of the input methods for the infotainment system – which will not be missed.
However, many people on the internet are triggered by the yoke style steering which was implemented by Tesla in its Model S Plaid. Reviewers and customers had mixed opinions about the practicality aspect of the steering wheel. On one hand, the absence of a top rim provides an uninterrupted view of the instrument cluster.
But on the other hand, it makes driving the vehicle a bit of a challenge. Firstly, senior drivers who have been accustomed to a wheel design will find the transition painfully difficult. Turning the yoke steering might be somewhat frustrating as well because there is less surface to grip, especially making three-point turns.
I find it odd this rather impractical choice is coming from a carmaker that makes practical vehicles, but Lexus could just be an early adopter of what could be the norm in the future. It is also worth mentioning that parent company Toyota is offering a yoke style steering on its upcoming BZ4X electric crossover.
Reportedly, the yoke style steering will be paired with the optional steer-by-wire driving system. This system uses a wireless connection to communicate the steering input to the wheels, thus does not have a steering column, belts, and master cylinders like in traditional steering systems. It remains to be seen if Lexus will also offer it as an optional extra on the RZ 450e or the drive-by-wire system will be fitted as standard, but the wait is not long now.
Furthermore, both the Lexus RZ 450e and Toyota BZ4X seem to have similar proportions, which could mean that both vehicles might be built on Toyota’s e-TNGA platform.
Both Lexus and Toyota are playing catch up in the EV space as their competitors have already started selling theirs globally. EVs from carmakers like Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are already on sale in Malaysia.