Aside from the obvious emission changes that come with the electrification of cars, one of the most noticeable alterations stemming from the electric paradigm shift is the new design language we’re seeing from automakers. Perhaps it’s because electrification carries with it a futuristic connotation, or maybe it’s simply a coincidental change in taste, but the electric cars being offered by automakers across the board feature sleeker designs and more angular designs. For Lexus, its newly-announced all-electric SUV, the RZ, signals not only a change in aesthetic but also marks the introduction of a whole new powertrain.
It’s no secret that Lexus’ SUVs are incredibly popular. Their sales are consistently high and they remain a go-to choice for luxury SUVs, which made it all the more worthwhile when the Japanese automaker announced in early December that it would be releasing a fully electric luxury SUV, the RZ 450e. While Lexus didn’t really announce much in terms of performance specifications, newly-released photos sure make it look like the RZ 450e will have Lexus’ Direct4 AWD powertrain due to the Direct4 logo being visible on the car’s rear. Direct4 AWD is a unique powertrain built specifically for Lexus’ hybrid and electric models that employs front and rear high-output electric motors to control and adjust the distribution of torque and braking power to all four wheels. With the Direct4 AWD, each e-axle sports its own high-torque electric motor and transaxle that are connected by a single drive shaft to distribute torque and power to the wheels evenly.
Moreover, the RZ 450e’s smooth curvature, minimalist design, and spindle grille signal a shift in the design language for Lexus’ future SUVs. In some senses, it looks like a more premium version of sister brand Toyota’s bZX4 concept SUV that was announced earlier this year. Lexus has yet to specify pricing information or a release window for the RZ 450e.