Lexus has expanded its electric vehicle lineup with the introduction of the new RZ 300e. This entry-level model is set to appeal to a wider audience with its more affordable price point and front-wheel-drive configuration.
The RZ 300e packs a punch with its single front-mounted electric motor, generating a respectable 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. Obviously the motor is borrowed from the FWD Toyota bZ4x as is most of the "new" RZ. The power source for this EV is the same 71.4 kWh battery pack we find in the RZ 450e, delivering an impressive WLTC range of 372 miles. However, it's worth noting that this range may vary when opting for the available 20-inch wheels since the test results are for the 18-inch wheels.
The RZ 300e inherits the driving concept known as "The Natural," which prioritizes a responsive and intuitive driving experience. This concept was initially developed for the RZ 450e and has been seamlessly integrated into the FWD RZ 300e. With a focus on energy efficiency, the RZ 300e promises an expanded cruising range to meet the demands of a diverse customer base.
One key enhancement that sets the RZ 300e apart from its siblings is its newly tuned suspension. Lexus engineers have worked their magic on optimizing rear springs, stabilizers, and shock absorbers. These improvements aim to strike a balance between comfort and agility while taking full advantage of the 220 lb weight difference compared to the RZ 450e.
In Japan, where the RZ 300e made its debut, it comes with an enticing price tag starting from ¥8,200,000 (a smidgen under $56,000), representing a savings of roughly 7% compared to the RZ 450e. Lexus clearly hopes this move is likely to make EV ownership more accessible to a broader range of consumers, which in turn should translate to better sales numbers.
Lexus is well aware that EVs can face challenges when recharging in chilly temperatures. To address this concern, both the RZ 300e and its more powerful sibling, the RZ 450e, will feature a new battery rapid heating system. This system is designed to accelerate the recharging process during cold weather, ensuring that electric vehicles remain reliable even when the mercury drops.
In an effort to expand its footprint in the EV market, Lexus has announced plans to introduce the RZ lineup, including the RZ 300e, in nine new countries and regions, with a particular focus on Central and South America. This strategic move aligns with Lexus's commitment to - eventually - becoming a brand centered on BEVs.
The RZ 300e is a significant step in Lexus's journey towards electrification. Since the release of the RX400h in 2005, the brand wanted to be seen as a leader in electrification within the luxury market. Whether that’s true or not, it depends on a perspective but Lexus has a better record than its mothership Toyota.
Lexus's broader vision, "Lexus Electrified," is an ambitious plan aimed at creating a carbon-neutral society by popularizing electric vehicles while catering to diverse customer needs. Big words and even bigger challenges ahead - let’s hope Lexus can deliver.