Lexus RZ 450e: long-term test review

First report: we’re ready for lift-off as we take delivery of a luxury electric SUV with, quite literally, all the bells and whistles

  • 4.0 out of 5

    How we review cars


    There's a lot to like about the Lexus RZ, including its futuristic tech, refinement and comfort. The seats are lovely and there’s a good amount of space on offer, with practicality combining with head-turning exterior design. But the driving range is disappointing and those warning alerts are infuriating.

    • Mileage: 512 miles
    • Efficiency: 3.2miles/kWh
    • A little bit of Lexus luxury has landed in south London and been promptly renamed ‘the rocket car’ by my grandson Zachary. It hasn’t come from outer space, but the new, all-electric RZ certainly possesses futuristic looks, sounds and tech touches that I might not have thought were possible in a car just a decade ago.

      The Lexus rolled up last month on the same day that I waved goodbye to the excellent Citroen C5 X. The spec sheet was accessible via a QR code on the keyfob and I was gobsmacked to see the price tag. At £74,000, our new RZ is more than twice the price of the £34k Citroen. 

      As far as first impressions go, it didn’t disappoint. One press of the power button and the RZ moves the electric front seat forward and the steering wheel out to meet you. A neat trick, which always impresses passengers – but after some time with the car, I’m smitten, too.

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      Zack and his baby sister, Hope, are transfixed by the big 14-inch touchscreen display that welcomes us to the RZ when
      it’s powered on, with a swirl of lines that become the Lexus logo before disappearing again. And we all love showing off the sunroof, which goes from an opaque white to transparent and back again at the touch of a button; you just can’t help doing it a few times. It’s the kind of glass you see fitted to million-pound houses on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

      The whole interior has a luxurious feel. At first glance, the air-con control dials stand out. They have a beautifully subtle illuminated colour fade (cool to warm) inside black, textured knobs, making adjustment simple. They match the textured chrome drive selector, and at night the insides of the doors light up with a subtle display that appears to mimic the pattern.

      I’m a massive music fan, so the absolutely fantastic Mark Levinson premium surround sound audio system is getting plenty of use. There is also a button on the dash for the 360-degree camera, which gives a view of where the RZ is parked in relation to kerbs, trees, cars and people before setting off. It kicks in for an overhead and semi-transparent view of the car when parking. It’s all very clever.

      It’s not just the inside that impresses. The RZ has genuine head-turning looks, attracting glances so frequently that I
      am becoming accustomed to people’s reactions. Pedestrians usually double-take. First they look at the car, then they look at the nose for a badge to confirm the manufacturer. Finally they look at me, wondering who drives a car like this!

      I’ve had waves, thumbs up and, I kid you not, someone has even danced for me. So I’d say job done to the Lexus design team. The bold Sonic Copper body colour and black wheelarch mouldings help, as does the sharp, shark nose front with yet more textured and black body panels.

      It’s not all great, though. I mentioned the substantially cheaper Citroen C5 X, and in a few key places it ticks boxes that the Lexus doesn’t. For example, the RZ doesn’t appear to lock itself when you walk away. I have to press the fob and sometimes it locks silently, but other times it gives off several loud beeps, which I’m sure my neighbours love.

      There are also no quick-release buttons to drop the rear seats from the 522-litre boot. And the RZ’s big sat-nav display shows roads as very narrow, spindly lines; there’s no indication of real-time traffic hotspots on the map, either. As someone who has to negotiate the congested streets of the capital on a daily basis, that’s a real frustration.

      The other elephant in the room is range. The RZ was delivered with a modest 186 miles left until empty, but I was a bit shocked and disappointed to see the charge indicator at 85 per cent. The best I’ve managed to get into it is 230 miles on a full overnight charge from my home wallbox. The official claim is 252 miles, but let’s be honest, it’s summer and it’s warm, so I doubt it will get much better. As with all EVs, if I use the air-con that range instantly drops, in this case to below 200 miles from a full battery.

      One other issue is the infuriating amount of noise the RZ makes via an array of safety alerts. I’ve had this to a lesser degree on other cars. It’s almost like I’m asking for trouble by switching the systems off. I have a suspicion that some might have to go. Watch this space!

      Model: Lexus RZ 450e Takumi
      On fleet since: July 2023
      Price new: £74,000
      Powertrain: 71.4kWh battery, 2x e-motors, 309bhp
      Options: Sonic Copper metallic paint (£250)
      Insurance*: Group: 45 Quote: £969
      MIleage: 512 miles
      Range: 230 miles (as tested)
      Efficiency: 3.2 miles/kWh (as tested)
      Charge time: 10-80% 30 mins (150kW)
      Any problems? None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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