Lexus electrified!

Good editor Carolyn Enting takes the new all-electric Lexus RZ and hybrid electric Lexus RX on a dream test drive from Gibbston Valley over the Crown Range Road to Wānaka and back again.

My smile may be all cheese yet from the moment I sat behind the wheel of the new Lexus RZ I couldn’t stop grinning.

The new sleek design and aerodynamic silhouette of Lexus’ first dedicated pure battery electric vehicle (BEV), appeals to my style sensibilities, and it’s glorious to drive, hugging the road like a race car, though of course I wasn’t speeding.

My turn in the hot seat – it has heated seats (front and rear) and a heated steering wheel – saw me driving through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic and scenic landscapes with ease and comfort, which also put a smile on my dial.

Winding up and over the scenic Crown Range Road and up to Lake Hāwea with stop-offs in Wānaka and Bendigo, then back through the stunning Gibbston Valley, it’s safe to say my eyes weren’t just on the road!

If the car drifted too far to the left, or right, it would self-correct, gently guiding me back to safety, which feels kind of odd when you are the one who is supposed to be in control but at the same time extremely comforting.

This safety feature is not only designed to keep you safe but to get drivers used to new tech, preparing us for the future of autonomous driving (when cars will drive themselves)! We’re a fair way off from having fully autonomous vehicles in New Zealand – though the self-parking in the Lexus RX and RZ is definitely impressive.

Additional features include the new Lexus RZ and RX Driver Monitor, an infrared camera system which detects your line of sight to ensure you are paying full attention to the road. If your attention wavers, a soft sound and message will pop up reminding you to refocus. Worst case scenario, if you have a medical event or fall asleep, the car will slow down.

The Tazuna Cockpit adds ease to the user experience – inspired by the relationship between horse and rider through a set of reins – everything is within easy reach with a new multimedia system with a 14-inch touchscreen, including Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless charging for your device.

A lot of thought has also gone into the design with regard to performance as well as aesthetics. The evolution of Lexus BEV design means the RZ doesn’t need a big grill to cool the engine and has allowed Lexus to focus on a more aerodynamic design which Lexus calls a “spindle body”, and it’s sleek!

Because the car battery is situated underneath you, the interior cabin is extra roomy, including the back seats which also have a heating and cooling function – while targeted radiant heating in the front works like a warm blanket over your legs.

The panoramic sunroof (available in Dynamic grade models only) is also worth a special mention. It reflects infrared radiation to reduce radiant heat on sunny days and keeps the heat in on a cold day. The sunroof can also be dimmed instantly, at a push of a button, to block exterior light, which is another amazing feature.

The quality craftsmanship as well as your ability to customise satisfies the senses while providing an element of fun! The RZ Dynamic grade variant allows you to change the colour of the interior ambient lighting to suit your preference.

These luxury touchpoints, while reducing your carbon footprint, certainly create happiness in motion. No wonder I’m smiling!


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