Lexus has released official details and a huge gallery of the new Lexus RZ, the premium brand’s first global fully-electric model. We’ve seen bits of the electric SUV before, and a few full shots in funky lighting, but this is proper.

The company says that as its first globally-available dedicated EV, the new RZ marks Lexus’ transition into a ‘BEV-centered brand’. The SUV sits on an EV-specific platform, the e-TNGA, which Lexus says provides optimal weight distribution through an ideal placement of the battery (71.4 kWh lithium-ion) and motors.

The RZ – which is related to the Toyota bZ4X – is 4,805 mm long and 1,895 mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2,850 mm. Compared to the current (first-generation) Lexus NX sold in Malaysia, the EV is 165 mm longer and 50 mm wider. The RZ’s wheelbase is a significant 190 mm longer than the NX’s. If it looks low slung, it is – despite the larger footprint, the EV (at 1,635 mm) is just 5 mm taller than the NX. The wheels you see here are 20-inch items.

The RZ you see here is the 450e, and it’s comes with a new all-wheel drive system called DIRECT4. It uses acceleration, cornering-speed and steering-angle information to automatically adjust front-rear torque delivery and braking force to all four wheels.

The system uses a front and rear e-axle, each equipped with a high-torque electric motor (150 kW front, 80 kW rear), transaxle and inverter in a compact unit. As each motor is directly connected to the wheels by a single driveshaft, it operates without delay. The front e-axle is packaged with a short front-rear layout, while the rear e-axle features a low-profile layout for maximum interior and cargo space.

From standstill and during straight-line acceleration, the system uses a front-to-rear drive-force ratio between 60:40 and 40:60 for minimum vehicle pitch. When the steering wheel is turned, drive force is biased to the front wheels between 50 and 75% for “nimble response and excellent steering feel”. When exiting a corner, torque distribution to the rear wheels is increased to between 50 and 80% for max traction while controlling vehicle pitch.

The DIRECT4 is the main player responsible for “Lexus Driving Signature”, which the company describes as “a uniquely Lexus driving experience that aims to achieve predictable, linear response according to the driver’s intentions”. The other players are AHB-G (Active Hydraulic Booster-G, independently controls efficiency of the front and rear regenerative braking) and a Lexus-first steer-by-wire system.

Speaking of steering, the RZ debuts a compact yoke-like steering wheel. Lexus says that this unconventional wheel greatly reduces the driver’s workload, eliminating the need for hand-over-hand operation, such as for intersections, U-turns, parking and winding roads. As the wheel is “topless”, it enabled designers to lower the placement of the instrument panel. There’s also a Lexus-first dial shift knob on the centre console.

The RZ rides on front MacPherson strut suspension and a rear trailing arm double-wishbones. For the first time, Lexus uses frequency-reactive dampers that alter the damping force on the extension stroke in response to road surface frequency input. Available front and rear performance dampers reduce unnecessary body movement and provide more direct response.

Last but not least for the technical details, the target range on a single charge is around 450 km in the J-WLTC mode. Traditionally, Japanese cycles read higher, and Lexus’ Australian press release quotes an estimated 400 km. Not a step up from the best EVs on sale today, range-wise. The related Toyota bZ4X gets 516 km in the WLTP cycle, though.

However, there’s a battery claim that we don’t often see elsewhere. Lexus says that battery-control technology ensures a “world-class” battery capacity retention rate of at least 90% after 10 years. Apparently, an even higher battery capacity is available with a timer charging function that avoids over-charging. So, while the range isn’t spectacular, it won’t deteriorate much with time.

The RZ’s cabin uses the tazuna concept seen first in the second-generation NX. This means that it’s all centered around the driver, there’s a big central touchscreen, and there’s no more unintuitive Lexus Remote Touch with the much-derided mouse-style control. As mentioned above, a yoke-style steering is available, and the shift knob is a Lexus-first.

Other cabin highlights include the electronic “e-latch” door system (as per the new NX), Lexus-first electric radiant heaters (combined with a heat-pump system), spacious rear-seat accommodation with generous couple distance of 1,000 mm, available Ultrasuede material (30% bio-based sustainable materials) and a panoramic roof with a Lexus-first dimming function.

In the safety department, the latest Lexus Safety System + includes Proactive Driving Assist (PDA), Pre-Collision Safety (PCS), all-speed radar cruise control and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) systems. Also on are Advanced Drive (traffic jam support) and Advanced Park (with remote smartphone function).

There’s also an optional driver monitor provides a warning when the system detects that the driver is drowsy or looking sideways. If the driver’s posture is severely compromised, the system warns other drivers by flashing the hazard lights while gently decelerating the vehicle. The RZ will then stop in its lane, unlock the doors and automatically notify emergency services.

Now, it’s unusual for an EV press release to talk about non-BEVs, but this is Toyota, and the Japanese giant has consistently maintained an open mind when it comes to electrification and power sources (it’s still putting hope and effort on hydrogen, for instance), as opposed to a full focus on BEVs and nothing else. More on Toyota president Akio Toyoda’s thoughts on EVs dominating the car scene here.

The company says that the Lexus Electrified portfolio will have hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full EVs “to exceed the needs and expectations of a more diverse set of luxury buyers”, explicitly mentioning HEVs and PHEVs.

Lexus’ timeline is to offer a full line-up of BEVs in all categories by 2030. Five years from that point, the brand seeks to achieve 100% EV sales globally. What do you think of the first step in that journey, the Lexus RZ?