Lexus maintains its status as a design innovator in creating a radical look for its all-new, all-electric RZ that directly interprets the SUV’s power and performance.
Progressive design always carries an element of risk: a distinctively different approach may not be to the taste of all customers, and new ideas can take time to find favour. This was no disincentive for the RZ’s creative team, which has fully embraced design opportunities specific to the EV, while retaining the refinement and styling qualities that are essentially “Lexus.”
Daichi Kimura, who led the exterior design programme, explains: “When we talk about an EV, people might think about household appliances, but we prefer to focus on performance and make that a design feature – one that is uniquely Lexus.”
The RZ’s performance and its delivery with typical Lexus smoothness are the inspiration for a “seamless E-motion” design concept.
Perhaps the most notable expression of this new design freedom is the RZ’s front end. With no internal combustion engine, cooling requirements are much reduced, so the signature Lexus spindle grille has been dispensed with. Instead, the area where the grille mesh would be becomes a spindle-shaped panel in the car’s body colour. Its form defines a new “spindle body” effect that extends rearwards from the nose. The visual impact is emphasised by the adjacent frontal areas being contrast-finished in black, a low bonnet line and a more pronounced look for the front wings.
This new arrangement has a big impact on the air flow over the car, calling for new solutions to secure aerodynamic efficiency. This innovation can be seen at the rear of the vehicle, where the tailgate glass has been precisely angled and a new spoiler configuration has been adopted. At first glance, the spoiler appears conventional, but in fact the centre section has been deleted, leaving two protruding horn-like elements that manage the flow of air away from the back of the vehicle and help maintain stability – a perfect example of function complemented by form.
The RZ’s new EV platform allows for a long wheelbase with the wheels pushed to each corner. The spacious interior – in particular the headroom for rear seat occupants – is reflected in the car’s silhouette, with the peak point of the roof moved further back.
The instant response of the electrified powertrain and DIRECT4 all-wheel drive force control system is expressed in the RZ’s dynamic styling. According to Chief Engineer Takashi Watanabe, the design is inspired by the stance of a running cheetah, witnessed in the car’s nose-to-tail stance, muscular flanks and sense of powerful volume over the rear wheels.