March 17, 2023 By Kevin C. Limjoco

The Revolutionary Lexus EV Crossover and The Omotenashi Lexus Experience

The All-New 2023 Lexus RZ450e

I have been testing Lexus vehicles since the very first LS400 back in 1989 yet I only realized during this profound recent experience with the all-new RZ450e crossover in the South of France that it was my first official media trip with the brand since I founded C! Magazine in 2001.  Humorously, my Philippine media companion on this incredible Lexus trip, James Deakin, had the honor and privilege of having the most experience with the brand which includes his mind-blowing Goodwood drive in the iconic LFA supercar as our very first employee of C! until he went solo back in 2012. So please cut me some slack as I gush about my very first Omotenashi Lexus experience.    

I’ve been properly aware of the extreme levels of detail and thoughtfulness that Toyota Motor Philippines and Lexus Philippines performs at for over two decades but to actually experience it firsthand has been almost ethereal. I am very grateful as the intimate deep dive also allowed me to appreciate their collective efforts at a much more elevated level. The world launch of the all-new Lexus RZ450e EV crossover marks the first in-person media effort for the brand since the beginning of the global pandemic.

As a quick reminder, Omotenashi is a Japanese expression that essentially describes particular concepts of heightened hospitality as well as mindfulness and Lexus has not only celebrated the countenance but continually redefines it. 

The Lexus RZ450e Philippine media trip covered a week-long experience of luxury and refinement which began with an early 2:30 am pick up from my home via a chauffeur-driven (by Jess Perlada) flagship LS500h saloon, the same car and driver would return me back to complete the total journey. We flew out of Manila for Marseille via Turkish Airlines with a connection at the awesome new Istanbul Airport. The consistency of luxury and comfort was deliberate. A special shout-out to Carlo Ablaza, Vice President Lexus Brand Department at Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation and Nadinne Capistrano, Lexus Philippines Brand Officer and the lovely Madeleine Chan, Deputy General Manager Lexus Asia Pacific for organizing and inviting us to the media junket. 

Taking the lead and managing James and I throughout the Lexus trip was the wonderful hard-working Lexus Philippines brand marketing manager Jade Sison (who literally missed several important family occasions as well as her very own birthday to ensure we were handled the Lexus way). As a preamble to the RZ model presentation in Aix-en-Provence, South of France at the majestic Château La Coste in the Luberon Valley, we stayed at the Hôtel Dieu Intercontinental Marseille set in an exquisite 18th-century building in the historic quarter of the city. Marseille is the oldest city in France, dating to approximately 600 BC by Greek settlers from Phocaea, and the current capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

From the hotel we would visit key city heritage and cultural highlights like the Porte d’Orient war memorial located on the Kennedy corniche dedicated to the dead of the army of the East and distant lands of the First World War, the ancient city’s most popular symbol the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure, the modern architectural wonder museum called the MuCEM that is linked by one 115-meter footbridge to Fort Saint Jean, with a second 70-meter footbridge connecting to the 12th century medieval parish church of Saint-Laurent and the Palais Longchamp with its beautiful water features and lush gardens. In between touring the sights, we dined in and explored the Les Terrasses du Port and Les Docks Village malls ending the day with splendid third-wave specialty coffee at Deep Coffee located in Marseille’s Old Port. Then to cap off an already packed day brimming with rich cultural enlightenment, we were hosted to one of the finest seafood extravaganzas in Marseille, the Michelin-star restaurant L’ Épuisette managed by Chef Guillaume Sourrieu, perched dramatically on the rocks of the fishing haven Vallon des Auffes, that features one of the very best bouillabaisse-led dégustation multi-course meals I have ever eaten.   

On route to Château La Coste in Aix-en-Provence the following day, we had yet another fine eclectic dining experience for lunch at the bohemian Drôle d’endroit before taking a walking tour through the beautiful and historic town where archeological excavations have unearthed Roman architecture, some seen in common but protected areas. Founded by the Romans in 122 BC, Provence was called Aquae Sextiae. Aix-en-Provence is commonly regarded as a standard bearer for the arts prominently showcased by its famous citizen, the French painter Paul Cézanne. Our open-air cultural museum walk ended with the famous Cours Mirabeau which was built in the 17th century. So, the City of Water and Art makes perfect sense as the general location for the launch of the Lexus RZ450e which melds high technology with ingenuity, creativity, and fine craftsmanship. Which leads to our definitive location for testing the ultra-sophisticated Lexus RZ450e against the backdrop of incredible art installations and vineyards at the Château La Coste.

The 600-acre (243-hectares) Château La Coste is owned by Irish billionaire, international hotelier and developer Paddy McKillen. Château La Coste is a biodynamic vineyard (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Vermentino wine varieties), an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty with luxury accommodations in Villa La Coste where we were billeted. The gorgeous villa suite that I stayed in particular had a 110 sqm. floor area with an additional 40 sqm. terrace with a heated pool overlooking the valley. The vast and very engaging sculpture park contains art and architecture by Tadao Ando, Louise Bourgeois, Bob Dylan, Tracey Emin, André Fu, Frank Gehry, Andy Goldsworthy, Christopher Green, Kengo Kuma, Paul Matisse, Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Richard Serra, Conrad Shawcross, Lee Ufan, Ai Weiwei and Franz West among many other artists. Even the simple breakfast featured special bio eggs from Philippe Barras in Le Puy Sainte Réparade! In keeping with the Lexus theme of sustainable luxury, even the corporate loot bag giveaways used very tasteful biodegradable materials and the RZ450e test units were charged using standalone Hydrogen Fuel Cell generators. There was wine tasting of course as well as a nice excursion to the organic and fully AOP-certified 13-hectare Domaine Bajolle family olive oil farm now managed by Dr. Lisa Bajolle where we got to sample and take home some of the very fine and delicious liquid gold.    

Our fabulous farewell dinner was at the neighboring 18th Century Château de la Gaude amid a snow storm that hadn’t hit Provence in over 4 years during this period. The Michelin-starred chef, Matthieu Dupuis Baumal, managed the excellent dining experience at La Source and made us forget the cold temperatures. 

The Lexus RZ450e is already a mobility revolution, but the support efforts surrounding the new crossover made us all appreciate even the smallest details and nuances all the more. The driving experience of the all-new Lexus RZ450e was already a multi-sensory celebration but the standard-setting Omotenashi Lexus Experience made it the most enjoyable media event that I have ever had the honor and gratitude of being a participant in the past 22 years in the industry. 

So, together with the very popular unflappable social influencer and C! OG James Deakin, I present to you all the all-new fully electrified Lexus RZ450e crossover. The RZ450e is Lexus’ very first from the ground-up full-EV making it the harbinger for the next generation models to come from the ultra-premium brand.

The RZ450e’s deep dynamic capabilities and unique characteristics raises the definitive qualities of the Lexus Driving Signature: Comfort, Confidence and Control. The full expansive dynamic review of the Lexus RZ450e after over 350-kilometers of on-location testing will be featured soon in the upcoming C! Magazine Issue # 243. For now, I can share the most important salient points expressed by RZ Assistant Chief Engineer, Yushi Higashiyama and VP Area Operations Division Executive Managing Coordinator of Lexus Asia, Giri Venkatesh. 

RZ Assistant Chief Engineer Yushi Higashiyama

VP Area Operations Division Executive Managing Coordinator of Lexus Asia, Giri Venkatesh

The Lexus RZ450e features: 

  • Lexus’ all-new battery electric SUV is constructed on a dedicated BEV e-TNGA platform. 
  • Introduces new advanced technologies that enhance the Lexus Driving Signature handling and performance. 
  • Lexus-first e-Axles with DIRECT4 all-wheel drive torque control. 
  • Lexus Next Chapter ‘Seamless e-Motion’ design realizes the opportunities of a BEV, including a new Lexus spindle body yielding a slippery .26 cd drag coefficient. 
  • Long-life liquid-cooled, using high-resistance LLC coolant, 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery expected to retain at least 90% of its capacity after 10 years of driving. 
  • The efficient system achieves energy consumption between 16.8 kWh and 18.7 kWh per 100 kilometers in the combined WLTP cycle using permanent magnet motors that have high power density and 17,000 rpm rotation speeds. 
  • Further evolution of the Lexus Tazuna concept for a fully focused driver’s cockpit 
  • New technologies enhance life on board, including heat reflecting/insulating panoramic roof, radiant heaters and new Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system.
  • Full suite of safety and driver assistance features, including Lexus’ exclusive Safe Exit Assist preventing door opening into the path of vehicles and cyclists approaching from the rear.
  • Lexus to introduce breakthrough One Motion Grip steer-by-wire system with steering yoke on RZ.
  • Frequency Reactive Dampers (FRD) are outfitted to the RZ’s suspension, altering the dampening force on the extension stroke in response to road surface frequency input.
  • New Active Hydraulic Booster-G (AHB-G) braking system that works with the DIRECT4 system, RZ’s regenerative motors, and Lexus Safety System+ 3.0.
  • New climate control system that maintains cabin air quality using nanoe X™ technology.
  • New bespoke rolling stock for maximum performance and refinement.

The sharp-looking 5-seater Lexus RZ450e shares its platform with the significantly more modest Toyota bZ4X and the more off-road oriented Subaru Solterra. The proportional footprint of the RZ sits between the RX and the NX crossover models but with a more saloon-like orientation. The RZ measures 4,805 mm long, with a 2,850 mm wheelbase and short overhangs – 995 mm front, 960 mm rear. Overall height is 1,635 mm and the width is 1,895 mm (excluding door mirrors). The front motor produces 150 kW and the rear 80 kW, unified delivering the equivalent of 308 horsepower and approximately 320 lb-ft of torque. With multiple safety redundancies in all dynamic control parameters, the Lexus exclusive DIRECT4 intelligent system constantly and seamlessly balances the drive torque between the front and rear axles. The RZ has four drive modes; Sport being the most tactile and entertaining while the polar opposite Range mode maximizes precisely that by curbing enthusiasm and climate control. The torque bias of the DIRECT4 all-wheel-drive system is adjusted in milliseconds – swifter than any mechanical system.

Using the onboard 11kW charger on a completely depleted battery, the RZ can charge fully in 6 hours and 30 minutes using a 3-phase AC charger, 10 hours in a 1-phase AC charger, and 30 minutes in a high-speed DC charger. Maximum range is approximately 407-kilometers on 20-inch alloys and 440-kilometers on 18-inch alloys. With the second row in its upright position, the trunk will hold 522 liters; when folded the maximum volume increases to 1451 liters. There is an additional 58 liters of storage underneath the floor board which also stores the BEV charging cable. There will be two bespoke infotainment audio systems offered to support the crisp 14-inch display, a 10-speaker system and a rocking 13-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround system, both of which feature tasteful Acceleration Sound Control to reflect the RZ’s state and behavior which can be switched off if you want the eerie silence.

Of course, the RZ has all the new updated charging points, an excellent stable wireless smartphone charger, and the standard Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto connectivity on top of an abundance of very desirable standard equipment from the very customizable instrument displays, unique progressive ambient lighting, to the sharp information-rich HUD system, rich materials, to the thoughtful physical switchgear. The all-new soon-to-be-released Lexus RZ450e crossover offers so much more in every way, it promises to elevate both EV and luxury standards while increasing driving immersion and the joy of clean mobility. The attention to expected fine details and the wonder of the unexpected only makes the revolutionary crossover even more desirable. The very attractive Lexus RZ with its very cool rear winglets and real-world usability doesn’t just promise a bright new future to be enjoyed one day soon but with a conscience and environmental responsibility today. Top speed is governed at 160 km/h while acceleration from 0-100 km/h is accomplished in 5.3 seconds. When the time comes that the all-new Lexus RZ450e is available in our domestic market, discerning buyers will be beyond satisfied with its performance and packaging.

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