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A luxury experience

Words Josie Steenhart | Photos Shaun Jeffers

Dawn is rising over the mountains in hues of peach and our breath is visible in little puffs into the snow-crisp air as the small group of lifestyle media from around New Zealand (and by this, I mean Auckland, plus Christchurch-based me representing the south) gather on the grandly sweeping driveway at the entrance of Gibbston Valley Lodge.

While last night we wined and dined in a stunning private dining room downstairs (I know, it’s a hard life), today we’re all business – putting the brand new fully electric Lexus RZ 450e through its paces in the Central Otago terrain – but luckily, with Lexus, even business is done in luxury and style. I could get used to this.

Yes, there are a lot of technical details that ensure driving the RZ is a premium experience – even on the still-icy hairpin turns of the Crown Range (if you know you know) – but a few of my personal favourite elements are the highly efficient and very pleasant Lexus-first radiant heating system (particularly on this chilly early winter day), reassuring safety technology, the smooooooth driving experience on any road conditions and sooooo much interior space.

The impressive battery range means we can travel in relaxed comfort from Gibbston Valley to the exceptional Rippon winery in Wānaka to the breathtaking shores of Lake Hawea, on to Cloudy Bay’s lush digs in Northburn then back to Queenstown without batting an eyelid.

There are two RZ 450e variants, Core and Dynamic, and while I wouldn’t turn down either (lol), the Dynamic has a couple of dozen extra features including a power dimming panoramic roof that’s pretty much made for sailing through the breathtaking scenery of Central Otago, 20” black and machine faced alloy wheels (slick), dreamy Ultrasuede seat fabric and Lexus Teammate Advanced Parking (look mum, no hands!).

Call me superficial (don’t actually) but as an appreciator of good design, it would also be remiss if I didn’t mention just how gorgeous the RZ looks.

Lexus calls the RZ 450e the “halo model” of its electric fleet as it is the marque’s first dedicated Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and leads the fresh approach to the future of its BEVS, and its brave design and aerodynamic silhouette beautifully expresses the vehicle’s elevated personality. While the side profile of the RZ is unmistakably Lexus, the front and rear feature a completely new Lexus Electrified look that’s all sleek lines and sharp angles. Something you need to see for yourself!

Lexus continues to push its design inspiration and practices, drawing on the ancient Japanese principle of omotenashi – a concept that describes one’s ability to anticipate the needs of another, even before they arise – in everything they do, and utilising the traditional Japanese art of takumi in its craftsmanship.
While it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, becoming a Lexus takumi master takes more than 60,000 hours of meticulous attention to detail. In the Lexus fleet this translates into impeccable, artisanal details throughout, such as the unique signature spindle grille. For every Lexus grille, we’re told, hundreds of drawings and clay models are developed to perfect each part. And that’s just one example of many where takumi is used. I’m no car expert, but that is a nice touch.

Last but definitely not least there are six chic exterior colour choices: Ether Metallic, Sonic Copper, Graphite Black, Sonic Shade, Sonic Quartz and Sonic Iridium, that are all as amazing and stylish as they sound, plus three additional two-tone choices for the Dynamic.

Pricing for the RZ 450e starts at $141,600 + ORC, with Lexus dealerships taking orders now for this exciting new model. If you haven’t considered a BEV yet, now is the time.

Click here to view the story in the latest edition of 03 Magazine.

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