Automakers typically offer two- and all-wheel-drive versions of their EVs, with the AWD models keeping the 2WD’s electric motor and adding another motor at the opposite axle. That means the AWD models usually have a lot more power than their 2WD counterparts. The Volkswagen ID.4, for instance, produces 201 horsepower in 2WD form and 295 hp with AWD.
Toyota doesn’t do this with the bZ4X. The standard 2WD version has a 150-kW (201-hp) motor at the front, but selecting AWD places 80-kW motors at each axle, for a combined output of 214 hp. For the bZ4X, the meager performance gains with AWD are essentially offset by its heavier weight.
While many Lexus models are merely upscale models of underlying Toyotas — the Lexus UX 200 is a reskinned Toyota C-HR, and the Lexus ES 350 is a leather-soaked Avalon — the RZ 450e is more than just a bZ4X with a prestigious badge. The proof is under the hood, or more accurately, below the body. The Lexus is all-wheel-drive only, but it uses the larger 150-kW motor in the front and the 80-kW motor in the rear. Its combined 230 kW of output is equivalent to 308 horsepower, or almost 50% more than the most potent bZ4X.
The extra power will undoubtedly make the RZ 450e feel sportier than its Toyota sibling, not to mention give the Lexus the legs it needs to compete with other small luxury electric SUVs. The bZ4X is down on power compared to other EVs in its class, and it’s heartening to see that the RZ 450e doesn’t follow in its stablemate’s footsteps.