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Lexus' latest electric car borrows a controversial feature from Tesla

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Toyota-owned luxury automaker Lexus has lifted the lid on its latest electric car – and it takes a very particular design cue from the Tesla Model S Plaid.

While boasting some admittedly impressive performance credentials (which we'll detail below), the Lexus RZ 450e also offers the most maligned of interior features: a steering yolk. 

Criticized for their lack of circular grip and tricky manoeuvrability in low speed urban driving environments, steering yokes are more commonly found in aircraft – though it is, at least, only an optional extra in the RZ 450e.

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Angled, close-up of yoke steering wheel in the Lexus RZ 450e

(Image credit: Lexus)
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Close-up of yoke steering wheel in the Lexus RZ 450e

(Image credit: Lexus)
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Side view of the yoke steering wheel from the open driver's door

(Image credit: Lexus)
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Driver's view of the yoke steering wheel and large central display in the Close-up of yoke steering wheel in the Lexus RZ 450e

(Image credit: Lexus)
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Full width view of the dash inside the Close-up of yoke steering wheel in the Lexus RZ 450e

The steering yoke is only an option though... (Image credit: Lexus)
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Traditional steering wheel in the Lexus RZ 450e

...a regular steering wheel comes as standard (Image credit: Lexus)

Wheel grips aside, however, and Lexus' latest electrical offering is an imposing beast. Sure, it looks fairly similar to many of the brand’s combustion engine offerings – as well as its closely-related Subaru sibling, the Solterra – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

The RZ 450e is sleek, aggressive-looking and still distinct enough to stand alongside its German-made electric counterparts (it puts the monstrous BMW XM to shame, at least).

Under the hood – or rather, in the floor of the car itself – drivers will get a 71.4kWh lithium ion battery (the same as used in the Toyota bZ4X) providing, Lexus says, more than 250 miles of range. The company hasn't shared the EV's charging speeds just yet, though we'd expect the RZ 450e to come equipped, like its Japanese siblings, with 150kW charging capabilities.

Lexus' latest will also launch with the brand's 'Direct4' four-wheel-drive powertrain, offering drivers two electric motors providing a combined 308bhp and 321lb ft of torque. 

Those performance credentials, the company says, will see the RZ 450e capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds – which is faster than the Audi Q4 E-tron 50 Quattro.

Angled view from the rear of the Lexus RZ 450e

(Image credit: Lexus)

Inside the cabin, the RZ 450e packs all of the technological trimmings we've come to expect from high-end EVs of late, including a slick 14-inch touchscreen. 

Features like a dimmable panoramic roof and radiant heaters will also come as standard, while the car is equipped with Lexus' Safe Exit Assist system, which prevents doors from opening into the path of vehicles and cyclists approaching from the rear. 

There's been no word on the launch price of the Lexus RZ 450e just yet, but we'd wager a figure in excess of $80,000 / £60,000 / AU$110,000, given the price of its combustion engine predecessor, the Lexus RX.

That's not small change, by any means, but the RZ 450e will still inevitably undercut the price of premium electric offerings from the likes of Tesla, Mercedes and BMW. On paper, then, it's definitely worth considering – just don't opt for the steering yolk.

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