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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Lexus RZ Sport Concept headlines Tokyo Auto Show concept quintet

Lexus heads to this weekend’s 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon and Tokyo Outdoor Show with concepts aiming to show the brand balancing sporty, rough-and-tumble, and eco-conscious with trademark luxury. The keynote speaker is the RZ Sport Concept, Lexus’ new battery-electric crossover getting a heavy tune from racing driver and Lexus development engineer Masahiro Sasaki. That racing connection adds some context for the looks and an output nearly 100 horsepower greater than the RZ this is based on. The production RZ produces 308 horsepower from two motors powering the Direct4 all-wheel-drive system. The RZ Sport Concept gets 402 horses from its two motors.

Custom aero parts from front to back make the RZ’s intentions clear. There’s a custom front fascia with exposed carbon fiber surrounds for the intakes, plus a black hood showing two giant ducts. Wheel arch extensions and new rocker panels add 3.5 inches to the width, the body lowered 1.4 inches on a custom suspension over 21-inch Volk Racing wheels wrapped in 295/35 tires. And check out the WRC-worthy double-up carbon fiber rear wings hovering above the rear glass, helping add three inches of overall length compared to the production RZ. 

The Hakugin exterior is based on a white hue “that produces a delicate shining texture when illuminated.” The only detail we’re given about the interior is that there are four bucket seats. That seems bittersweet for occupants, traveling in such comfort over such a short distance. Lexus didn’t provide a range figure, but the mods and a quartet of tires wider than the 235/35 Michelins on the 395-hp Lexus RC F will cleave the production RZ’s 225-mile estimated range. Besides, anything this angry cannot help but burn through its candle quickly.  

The second highlight for the Auto Salon is the Lexus LX 600 Offroad Team JAOS 2022 that ran last year’s Baja 1000. The SUV has been part of a three-year competition project in unmodified stock classes, its continuing development primarily focused on safety technologies.

At the Tokyo Outdoor Show, Lexus is showing a trio of vehicles under the “Overtrail” banner, a mix of overland and trail. The ROV Concept 2 looks like the ROV Concept side-by-side Lexus showed in 2021, the only differences being a new paint job in a color called Regolith and a new set of wheels. That means there’s a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder hydrogen engine in back that powers the rear wheels, able to send power forward through two locking differentials and a two-speed transfer case, and airless wheels. The interior is wrapped in more luxury than you’d want to sacrifice to the kind of mud a UTV typically sprays, but it looks wonderful.

The ROV 2 appears with two new friends that bracket the poles of casual outdoor enjoyment and hardcore overlanding. The RX Outdoor Concept has the Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid as its heart, outfitted with a Feldon Shelter rooftop tent on a custom rack, aluminum skid plate and painted bumpers, LED lights, and trim pieces painted black and dark brown. It sits on a set of 18-inch Rays wheels shod in 265/60 all-terrain tires. That’s the shallow end. The GX Outdoor Concept hulks at the deep end; used, late-model versions of the production GX are quite popular for overland builds. This one is kitted out for heavy going with things like an Old Man Emu suspension, a Warn winch, Yakima rack and rooftop tent, CBI Offroad body armor, and a lustrous Terrain Khaki Mica Metallic paint job that will show off every California pinstripe, which are those long scratches along the body earned by navigating California underbrush. And based on the load bay, whoever chose the equipment likes to eat well on the trail, and protect gear and occupants. 

The Tokyo Auto Salon and Outdoor Show run from today until Sunday.

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