Car reviews - Toyota - BZ4X
Quiet ride, responsive powertrain, quality of fit and finish, logical dashboard and console layout, comfortable driving position, roomy cabin
Room for improvement
Price will likely be up there, arrival date trails global markets, quality issues noted in other regions may affect buyer sentiment
A few laps of Toyota’s Aussie Autodrome gives us our first taste of the new bZ4X
9 Feb 2023
By MATT BROGAN
TOYOTA is just about ready to introduce its first battery electric vehicle (BEV) Down Under, the RAV4-sized bZ4X – a model co-developed with the Subaru Solterra – almost ready to take on the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Tesla Model Y.
It will be the first of seven models the Big T plans to release under its Beyond Zero (bZ) sub-brand and the first to be developed on its modular battery-electric vehicle architecture dubbed e-TNGA. Toyota said previously that it plans to launch no fewer than 15 all-electric models globally by 2025.
The bZ4X is set to be offered in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations promising a driving range of 460km and 500km respectively according to the Japanese WLTC test cycle.
Fast charging (150kW DC) provides up to 80 per cent battery capacity in approximately 30 minutes while the on-board charger (6.6kW AC) will likely provide overnight recharging from a domestic outlet. Vehicle to load (V2L) capabilities are also offered, allowing the model to power external devices.
Single-motor front-wheel drive variants output 150kW/265Nm and are powered by a 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery. Acceleration to 100km/h is said to take 8.4 seconds while top speed is listed at 160km/h. Dual-motor all-wheel drive models offer combined output of 160kW/336Nm and hit triple digits in 7.7 seconds, but retain the two-wheel drive model’s 160km/h v-max.
The Toyota bZ4X measures 4690mm in length, is 1860mm wide, 1650mm high, and rides on a 2850mm wheelbase. The proportions are said to give the all-electric SUV similar cabin space to the Camry sedan, and as much as 452 litres of cargo space (in five-seat mode and to window height).
The modern interior – replete with optional yoke-style steering wheel and steer-by-wire technology – incorporates a large 12.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and satellite navigation.
A smaller 7.0-inch dashboard display offers further driver-oriented details including speed, charging status, remaining range, and driving mode information.
Recalling Toyota’s history as a loom manufacturer, the woven upholstery provides what the brand says is the “ambience of a living room, while the optional panoramic solar sunroof can contribute enough charge to provide up to 1800km of driving range to the bZ4X each year”.
The bZ4X features LED lighting front and rear and rides on alloy wheels ranging in size to 20 inches in diameter. The model also incorporates the complete range of Toyota Safety Suite driver assistance and safety technologies including radar and camera-based alert and recognition systems and remote parking technology.
For more information about the Toyota bZ4X, including specification and pricing, click here.
The bZ4X is an attractive vehicle, at least to our eyes, and one that based on looks alone should sell its socks off. Of course, looks aren’t everything, but the good news is – at least from our very brief stint at the wheel – that the bZ4X seems to drive well too, which should see it able to take the fight to some of the stalwart EVs already available.
That said, you need to remember that the bZ4X is a little late to market here... It’s already been on sale overseas for some time; long enough, in fact, to be the subject of a recall that addressed issues of the wheels literally falling off the car. Toyota said the issue is now resolved, and promises we’ll get the latest specification Down Under as a result.
Our handful of laps of the Toyota Australia Autodrome – a small test circuit at the company’s former Altona plant in Victoria, allowed us to sample the model on a well-constructed sealed road and at speeds up to 100km/h. From that short experience, we can say the car felt very good indeed.
Acceleration is brisk and fuss free, and expectedly hushed, the quiet ride an impressive characteristic even at freeway speeds. The ride feels sorted enough, and the handling competent, though we hasten to add that there were very few challenges on the test loop to really push the limits of the e-TNGA chassis.
We found the controls (pedals, steering, one-pedal mode etc.) well metered and progressive, offering excellent control over the vehicle through bends, while body control felt suitably sporty, without being overly harsh or brittle in the way many EVs are.
However, a few troughs on the furthermost section of the Toyota test track did highlight the bZ4X’s weight, and we’ll be interested to see if this is an issue once driven in the real world.
Still, the handful of laps did show that the bZ4X is well laid out and entirely logical in terms of its HMI. We love that hard buttons remain for most-used controls, and that the use of both the dashboard and centre console work neatly to provide a sensible interface that doesn’t require a mud-map of screen menus to operate.
The cab feels roomy, airy even, with plenty of room up back for lanky teens and over-stuffed backpacks, the 452-litre boot a spacious offering that should fulfil school-run duties very well. We found the bZ4X easy to see out of, even to the rear, which makes a nice change over some of the ‘coupe SUV’ rivals now entering the market.
We sampled a high-grade UK-sourced vehicle at Toyota HQ and noted a list price of £51,550 – which directly converted equates to $89,800. Yikes. Hopefully the EV ‘Yota will be a little more reasonable when it arrives Down Under – and hopefully we’ll get a longer drive before it turns up.
Still, the chance to experience the bZ4X was a welcomed one, and if our short crack is anything to go by, then this is a car with a lot of promise. We look forward to seeing just how the model will be priced, and how it stacks up on our infamously crappy local roads.
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