The Toyota bZ4X is an exceptionally good fully electric car with impressive performance
Car Reviewed: Toyota bZ4X
The bZ bit signifies the company’s ‘beyond zero’ aim at zero build and drive emissions. The X in our test model signifies four-wheel-drive — the car is also available as a front-wheel-drive only.
The bZ4X shows a radical design direction for Toyota featuring a sleek and futuristic exterior with sharp lines and an aggressive stance, the interior is spacious and minimalist with a focus on sustainability. The bZ4X’s design embodies Toyota’s commitment to creating EVs that are both functional and stylish, while also pushing the boundaries of what is possible with electric powertrains.
The two motors total 160kW, giving the car very brisk performance when required; one of the pleasures of driving electric vehicles is their massive ability to produce overtaking acceleration. 0 to 62mph in 6.9 seconds is only half the story.
Toyota tells us that the ‘architecture’ of the bZ4X, with the motors low down, acting as chassis components, gives excellent handling and generous cabin space; I can’t argue with either.
The boot is usefully versatile, with the floor able to be raised/lowered, plus the usual 60/40 rear seat folding.
Included in what I found to be one of the more attractive SUV stylings is the split rear roof spoiler. Although there was no wet weather during our week with the car, the fact that there is no rear window wiper assumes that the airflow created obviates the need for one.
Meanwhile, the electric learning curve continues. Any owner who does not have their own home wall charger might have similar experiences as I had with Toyota’s bZ4X.
The car itself is very good…yes; driving it is very easy…yes. The brakes are excellent. Its high and comfortable seating position allows a good view all round and there is a plethora of warning signals on tap if you are getting too close to anything at all near the car.
It’s quite a sizeable and heavy car, but, except in one-pedal mode, it feels pretty athletic; in one-pedal mode, there is a typical light drag feeling.
The weather was particularly cold during our week with the car, with very frosty starts each morning. The windscreen de-frosting worked brilliantly so that minimal scraping was necessary.
However, on one occasion, when the remaining driving range was displayed at 100 miles, putting the heater fan on immediately reduced the range to 77. Another day, after re-charging, the display similarly reduced, this time from 210 miles to 150! Experienced EV owners know that winter conditions requiring heating and so on certainly have a significant adverse effect on the car’s range. So I drove most of the time with extra layers of clothing and gloves to save money and the stress of range anxiety. Fortunately, using the heated seat had no effect on the range.
Eventually, I threw caution to the winds and put the heating on and it took only two miles to be up to temperature.
Nonetheless, later on that journey, the car indicated that, although I had actually done sixty miles, the range displayed remained more optimistic.
Public re-charging? After waiting an hour in a queue at my local Instavolt charge point, I found that I’d upset the system by plugging the car in before presenting my debit card, although the card was apparently accepted. This a) prevented any charge from taking place and b) locked the charger into the car. Luckily, the emergency phone worked and I was advised to lock/unlock the bZ4X seven times. This worked and I could release the charger cable and start again in the correct order.
Cutting a long story short, the very next day at the same Instavolt, I either locked out, in spite of my card being accepted, or possibly hadn’t engaged properly into the car’s socket. This time (said the man on the phone), it was lock/unlock three times (not seven, mysteriously) and hey presto!
As to consumption, overall, I averaged 3.5 kWh. At the time of this review, mile-for-mile, there is little difference in the costs of re-fuelling a petrol car and public charging an EV.
The 160kW Motion version test car costs £52,510. Overall, I would rate the bZ4X as a strong competitor in its field.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.