- Smooth driving performance with ample power on tap
- Spacious cabin with lots of passenger and storge room
- Competitively price and impressive driving range
- Some rivals are more dynamic to drive
- No glovebox
- Crazy name
The ‘bZ’ is something we are going to have to get accustomed to and pretty quickly as it's Toyota's sub brand for Beyond Zero - the Japanese company's new range of battery-powered vehicles. The ‘4’ stands for mid-size and the ‘X’ in this case is for crossover SUV and so we get bZ4X. Not snappy, but it sort of makes sense. However, we'll see if the public likes it - after all remember when the Kia Ceed and ProCeed featured upper and lower-case letters, apostrophes and underscores? Not anymore. The bZ4X is available in a range of trim levels called pure, Motion and Vision, plus a special launch Premier Edition, And customers can select from front or all-wheel drive.
On The Road
The bZ4X looks dynamic in its design and the performance matches the styling. The acceleration is sharp out the blocks without pinning you to the back of the seat and there is a constant stream of power on tap for sharp bursts of pace to overtake. It's a car that effortlessly eats away at motorway miles, but can put in a shift when faced with twisting B roads. And with great all-round driver visibility and lots of parking aids, city centre driving is a breeze too. Front-wheel drive models feature a single 150kW front-mounted eAxle that produces 201bhp and 266Nm of torque. They can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and max out at a limit 100mph. The AWD car uses front and rear 80kW eAxles with a combined output of 215bhp and 337Nm of torque. The 0-62mph sprint time drops to 6.9 seconds while the top speed stays at 100mph. This version also gains X-MODE off-road settings for confident driving in more testing conditions. We opted for the range-topping Premiere Edition with AWD for a lengthy test drive and some off-road exercises. The bZ4X is a very easy car to drive and there are driving modes called Eco and Normal that alter the handling and responses very slightly. Regenerative braking captures energy that would otherwise be lost and this, in turn, helps boost the battery level. Possibly the most important statistic though is the driving range between charges. FWD cars can achieve 317 miles and the AWD models 286 miles. These figures would drop quite considerably if the air-con system was on constantly and driving styles also impact upon the range.
With the battery positioned beneath the vehicle's floor to form part of the chassis, the bZ4X has a strong, rigid framework along with a low center of gravity. And that's results in a beautifully balanced ride with excellent grip through tight bends. The cabin is noticeably refined with barely a sound filtering through even at higher speeds - this is as a result of high-quality insulation plus the use of thicker glass in the side windows. Increasing the gap between the side mirrors and front three-quarters panels has resulted in a reduction of wind noise too.
and despite riding high on 20-inch wheels, the car showed no sign of body sway no matter how hard it was pushed into corners. The highly-effective suspension system smooths out any bumpy road surfaces, and the rack and pinion electric power steering adjusts the level of assistance depending on the speed of the car, In 2023, Toyota will be introducing a new steer-by-wire system to the mix. We were testing the bZ4X with AWD - a system that was developed with Subaru - and we had the opportunity to see how well it coped with steep hill climbs, dramatic ascents, plus clambering over obstacles and wading through water. with the X-MODE drive setting in operation, it breezed through every challenge and that means this car is equipped with the technology to venture off road with confidence if needed.
The bZ4X is the first model to use the eTNGA platform and this will be the template for the company's future BEVs. The battery is integrated into the chassis beneath the floor and the architecture has been designed so models offer excellent passenger and storage space. It can also be adapted for use across a huge variety of vehicle types and sizes. When it comes to design, the bZ4X certainly has a strong road presence with its larger-than-life front end featuring a new brand-defining ‘hammerhead’ shape with signature slim LED headlights and daytime running lights. It really makes a statement but may be considered a little too bold for some customers. Eye-catching features include LED fog lights and LED rear lights, a panoramic roof, rear privacy glass, a satin plated lower grille, shark fin antenna and 20-inch alloys. Moving inside the high end model boasts black synthetic leather upholstery, a slim and low-set instrument panel, a dial control instead of a conventional shift lever, lots of piano black surfaces, a neat woven texture covering on the dashboard, a three-spoke steering wheel, along with ambient lighting. It's worth noting that other markets are getting the bZ4X with solar roof panels to add extra battery charge, but this is not available on UK models, but they do come with an optional sunroof.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With the power-adjustable driver's seat and manually adjustable steering wheel, it doesn't take long to find the perfect driving position inside the bZ4X and there are memory settings to store those positions for different drivers. Thanks to the elevated seating, the all-round visibility is excellent and the car has a wealth of technology to explore without being too cluttered. The nerve centre is the 12.3-inch Toyota Smart Connect multimedia display (pure models feature an eight-inch multimedia set-up). Our high-end Premiere Edition also gained an upgraded eight-speaker JBL premium sound system and there is full navigation, voice assistant, Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Andriod Auto (wired) smartphone connectivity, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, a wireless smartphone charger, three USB connections plus a seven-inch colour TFT driver display that can be configured according to preference. The latest multi-media system delivers cloud-based navigation so the car is always connected on the move and software updates will be carried out automatically over-the-air. There are heated and cooled seats up front with a heated steering wheel and back seat passengers also benefit from heated outer rear seats. A MyT smartphone app allows you to find suitable charging points and make automatic payments, find where the car is parked with navigational details, share to car so planned journeys can be transferred to the vehicle's sat nav, view various driving analytics, along with battery charge levels, service reminders and a number of other functions.
Space & Practicality
So many family SUVs are far too cramped from back seat passengers, but that's certainly not the case in the spacious bZ4X. Even with the front seats pushed well back there is ample leg room and three adults could fit in without too much of a squeeze. The car stretches 4,690mm in length, is 1,860mm wide (excluding the mirrors) and 1,600mm high. The wheelbase is 2,640mm and it has a kerb weight of 1,910-1,970kg for the front-wheel drive version and 2,000-2,060kg for all-wheel drive models. Both have a towing limit of 750kg. Throughout the cabin, there are plenty of convenient storage options, including a huge space beneath the centre console, front and rear cup holders, practical door bins with two separate bottle holders, a charging pad with slightly transparent cover and seat back pocket. Rather unusually, there is no glovebox. We were informed by a chief designer that the space beneath the console more than mode up for the lack of glovebox with room for 20 liters of kit, but I'm not wholly convinced. The boot was power operated on our test car and featured a double floor. The storage capacity is 452 litres and this can be increased further by dropping the 60:40 split-folding rear seats. Unlike some pure EVs there is no frunk (front trunk) offering extra shortage. Charging the bZ4X can be completed via a 150kW fast charger with an 80 per cent boost in just 30 minutes. A full charge using a 230V/32A supply will take about 9.5 hours. By the end of this year, an 11kW three-phase on-board charger will replace the initial 6.6kW unit.
The Toyota bZ4X is priced from £41,950 for the entry-level Pure model and rises to £51,550 for the range-topping Premiere Edition which is available exclusively online. Although we were driving a Belgium-plated version it was very close to the Premiere Edition model. Toyota appreciates that switching to a battery electric vehicle is a big step for some customers so is offering some attractive leasing options that cover all aspects of the vehicle use the monthly payments that also cover maintenance, roadside assistant, accessories, access to charging networks and even bespoke insurance if required. Private customers can lease the bZ4X Motion from £611 per month with a Personal Contract Hire (PCH) offer. This 36-month contract would have an initial charge of £3,662. For those who prefer to own their car, there is a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) offer for the bZ4X Motion. Once again this is based on a 36-month contract with a deposit of £3,662 followed by monthly payments of £699. Business customers can sign up to a Business Contract Hire (BCH) scheme whereby the bZ4X Motion costs £509, plus VAT, over 36 months with an initial down payment of £3,052 plus VAT. These offers are available until end of June, 2022, but there will be other deals to follow. The zero g/km carbon emissions figure would mean no road tax for the first year and a Benefit in Kind rating for business owners of just two per cent. Insurance ratings for the car are yet to be confirmed.
Quality & Reliability
Toyota has an enviable reputation throughout the industry for developing vehicles that offer year after year of trouble-free motoring and the brand frequently ranks highly in customer satisfaction surveys. Toyota has drawn upon all its years of perfecting electrified vehicle technology and also teamed up with the Subaru as its development partner for the bZ4X benefiting from its expertise in all-wheel drive engineering. The battery pack is positioned low down in the chassis and has an aluminum cover to protect it from any damage that would be caused when driving over rough surfaces or through water obstacles. The voltage, current and temperature of the battery cells are monitored and if any abnormal heat generation is detected, controls are automatically triggered to mitigate any issues. All the materials and switchgear throughout the cabin are well constructed and the car has a sturdy feel to it with neat packaging. Toyota offers some interesting warranty packages on top of its standard three-year, 60,000-mile policy. For example, there is a battery warranty that extends to eight years or 100,000 miles and this can be extended via the EV Care Battery Health Check. This is a free extension of the warranty provided the car is serviced regularly at authorised Toyota centres. In addition, just like other Toyotas on sale at the moment, there is the Toyota Relax programme, This also requires vehicles are serviced at an authorised Toyota centre and they gain an extra year and 10,000 miles cover up to a limit of 10 years or 100,000 miles. All new bZ4X customers get three years of AA roadside assistance in the UK across 44 European countries, a British Gas Centrica EV Home Charger with standard installation and six months access to the Toyota Public Charging Network - this set-up has more than 12,000 charging points accessible through the MyT app.
Safety & Security
While the bZ4X is yet to be tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, the car is very well equipped with safety systems and driver assistance aids to help protect occupants and other road users. All trims get the impressive Toyota T-Mate which is the term given to the wide-ranging systems that help safeguard against accidents, provide protection in the event of an impact and assist the driver when it comes to making manoeuvres whether driving in motorway traffic or parking the car in a busy city street. It also includes the latest generation of Toyota Safety Sense which offers a number of preventative systems including a comprehensive pre-collision system with intersection turn assist and emergency steering assist. All medels get intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist, lane departure alert, road sign assist with speed limiter, emergency driving stop system, automatic high beam or automatic high beam system, a full suite of airbags, hill start assist, eCall, downhill assist control and lots more besides. Blind spot monitor and safe exit assist are standard on all vehicles apart from entry-level Pure grades. To protect the vehicle against thieves, there is an intruder alarm with tilt and brake sensors, plus an engine immobiliser.
The Toyota bZ4X is a very impressive first BEV from Toyota and that comes as little surprise considering the company’s decades of hybrid know-how. Its design may be greeted with mixed opinions, but it drives beautifully, is packed with tech and is a very spacious family SUV that can confidently venture off road.