One of the strange quirks of car buying in Ireland in recent times has been the fact that while battery electric vehicles have exploded in popularity, the country’s favourite carmaker, Toyota, has not had an all-electric vehicle on offer. That changed late last year with the introduction of the Toyota bZ4X.
Previously Toyota has been very much in the self charge hybrid camp and been very successful at it. However, with growing regulative pressure to move away from any kind of petrol power, the Japanese car maker has introduced it’s “Beyond zero” concept, to create a line-up of vehicles that can offer zero emission motoring. Interestingly, Toyota does not just see this as being purely battery power, but also embracing hydrogen and other possible alternatives.
The bZ4X is the first step down this road. The bZ in the name stands for beyond zero and the 4X denotes the size category of the car. It is in fact a joint development with Subaru who will brand its version the Solterra.
Because it is Toyota’s first pure electric vehicle, the bZ4X has been greatly anticipated and because it is a Toyota SUV, sales are also expected to be very healthy. So is the bZ4X worth the wait and what does it offer over and above the competition.
- Running Costs
- Safety - Maximum 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP
- Fitted with the latest tech and stunning interior.
- From 0-100km/h in just 7.5 seconds
- Though aesthetically pleasing, not as eye-catching as the Kia EV6
Since the 1970’s when Ireland became one of the first countries in Europe to truly embrace Toyota as a mainstream manufacturer, functionality and practicality have been the hallmarks of Toyota design. It has been a formula that has worked very well, however, in more recent years with buyers having a wider choice of design styles, Toyota has attempted to up its game when it comes to exterior looks. The results have been a little mixed and you cannot help thinking that the designers have over compensated on certain models.
The bZ4X continues the sharp edge design theme, which has developed on more recent models. It is similar in appearance and size to the RAV4, but manages to look sleeker and more handsome, thanks to a neater rear. The design is not as eye catching as the Kia EV 6 or the Cupra Born, for example, but the shape overall is quite pleasing and there are some nice touches topped off by 18 or 20 inch alloy wheels.
The bZ4X continues the sharp edge design theme
Inside, the bZ4X manages to retain the normal levels of Toyota build quality and comfort, but with a distinctive modern look that makes it a little different to anything else Toyota has in the range. It is all very well put together and like most cars of this type, is dominated by a large touchscreen. This is eight inches to 12.3-inches depending on model. The system is definitely a step up from other Toyota models with a crisps display and fast touch response. You get used to using it very quickly, unlike some competitor systems which take quite some getting to grips with. Toyota has also included more tactile buttons and dials for climate control and you can also be preset the A/C via the Toyota App.
Space wise, both up front and in the back there is plenty of legroom and the headroom in the rear is also good. The boot is an adequate 452 litres in capacity, a little less than some similar models, but with a well thought out design. The bZ4X also lacks any under bonnet storage, but it is a large car and you would have to be especially well loaded to run out of space.
Toyota tends to do interiors well and the bZ4X is no exception. It also perhaps gives a glimpse of how interior design will look on other Toyota models of the future.
Toyota tends to do interiors well and the bZ4X is no exception
All models in the bZ4X range have a 74.1kWh battery and the variation in performance comes from whether you opt for a single or dual motor set-up and two or four wheel drive, although at present these options are restricted.
The Sport model has a single motor, front-wheel drive option. This produces a respectable 204hp and will take you from 0-100km/h in just 7.5 seconds, although the Sport name is a little misleading as it is more comfort focused. Toyota says this configuration offers a 510km range, although the level of equipment may reduce this. A dual motor all-wheel drive option has a little more power at 218hp, but the trade off is a reduced range of 460km. Again here, the higher the model spec and equipment options, the more the range drops. At present it seems that only the Sport option can be ordered, with other variants expected later.
Toyota tends to be more realistic than some manufacturers with its range data and indeed even the range indicators hold a little in reserve. The model also features a regenerative braking system that captures energy as the vehicle slows and also allows you to effectively drive with one foot most of the time. The emphasis of the bZ4X is definitely on range and efficiency, but although performance may be a long way from sporty, it will be enough to satisfy most buyers.
Toyota says that with a 150kW DC fast charger, in optimal conditions, the bZ4X will go from 10% state of charge to 80% in 45 minutes. A 7kW home charger will take around 10 hours.
Toyota tends to be more realistic than some manufacturers with its range data and indeed even the range indicators hold a little in reserve.
As a recent introduction, it is too early for any meaningful reliability data, although teething problems, that have affected certain new EV models, appear to be very rare. Toyota, as a brand, is well known for its reliability and has maintained a fairly comprehensive service network.
The company obviously has confidence in the bZ4X battery as it is offering an extended care warranty that guarantees the battery will operate to 70% of its original capacity after up to 10 years of ownership, or 1 million kms, provided the car goes to an authorised dealer for an annual EV health check.
Toyota, as a brand, is well known for its reliability and has maintained a fairly comprehensive service network.
With a solid range and reasonably fast charging, the bZ4X is an economical car to run, and, drivers who it suits, will appreciate the fuel savings over hybrid alternatives.
The all electric set-up should also mean long term savings on maintenance costs. Insurance on the car is quite high, considering it lacks the blistering performance of some EV models, however, on the plus side the car is likely to do well when it comes to maintaining its value.
The all electric set-up should also mean long term savings on maintenance costs
Safe, secure and comfortable are perhaps the words best used to describe the way the bZ4X handles and it has to be said that, if this indeed was the objective, Toyota has done a very good job. The car feels ultra stable on the road, but does this without making the ride stiff and uncomfortable. The weight distribution keeps it steady when cornering and the steering is heavy enough to provide very good feedback and feel.
The bZ4X is ultra smooth, quiet and refined on motorways and even at lower speeds it manages to iron out most of the bumps. It all comes together to offer a sophisticated drive and with a waterproof battery pack and 177mm ground clearance, even a hint of off road capability, which could be useful for floods and snow.
Safe, secure and comfortable
As you would probably expect from a Toyota SUV, the bZ4X, has received the maximum 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
This means it offers some of the best protection on the road. It also features plenty of accident avoidance as standard, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control, with many more safety and driver assistance options available.
The Toyota SUV, the bZ4X, has received the maximum 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
- Running Costs
Starting at €48,575, including grant, the bZ4X represents pretty good value for money considering the level of equipment and the quality of the finish of the car. It might not be as dynamic as some of the EV SUV options on offer, but as a Toyota you can be reassured that this is a solid well built and practical car. Its styling, drive and current lack of variety might not be to everyone’s taste, but as the first all-electric Toyota, it is a pretty good start and is likely to tempt many from the hybrid to the battery electric camp.