Toyota bZ4x Review: The BEV that Toyota has been busy with
Think ‘hybrid’ and I bet one of the first car models that comes to mind will be the Toyota Prius. Well, no surprises here since it was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid, and for Toyota, this synonymity is definitely well deserved given the huge leaps in hybrid technology it made since its advent in the late 90s.
To date, the Prius has been an internationally recognised symbol and a badge proudly worn by superstars and regular joes alike, who want an endorsement for their green credentials and have the substance to back it up. However, BEVs have also come to occupy the limelight as the ultimate climate saviour, and this time, instead of being the first mover, it seems like Toyota has chosen to bide its time to perfect its EV craft before introducing the bZ4x.
Given the success and the technological know-how showcased from the development of its hybrids, it seems only natural for the bZ4x to follow suit.
First thing you might be wondering about is the inspiration for its name. Sure it does sound like a gadget launched in the 1980s, but Toyota has given its BEV series nomenclature some thought!
‘bz’ actually refers to beyond zero – Toyota’s sustainability movement which goes beyond zero emissions, 4 refers to the size of the car, where it is about the size of the Toyota RAV4 and ‘x’, tells us that this is a crossover! In no time, we should see multiple iterations of the ‘bz’ series of Toyota BEVs, but for now, the bZ4x will serve as the initiator of the series.
The bZ4x is based on a dedicated eTNGA platform, Toyota’s electric variant of its TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) modular platform range. Topped off with a rather futuristic and modern looking design that is bestowed upon most BEVs in the market today, the bZ4x looks like it comes straight out of a sci-fi movie.
With uniquely designed LEDs light clusters that outline its sharp edges, its design is almost a common refrain found amongst most BEVs on the market today. Thankfully, the design team at Toyota included some subtle elements that help set it apart. Its dual fin tail-like rear spoiler, blue-painted brake calipers and matte black side claddings allows it to look striking in its own way. I actually think there is a chance that the bZ4x will look quite fresh, even 10 years from now.
One could even go on to say that the bZ4x was certainly made with sunny Singapore in mind. The solar panels that cover its roof are poised to capture as much sunlight as possible (except during the rainy months of November and December of course!). It provides up to 1650 km of driving range annually, and it would definitely be interesting to put this to the test in the hotter months of May and June.
You sit rather high in the cabin of the bZ4x, which gives a commanding view of the road ahead. What’s interesting is that the steering wheel of the bZ4x has a smaller than expected radius, which gives a rather racy feel.
Most of the vehicles’ settings are controlled through the on-wheel buttons, and coupled with a futuristically laid out digital instrument cluster and dashboard, once at the helm of the bZ4x, you feel like you’re piloting a race car from the future.
For the front wheel drive version that we have on test, 0-100 comes in at 7.5 seconds. But on the road, it definitely feels more brisk than the numbers suggest. Its steering is direct and nicely weighted. There may not be a full one-pedal drive mode, but think of it as an enhanced regenerative braking feature and you’ll find that it is quite progressive and easy to get used to.
All being said, the bZ4x has been tuned for comfort and it rolls slightly through the bends. However, if you’re looking for a performance oriented BEV, there is a plethora of options out there.
Nevertheless, the bZ4x will feel extremely comfortable performing anything from big-boss chauffeuring duties to ferrying kids on the school run.
I can imagine passengers feeling extremely pleased, and relaxed after a long journey in the bZ4x. The UI on the infotainment system is crisp and easy to use, with useful features like the 360 degree parking camera – which makes for a genuinely stress-free experience.
Sound insulation is top notch owing to the use of thicker soundproofing glass and a specially designed front mirror and three-quarter panel to reduce wind noise. You sit against soft, plush leather seats (with the ivory colour helping to soften the mood within) in a spacious cabin, making a comparison with its luxurious sibling Lexus a bit hard to resist.
In the time we spent with the bZ4x, we managed to achieve an indicated range that was hovering between 350-400 km (from a full charge). 150kW DC fast charging is available, and standard AC charging has been rated at 6.6kW – which translates to approximately 9.5 hours for a full charge.
These figures fall within the range we would typically expect for a standard BEV-offering today, and given the tiny nature of our island nation, the bZ4x should exceed the practical needs of any future-owner of this Toyota.
Well that’s all we are waiting for I guess – what the future holds for us. As of the time of writing, Toyota has yet to officially confirm when the bZ4x will be available for sale here. Whilst only available for short-term lease in the upcoming Tengah eco town, it’ll nonetheless be exciting to be able to spot these running around our streets, once in a while.
Given the traits that makes the bZ4x such a usable and yet comfortable BEV, the team at OneShift is eagerly anticipating its launch, and the arrival of the 15 other zero-emission cars from the ‘bz’ range from Toyota by 2025. The future for Toyota certainly looks electrifying.
Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club