In-depth analysis of the new Toyota bZ4X, the first electric model of the Japanese brand

The first all-electric Toyota model, which arrives in Spain, is called bZ4X.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 September 2023 Sunday 17:23
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In-depth analysis of the new Toyota bZ4X, the first electric model of the Japanese brand

The first all-electric Toyota model, which arrives in Spain, is called bZ4X. It is a joint development with Subaru and has a somewhat strange name. It directly inherits the name of the 2021 prototype, bZ4X, which is the result of the fusion of several words or concepts. To begin with, bZ (Beyond Zero) is Toyota's new sub-brand to identify 100% electric, zero-emission models.

The name also includes a 4 and another letter, the X. The number represents the size or category of the car. In this case, 4 is assigned to medium-sized vehicles. The bZ4X, with 4.69 meters in length, falls between compact and large SUVs. Finally, the X refers to the SUV status and the possibility of incorporating all-wheel drive.

A lot of marketing work that in my opinion could have been saved and opted for a more conventional - and successful - name as Subaru has done with the Solterra. Sun and earth. Easy, right?

This new five-door SUV is built on a new global platform for electric cars that will be used for many other developments, such as the aforementioned Subaru.

Regarding the design, in this case, Toyota has chosen to completely distance itself from what it has been offering us until now. That is to say, the bZ4X is a point and apart. So much so that during an urban tour we have been asked several times what Toyota it was.

The front is closed, without a grill at the top, since there is nothing to cool, although an air inlet is included in the lower part, as if it were a mouth. The hood is also quite original, large and reaching to the side wings and the wheel arch.

The rear part also has its daring point, with stylized headlights united by a light strip, which are continued in a black plastic piece that offsets the design. However, the most curious thing is the two pieces, like a cut spoiler, above the rear glass. We imagine that they fulfill a certain aerodynamic function.

The car also has very interesting dimensions, similar to a RAV4, with 4.69 meters in length and a generous wheelbase of 2.85 meters. And, the great advantage of having a trunk capacity of 452 liters.

Upon entering this new electric SUV, our attention is drawn to the large floating center console, a large central screen (12 inches) and the driving position, which at first appears original and novel, but with use ends up being impractical. And this deserves an explanation.

Similar to Peugeot's idea with its i-Cockpit, the round steering wheel is small in size. The instrumentation, we believe, is designed to be consulted above the steering wheel.

It happens, however, that the small instrumentation screen is far from the driver, being very close to the windshield, since, as we said, the instrumentation should be consulted above the steering wheel.

But, once behind the wheel, in a natural, comfortable and, above all, correct driving position (we have depth and height adjustment), the steering wheel covers the instrumentation. One solution is to lower the steering wheel, closer to the legs, but it is uncomfortable since when we get out of the car we touch it with our knees.

If you are 1.80 or taller, it is likely that adapting to the driving position will be easier, since you will be able to see the instrumentation above the steering wheel. In any case, it is unnatural.

The feeling of space of the two front seats is compromised by the design of the floating center console, which extends from the large touch screen. This floating center console has a large, open space underneath, replacing the conventional glove box that Toyota has eliminated.

Yes, the feeling and real space of the rear seats is very good. The generous wheelbase allows for ample legroom for occupants.

The trunk has 452 liters of capacity, with electric opening, and the possibility of placing the floor a little lower, as a double bottom. And a hole at the bottom for charging cables, emergency triangles and little else.

The battery has a capacity of 71.4 kWh and is guaranteed for 10 years. The electric motor, for its part, has 204 HP of power and Toyota establishes the range at 516 km, a distance that is difficult to achieve in normal driving conditions. About 100 km less, and more in summer, seems like a more realistic figure.

This version has a single electric motor and front-wheel drive. Therefore, it is lighter and more manageable around town than the all-wheel drive model.

It is a good option for a family car for interurban use, even with daily trips of 60, 70 or 80 km. Of course, as long as we can easily plug it in a couple of times a week.

As soon as you start, the car feels very quiet. It is also very well insulated, so the feeling of softness and silence is truly achieved. The aerodynamic work is notable, since the typical noise of the air in contact with the mirrors does not reach the interior either.

The engine has excellent response in any situation, with a linear and extremely pleasant power delivery. It is not as powerful as other electric rivals, which unceremoniously exceed 300 HP, but we do not think it is necessary either. And like a good electric car, acceleration is instant, certainly brilliant.

Without being sporty, it has a precise and noble behavior on any type of route, with a rigid suspension that prevents annoying swaying. The steering is very good, quite direct and precise, and makes driving on winding roads easier.

It has two driving modes, Normal and Eco, and the possibility of activating the “single pedal” mode to obtain greater energy regeneration when releasing the accelerator pedal. However, this mode retains less than other electric vehicles and in the city - very useful - it is necessary to brake to stop it.

Toyota explains that the bZ4X, on a fast charger, can be charged at up to 150 kW, and in approximately 30 minutes it can go from 0 to 80%. With the standard 11 kW charger, we can completely recharge the battery in just over 6 hours.

The Advance equipment includes Bi-LED headlights, heated seats, wireless smartphone charging and numerous driving assistance devices such as obstacle and pedestrian detection with emergency braking and the ability to detect vehicles traveling in the opposite direction.