Toyota bZ4X Motion AWD
It looks sleek and futuristic and is fun to drive, so the new Toyota might just be the perfect town-and-country option, says Ed Coles
Toyota bZ4X Motion AWD
Price as reviewed: £49,510
Toyota has led the way with electric vehicles for 25 years and it’s come a long way since the launch of the Prius in 1997. The Japanese manufacturer has since expanded its electric range and its latest offering is a dip into the SUV market, the all-electric bZ4X AWD. The bZ4X is available in three trim levels — Pure, Motion and Vision — and is available in two- or four-wheel drive. We’re trying the middle-spec Motion AWD which, on paper, could be the perfect blend of a town-and-country SUV.
Toyota bZ4X Motion AWD in depth
The first word that comes to mind is sleek. The verdict’s not in yet on the plastic arch trims, but the overall silhouette grabs the attention. From a certain angle, it reminds me of a mini Aston Martin DBX.
While sleek, there are some bold angles. The modern theme of bumpers getting bigger and lights getting smaller is incorporated front and rear on the bZ4X but, despite the size, they will melt your eyeballs. The back is sleek yet futuristic, finished off with equally futuristic LEDs. I like the blue paintwork and the contrast with silver 18in alloys looks smart.
Underneath is as I suspected. Other than plastic undertrays, there’s not a lot to see, except the 177mm of ground clearance. We can see a bit of the front running gear, with MacPherson struts and fancy regenerative brakes. At the back there’s a bit more to take in, such as the independent suspension and a fair bit of the rear AWD set-up. The driveshafts look petite but Toyota has a good 4×4 reputation. Alas, there’s no towbar but with a 750kg towing weight it may struggle to pull my beaters, let alone their horsebox.
Opening the bonnet, we can see a reasonable amount of Toyota’s electric power unit. It’s an AC permanent magnetic synchronous motor that produces 107bhp, but that’s only half the story. At the back is an identical motor providing drive to the rear wheels, giving the bZ4X a combined maximum power of 215bhp and 337Nm of torque. With a 0–62mph of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 100mph, the bZ4X should be relatively spirited.
The boot is of a reasonable size, although tall dogs may struggle. There’s plenty of room though for kit or shopping. I managed to fit six bags of wheat, or a cocker spaniel-sized dog. The gun slip squeezes in on an angle but my rifle sticks are destined for the back seat. (Read our guide to travelling with a gun.)
Inside, the bZ4X is comfortable and stylish with an understated, almost minimalist, interior. The part-leather heated seats are comfortable and there’s a good amount of room front and back. The sleek black dash with central 12.3in touchscreen looks high-end and has all the latest gadgets, entertainment, connectivity and wireless mobile charging. Driver safety aids include a 360-degree panoramic view monitor and a monitoring camera to keep an eye on you on long journeys.
Reversing out of my potholed driveway, the bZ4X handles the craters quite well, with only a mild bit of rocking from the child seat and no bottoming out noises from the suspension. As I pull out on to the back road, the Toyota soon catapults us down the uneven lane. It handles the ripples in the road well and the handling feels positive through the twisty bits. It’s a comfortably smooth ride and I think Toyota could get away with stiffening the suspension up a little.
On the open road, the drive is smooth and constant if you’re gentle — or if you’re not feeling gentle, it’s quite a lot of fun. Being heavy-footed does impact on the range and the regenerative brakes take their time putting charge back in. The drive is pretty instantaneous and continuous up to its top speed. X-mode has three settings; snow/mud, deep snow/mud (up to 13mph) and grip control for tougher off-piste shenanigans (up to 6mph).
The gravel track up to the wood is child’s play for the bZ4X and the transition from gravel to rutted grass is relatively smooth. As the vehicle straddles the ruts through the wood, the electric all-wheel drive performs well, despite the road-going tyres. It would be nice if Toyota added some raisable suspension to the X-mode settings, but to be fair the 177mm we have got has done well so far.
Feeders topped up, it’s off to the wood. The bZ4X is quite nimble through the narrow twisting avenue up to the wet wood and handles the large potholes with relative ease for an SUV. Traction through the wet woodland is good and, despite my best efforts, the X-mode witchcraft keeps us on the straight and narrow with a mild bit of initial sliding. The next set of bumps test the full travel of the suspension but I can’t see any broken plastic in the rearview mirror so we’ll call that a pass.
I like the stealthiness of the electric motors through the wood but that calm is broken by a slightly overzealous door alarm.
The bZ4X is a versatile SUV that performs well on and off-road. It’s comfortable, with an understated, high-end feel. It could do with a bit more ground clearance but overall it’s pretty impressive off-road. If you’re buying one, I would recommend getting the fast charging plumbed in. I found the AC charging a bit long-winded and frustrating. Toyota claims 9.5 hours for a full charge, but the best I managed was 80 miles charge in eight hours. With a range of 286 miles it’s eco-credentials look good, but you do have to drive it sedately to achieve that. That said, it is fun to drive and definitely capable of a day in the field.
The bX4X starts at £45,710 for the base Pure model. Our slightly fancier Motion model starts at £49,510, which is a lot of money, but the bZ4X is a lot of car and tech and only let down by the charging.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Toyota
- Model bZ4X AWD
- Power Front motor 107bhp Rear motor 107bhp Max power 215bhp Maximum torque 337Nm
- Top speed 100mph 0-62mph 6.9 seconds
- Range 286 miles
- Battery Type Lithium Ion Nominal voltage 355 Capacity 71.4 kWh No of cells 96
- Ground clearance 177mm
- Towing weight 750kg