The Toyota bZ4X sounds like a captcha code but looks like a decent EV | Top Gear
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The Toyota bZ4X sounds like a captcha code but looks like a decent EV

Toyota's late to the plug-in SUV party, but can Subaru-developed AWD and 280 miles of range help it stand out?

Published: 29 Oct 2021
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We think we know what happened here. The team tasked with naming Toyota’s new electric car – it’s first production electric car, believe it or not – caved under the pressure. They procrastinated, played Solitaire, went online shopping… and then involuntarily blurted out the online captcha code staring them in the face at 5pm when the boss came in and demanded to hear the fruits of their day’s labour.

It’s the only explanation we can summon for the Toyota bZ4X. The forerunner to the Toyota Click All The Boxes Showing Traffic Lights, possibly.

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The car itself is right on the money, though. Little changed from its preview concept, it’s a fully electric SUV that’ll be sold in front- and all-wheel-drive guise. The former will mop up urban duties nicely – 201bhp, 195lb ft, 0-62mph in 8.4secs and the potential for 280 miles of range.

The latter has been co-developed with Subaru and has proper off-road gumption. An 80kW motor operates at each axle and power shifts according to surface with snow, mud and proper crawler modes. It boasts 214bhp and 248lb ft peaks while slicing the 0-62mph time to 7.7secs. Both versions top out at 100mph.

Wondering why it’s taken Toyota – the pioneer of electrification in mainstream cars thanks to several decades of hybrids – so long to make a pure EV? Well, it just wanted to bide its time and get things bang on.

“Toyota has brought to bear almost 25 years’ experience in high-capacity battery development to ensure that not only does the bZ4X offer peace of mind in terms of the distance it can cover, but also reassurance that this capability can be maintained year after year,” we’re told. The 71kWh battery will apparently suffer 10 per cent of degradation in 10 years or 150,000 miles of use. There’s 150kW fast-charging on offer, which can top you up to 80 per cent in half an hour.

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Naturally there’s a whole heap of active safety tech, the steering is by wire rather than a physical connection, while the multimedia system is open to over-the-air updates.

Size wise, you’re looking at something roughly equivalent to Toyota’s own RAV4, only with shorter overhangs and a longer wheelbase for better handling and space. The boot is decent, too, at 452 litres with the back seats still in place. Strong for an EV. The looks are RAV4-esque too, only with a whiff of ‘base level Nineties hatchback’ to its rubberised details that we really quite dig.

But do you dig the bZ4X? Or have the Kona Electric, e-2008, MX-30 and their abundant rivals all stolen a march thanks to Toyota’s lateness to the part?

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