What’s the best electric vehicle for standing out?
Toyota’s new bZ4X is the firm’s first proper EV and its looks could be divisive…
We’ve mentioned this before, but there are broadly speaking two types of electric car. That is, cars that are powered by electricity, and cars that tell people they are powered by electricity. It’s a long established trope that initial EVs on the market had to be largely made up of the latter type because early adopters were going to be the ones driving them, and early adopters need to be able to tell everyone what they’re up to.
Even before the starting pistol was fired on the electric era that car was the hybrid Toyota Prius, which wore its environmental heart on its hemp sleeve, and was much beloved by a seam of Hollywood celebrities so irritating that they should only be handled with gloves.
And that was job done, apparently, because Toyota got so distracted by its virtuous little family hatchback that it completely missed the electric train leaving the station while the hybrid one faced leaves on the line. Five stars to the Japanese carmaker for ensuring that 112 per cent of internet app-based private hire taxis were Prius shaped, but that gimmick was a mere sticking plaster on the wound.
But now at last Toyota has finally produced a fully electric vehicle with the sorts of looks that might win people over to the EV cause in the same way that the Prius sold impressionable folks onto hybrid power. Only without the celebrity endorsements this time, they’ve all still got a load of payments on their Teslas to make.
The bZ4X – or Toyota Buzzforks as it may or may not be known – expects you to prove that you’re not a robot before you can get behind the wheel, but we’re sure that it’ll soon captcha your heart with its unorthodox exterior and angular insides. Because after all, one person’s did-they-forget-to-paint-those-wheelarches? is another person’s neat little design quirk.
Toyota's new EV might have had you at ‘hello, what on earth is that’, but you’ll definitely stay for the 71kWh battery that apparently guarantees a WLTP range in the mid-200s thanks to standard-fit heat pumps and water-cooled batteries. It’ll charge at 150kW too, getting you back on the road in no time at all. Well, some time at all. Enough to get to the toilet and leaf through a few magazines you have no intention of buying (you already subscribe to Top Gear of course).
In reality the bZ4X is a rather conventional electric vehicle – a dreaded SUV no less – that doesn’t really bring anything new to the game, aside from unpainted bodywork (to save weight, perhaps?) and an actually pretty cool solar panelled roof option that Toyota reckons will get you an extra 1,100 miles a year of range. If you park it next to the sun, presumably. Although that little titbit is sadly not an option in the UK at the moment – says something about our weather, doesn’t it.
Still, bold looks but humdrum underwear didn’t hold Toyota’s C-HR crossover back any, and if the firm’s first electric vehicle can back up bold looks with an experience that can be described as relentlessly competent it won’t be going too far wrong.
Best EV for standing out – Toyota bZ4X
Price: From £43,780
Range: Up to 317 miles
Engine: 201bhp e-motor
Top speed: 100mph
Boot space: 452 litres
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