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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The front-drive only version gets just over 200bhp and bigger range. The two-motor version roughy halves the output of the motor but adds another, so it doesn't need to stress the battery by asking for more overall power. So that's 214bhp, the extra horsepower overcoming the added weight. That's the version we drove and it’s perky rather than fast, with acceleration that tails off significantly after 60mph.

TG did ask whether the 201bhp unit would fit in both ends of the car, and apparently it would, giving obvious opportunities for a 402bhp bZ4X, if only for the possibility of smashing that in to Toyota’s motorsport arm and getting a GRbZ4X and making vowels redundant forever.

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Interesting to see that for now Toyota simply hasn’t bothered giving the bZ4X neck-snapping acceleration just for the sake of it (good) and progress is genial and… progressive. Sounds weird to say that, but it makes the most of the smoothness of the electric drivetrain, and feels appropriate.

How does it cope with corners?

It handles well but feels heavy in tight turns and roundabouts. The 4WD version we drove tends towards mild, easily contained understeer. The steering is accurate. Cornering feel through the steering wheel and seat-of-pants isn't entirely absent, which is actually a pretty good result for this kind of car.

Do you like one-pedal driving? Some folk do, some don't; contrary to popular belief it doesn't add to efficiency. Anyway, the Toyota has a one-pedal button but its brake regeneration isn’t aggressive enough to really be considered one-pedal. Toyota needs to up the re-gen to make it more useful. After that, the friction brakes are good and easy enough to modulate.

And the ride?

The ride is also pretty soothing, taking off the worst of sharp bumps. The damping keeps control of things on big dips and crests. More annoying is a pretty high level of wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds.

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The driver assist systems work smoothly, tracing a curving motorway lane without nervous twitches, and following another car intuitively. This isn't as wide a car as many EV rivals, and that makes it feel handy in town or narrow rural roads.

Efficiency and charging: we need to know!

Because the front-drive version in particular goes a long way on a moderate-sized battery and accepts high charge power, you'll be on your way quickly. All bZ4Xs get 150kW DC charging as standard, meaning a quick 10-80 per cent top up on a big rapid charger in about half an hour, 70 minutes on the more common 50kW.

For AC, early cars will get 6.6kW, with 11kW three-phase from late in 2022. Although three-phase is industrial power, so unless you live in a warehouse it might not make much difference. A heat pump is standard, so it should be as efficient in the cold as it can be. And Toyota is confident that this battery setup will last a long time – you can tell by the warranty.

Is it an off-road thing?

Toyota makes a big deal out of the fact that the bZ4X is decent off-road – unlike most of its competition – sporting an X-Mode that sees it more than capable of dealing with more than most owners are ever likely to throw at it. Short overhangs from the electric platform help, and so does the sledge-like smooth bottom. The off-road chops were part of Subaru's contribution to the project.

Indeed we waded, hillclimbed, cross-axled and mud-ran a bZ4X through several carefully-crafted off-road courses. Even on 'eco' road tyres, it finds remarkable traction thanks to electronic modulation of the torque being more subtle than systems with a combustion engine could ever manage.

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