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Long-term review

Toyota bZ4X - long-term review

£54,410 / £54,410 as tested / £519pcm
Published: 12 Dec 2023
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    bZ4X Vision

  • Range

    260 miles

  • ENGINE

    1cc

  • BHP

    214.6bhp

  • 0-62

    6.9s

TG's long-term Toyota bZ4X: let's talk about charging. Wait, come back!

Charging. A largely dull topic for most, it's number one on the list of conversation-starters for people who have an EV. Though largely not Tesla owners, because of the SuperCharger network. But still, it’s a weird one; you don’t hear ICE owners discussing the finer details of their re-fuelling. ‘It took me seven minutes to fill up the Octavia today, Dave - would have been shorter, but some psychopath was doing their weekly shop from the BP garage.’

Still TL:DR: the Toyota bZ4X is actually pretty good at charging. Under 20 per cent SoC (state of charge) it’ll reliably start taking on energy at 140+kW on a big enough charger (from a quoted max of 150), dropping gradually in speed after about 30 per cent. That means 80 per cent in a relatively meagre amount of time. It also appears to work nicely with every charger I’ve so far tried it on - something that related electronics in Lexus products had hiccups with - and with the charging port on the nearside front, there’s no awkward reversing shuffle when lining up to a convenient charger.

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The story here being that there really is no story unless you really want there to be and the Toyota is broadly in the acceptable range for charging ability. Obviously an 800-volt architecture for more like 250kW acceptance would be preferable, but I’ve never really had any hanging about to speak of.

I mean, the exceptional tribalism of The Internet might have you believe that charging an electric car requires camping equipment, a degree in computer science, fire-fighting crews on standby and the patience of a saint who’s been mainlining Temazepam, but it’s really not that hard. I don’t regard myself as a heavy user of public charging, mainly because I’ll avoid it at all costs because of the …er… costs.

Be as evangelical as you like about EVs, if you’re charging up at big-power public chargers a lot, your wallet will be looking horribly bruised. Prices in the UK are worryingly close to those of petrol in terms of pence-per-mile, and that hurts. So I tend to avoid them unless I really need to, and will only ‘top off’ - usually with enough juice to get me back to my home charger, which is cheap. And yes, I’m fully aware that having a home charger is something not everyone has access to, but I feel that it’s probably the number one thing that makes living with an EV worth it.

My own example is pretty obvious; the bZ4X has a real-world range of 210 miles if the temperatures are mild. One of my pretty regular trips is to Heathrow Airport, which is 110 miles from my house; the Toyota simply won’t make it there and back on one charge. Now obviously, this is a situation that would be eased if there were a slow (and cheap) charger where I could park the car while away for a couple of days, but we’re not there yet/that’s a different story. So I’ll often head back up the A1 and stick 30-40 miles extra in to hoik me back to home base.

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In the bZ4X, which as mentioned seems happy to charge at roughly 140+kW when below 20 per cent SOC, that’s seems to be about 4-5 minutes on a big enough charger, giving me plenty of squish. I could put in less, but being as I’m the person that would fill up a petrol car at 1/4 full, I like to have a bit extra. And those four minutes aren't really long enough to do anything significant except send a couple of texts - and about the same as filling up an ICE car. Admittedly I don’t have a full battery when I get home, but I’ve also never had a petrol station at my house either. And if I’ve got extra stuff to do, I just stay for maybe 20 minutes and suck up the cost.

There are problems with the charging network and yes, I do get seriously frustrated at the number of electric cars parked at chargers showing 100 per cent charged (just what ARE people doing at Wetherby Services for that amount of time?), but it’s nowhere near as complicated as some would have you believe. You just need to get a bit used to it.

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