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Long-term review

Toyota bZ4X - long-term review

£54,410 / £54,410 as tested / £519pcm
Published: 19 Mar 2024
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    bZ4X Vision

  • Range

    260 miles

  • ENGINE

    1cc

  • BHP

    214.6bhp

  • 0-62

    6.9s

Does the bZ4X look cool now that it's got vintage Toyota stripes?

If you thought the bZ4X wasn’t particularly noticeable, then rest assured that you can’t miss the Top Gear version now. A car you can’t mislay in a car park, even in the dark. Wearing a blindfold and a pillowcase over your head. Those masters of vinylcraft down at Mission Motorsport’s Livery Department have taken my childish scrawls and transformed the previously UN-white Toyota into something much more visually exciting-slash-ludicrous.

Lee Winstone and his team took a look at the vintage Toyota stripes inspiration and came up with something that - while honouring my intent - took the idea to a whole new level. It’s also more complicated than it seems; the bZ4X is actually more textured in terms of contour lines than it looks in base white, so Lee has had to wrangle the plastic in three different colours and cope with a complicated bodyshape to make this thing straight.

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And it looks fabulous. Anyone who knows the past glories of Toyota’s stripe game will recognise it instantly, but re-configured for a modern car and 2024. My children are suitably mortified.

There’s more to come, as well as some better pictures, but I’ve been bombing around doing various stories for the past few weeks, so getting things sorted for the mini-project has taken a backseat. Which, let’s face is, is the story of every project car  - mini or not - as far back as anyone can remember.

Still, in the course of said adventures, I was in Japan looking at some of Toyota and Lexus’ new products, and delving a little bit into what comes next. And the future looks really bright with Toyota’s next-generation ‘prismatic’ batteries. Now, the new batteries come in three distinct flavours: the first will be a performance battery that’ll offer twice the range of current batteries in things like Toyota’s bZ4X for 20 per cent less cost. So a smaller and lighter battery would be possible with a real-world 300-mile range in my car, something that would elevate the experience massively.

Then there’ll be a quality, low-cost LFP battery for mid-range EVs which will be 40 per cent cheaper, but only increase range by 20 per cent, and a high-performance battery that would be thinner and lighter than anything we currently have, but be configured for high power outputs. Oh, and all of these will charge from 10-80 per cent in ten minutes. Which are the kind of practical improvements that shine - especially as charging on public chargers suddenly becomes an entirely different proposition.

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In the mid-future, there’s also apparently solid-state battery tech on the way in 2027/28 (where the liquid or gel in a traditional lithium-ion battery doesn’t exist), which are leagues ahead again. Faster charging, safer, more efficient, much greater energy density - the laundry list of why solid state really could change the game is long. Although don’t expect them to appear in ‘cheap’ EVs anytime soon.

And while everyone talks about range, there are also strides being made in terms of efficiency - after all, having a big fuel tank doesn’t mean you’re getting good mpg, and the same can be said of EVs; the more miles you can get from every kWh, the less battery you actually need. The revolution isn’t over, we’re still in the middle of it. After a slow start, it looks like Toyota is finally stepping up its game.

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