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Toyota has premiered its first purpose-built electric car: the bZ4X

Tags: #electric-vehicles

Toyota has revealed its first purpose-designed battery electric vehicle. Called the bZ4X, it is also the first model in the car maker’s beyond Zero sub-brand and will compete with some of the most popular EVs already available when it hits the road in 2022.

The bZ4X is an important car for Toyota which, as one of the world’s largest car brands, is late to the EV party. Based on its e-TNGA platform, which it has developed alongside Subaru, the mid-sized SUV certainly ticks a lot of boxes. Moreover, it benefits from Toyota’s quarter-century of working with electrified vehicles and lithium-ion technology.

Platform and powertrain

As the debut car on the e-TNGA platform, the bZ4X has the weight of expectation on its broad shoulders to compete with the likes of the Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia EV6, Volvo XC40 Recharge and Audi Q4 e-tron among others. The platform integrates the thin battery into the structure of the chassis, aiding strength and – as is the way with most EVs – providing a low centre of gravity.

Electronically, it’s a 400 volt system with a 71.4kWh battery capable of charging at up to 150kW using CCS2 (which should see a full charge in around 30 minutes), or 6.6kW using an AC on-board charger. This will be increased to 11kW later in 2022. Crucially, Toyota reckons that owners will get fantastic longevity from the battery, expecting a decline of just 10 per cent over 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Two- and all-wheel drive variants will be offered. A front-wheel drive version gets a 201bhp, 195lb-ft motor enabling 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds. The all-wheel drive version has separate 107bhp motors (totalling 214bhp) with 247lb-ft, enabling 0-62 in 7.7 seconds as well as XMODE driving which offers driving modes for snow and mud. The top speed for both models is 100mph.

According to the WLTP test, the bZ4X has a range of 280 miles – putting it right up there with its biggest rivals.

Exterior design

The front of the car is defined by Toyota’s “hammerhead” signature shape comprising slim headlights and strong front corners. As is the trend now, the bZ4X has a low roofline which, along with slender pillars, low chassis line and wheels pushed out to the car’s corners, emphasises the car’s low centre of gravity. At the rear, Toyota has again ensured that the corners are characteristically strong and the full-width taillight adds a distinctive touch.

The car isn’t dissimilar in size to the RAV4, but is 85mm lower, has shorter overhangs and a 160mm longer wheelbase. Rear seat leg room of 900mm is extremely generous for a car of this size.

Interior design and technology

Toyota has themed the interior around the Swedish word “lagom” which means “just right”. Comfort and spaciousness come together to tick that other EV bingo box of creating cabin space that is akin to a living room. Luggage space is generous with up to 452 litres available with the seats in place.

Up front, the instrument panel is slim and low set, increasing the sense of roominess and forward visibility. Toyota talks of a ‘human-centre’ cockpit that supports a “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road” principle. Supporting this is a seven inch TFT instrument display which sits just below the driver’s eyeline. A multifunction steering wheel also ensures that much of what you’d need to access on the move is at your fingertips. All of this is augmented by a large, central, landscape-oriented touchscreen which – happily – also has actual buttons alongside it to operate various key functions.

Toyota has introduced a steer by wire system on the car which frees up space by doing away with bulky mechanical links. This is said to make steering smoother and easier, as well as being able to reduce the lock-to-lock turn ratio. Steering feedback is obviously reduced, but the torque required to turn the wheel changes depending on the drive mode. The bZ4X also comes with the latest third generation of Toyota Safety Sense accident prevention and mitigation.

Price and availability

We suspect that Toyota will reveal prices in early December when the car gets its European debut. Orders will be available from December 15. If the Toyota isn’t for you, the Subaru Solterra – which will share most of the bZ4X’s features – will launch in early 2022.

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