mReview: 2023 Toyota bZ4X - Probably The Best Car You Can’t Buy
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Was performance anxiety a legitimate factor? If so, the pent-up nerves probably meant you fell a little short.
But the Toyota, with all their car building experience, laughs in the face of adversity. Prior to the bZ4X, the Japanese automaker does appear to have fallen behind its peers, sticking to their guns on developing ever more efficient hybrid vehicles and also heavily investing in their hydrogen fuel cell technology.What Toyota’s first-ever BEV has taught us, is that the boffins at Aichi can actually build a competent all-electric vehicle - they are simply choosing not to do it. The final product exudes a certain maturity unmatched even by some of its more established EV rivals.
Genuine Concept Car Looks
This term has been brandished to death by automotive journalists by now, with my peers (in all fairness, I’m also guilty of this) using it to describe any car that doesn’t subscribe to the present-day car design ethos. I’ve had the fortune of driving some of the coolest and priciest cars through our busy streets, but no other car gets the attention that this bZ4X ever got.It looks like no other car on the road, with angular lines peppering the surface of the vehicle. Toyota has also embraced the EV traits, getting rid of the grille up front in favour of a clean, uninterrupted surface. For the added funk factor, large parts of the car have been left in raw black plastic, creating quite the contrast.Round the back, the car’s styling is a departure from your usual Toyota design language, with a light bar that is more reminiscent of those fitted to the rear end of a Lexus NX. And the Lexus connections do not stop there.
Aside from the wired Android Auto, the bZ4X is loaded to the gills with all the technology that you’d ever need on wheels. Advanced lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control systems mean the car can practically (and very competently) drive itself.It also has the materials and build quality to match its comprehensive equipment list. The use of hard scratchy plastics have been kept to a minimum, with plenty of plush materials used to trim the vast majority of the touchpoints. There is a distinct lack of the leatherette material on the dashboard, with Toyota opting to use a cloth material similar to what you’d find on the seats of the new Toyota Sienta. Not a bad thing, as the matte material means you’ll never suffer from harsh reflections on a bright sunny day.Space is also good all round, and you’d be comfortable regardless of which seat you happen to find yourself in. One gripe I do have is that the rear seat bases are too low, which does mean thigh support can be lacking, and you’ll definitely feel it on longer journeys.
Confident Road Holding
Built on an adapted version of Toyota’s TNGA platform, the bZ4X handles like most of its siblings in the Japanese automaker’s portfolio. This means a sure footed car that makes light work of whatever terrain it is that you choose to throw at it. The steering feels surprisingly crisp, with decent feedback and good overall weight.It is also fairly accurate, and whilst there is torque steer, nothing ever properly upsets the balance of the bZ4X when driven sensibly. Of course, it helps that the car only develops 201 bhp, so no amount of tomfoolery will ever overwhelm the grip on offer. But a slouch this isn’t, the instantaneous nature of electric drive allows it to even keep up with fast-moving traffic.Safety and efficiency takes precedence over raw brake feel, and this is true even in some properly sporty cars. I’m happy to report that despite the bZ4X’s crossover bodystyle, and the feedback-sapping regenerative braking, Toyota manages to create a brake pedal that feels properly old-school, which allows even those who are not remotely interested in performance driving to be able to repeatedly left-foot brake.
A Thoroughly Impressive First Attempt?
Toyota has been on a roll of late. Whilst the cars of the mid 2000s to the late 2010s left much to be desired, they seem to have found their way again of late, injecting some motoring joy into cars that really didn’t need it. Not that I’m complaining, as driver engagement is something that us automotive journalists seemingly always pine for.The engineers may have worked hard on rekindling the handling spark that classic Toyota cars had in spades, but they certainly didn’t spend all of the development phase donning only rose-tinted glasses. There are forward-thinking inclusions to the build of the vehicle, such as the solar panels on the roof of the car, which adds up to 1,600 kilometres of truly zero-emissions range annually.As a complete package, the bZ4X proves that fun-to-drive, mass-market cars can still exist in the electrified era. But unfortunately, you’d not be able to purchase this car. At the time of publishing, Toyota has made it clear that this is a car slated to only be available to the public through a car leasing/sharing scheme in the upcoming Tengah estate. Though I’m almost certain that you’d be able to buy this later down the road, once Toyota is certain that the product will properly withstand the test of time.
|Toyota bZ4X 71.4 kWh Specifications
|Price: N/A ($250,000 estimated)
|VES Band: A1
Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
201 hp, 266 Nm
4,690 mm x 1,860 mm x 1,650 mm
Photo Credits: ACube Creative (@weareacube)
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