Meet the all-new Toyota bZ4X, the first model in a new series of bZ (beyond Zero( battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Faithful in its design and technology to its concept predecessor, revealed earlier this year, the production-ready bZ4X is the first model to be developed by Toyota entirely as a BEV. It is also the first car to be built on the company’s new dedicated BEV platform. Based on e-TNGA philosophy, this has been co-developed by Subaru and Toyota. Incorporating the battery unit as an integral part of the chassis, beneath the vehicle floor, it gives the fundamental benefits of a low centre of gravity, excellent front/rear weight balance and high body rigidity for high levels of safety and ride and handling quality.
The Toyota bZ4X is a spacious, comfortable SUV, available with a new all-wheel drive system that provides class-leading off-road handling and performance with separate electric motors for each axle. Its clean, sleek and powerful exterior design reflects both its advanced BEV qualities and SUV status, and debuts a new brand-defining “hammerhead” frontal shape, communicating the car’s strong stance.
The model provides excellent accommodation in a light and open five-seat cabin, plus generous load capacity. With an expected range of more than 280 miles (depending on version, exact data to be confirmed later). The Toyota bZ4X offers advanced technology features, including a solar panel roof to help charge the battery while driving or parked, and third generation Toyota Safety Sense with new and improved active safety and driver assistance systems.
The front-wheel drive bZ4X is powered by a high-response 150kW electric motor. It produces 201bhp and 265Nm of torque, enabling 0-62mph acceleration in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 100mph. The all-wheel drive model (further details below) has maximum power of 214.5bhp with 336Nm of torque; top speed is unchanged, while acceleration to 62mph is reduced to 7.7 seconds. All performance figures remain provisional prior to homologation.
The system offers the option of “single pedal drive” with a boost in the braking energy regeneration that lets the driver accelerate and slow the vehicle using only the throttle pedal.
Toyota has produced a sleek and robust design for the bZ4X that’s equally appropriate for modern urban life and the countryside, blending the advanced look of a BEV with the original qualities of an SUV. It is characterised by a new brand-defining “hammerhead” shape with signature slim headlight units and an emphasis on the front corners that communicates the car’s strong stance.
In side view, the silhouette is sleek with a low overall height, slender front pillars and a low axle line that reflects the low centre of gravity achieved with the new platform. Wheel arch mouldings, large wheels (up to 20-inch diameter) pushed out to the corners of the body and thick rocker panels express the car’s authentic SUV character. At the rear, the design focus is again on emphasising the corners, with a distinctive taillight bridging the width of the vehicle.
The design incorporates aerodynamic elements that contribute to the generous driving range, including apertures set deep in the front bumper corners to create smooth air curtains; a full underbody cover; a split roof spoiler and rear duck-tail lip spoiler; rear diffuser; and a precisely angled rear screen. The slim lower grille has a shutter that adjusts to channel cooling air flow to the battery and helps reduce wind resistance.
The theme for the interior is “lagom” – the Swedish word that expresses something that is “just right.” Here it is reflected in comfort and spaciousness that give the cabin the ambience of a living room, a feeling that’s enhanced by using soft, woven trim textures, satin-finish detailing and the option of a panoramic roof.
The instrument panel is slim and low set, adding to the sense of openness and the driver’s forward visibility. The “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road” principle is supported by the human-centred cockpit in which the seven-inch TFT instrument and information display sits directly in the driver’s forward eyeline, above the line of the steering wheel, so the meters can be viewed with minimal eye movement.
The long wheelbase delivers class-leading legroom for all occupants and a one-metre couple distance between front and rear passenger hip points. There is also generous load space with an adjustable deckboard; with the rear seats in place, there is up to 452 litres.
The high-density lithium-ion battery has a 71.4kWh capacity that is expected to deliver a driving range of more than 280 miles (applying to WLTP metrics). Figures depend on version and remain provisional at this stage, prior to homologation.
Thanks to an efficient and effective heating system, including a heat pump, reliability is also maintained in sub-zero temperatures, with only a modest reduction in range compared to competitor models. Similarly, the battery can be fast-charged without compromising safety or service life: an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in around 30 minutes with a 150kW fast-charging system (CCS2). At launch, the bZ4X is equipped with a 6.6kW on-board charger; from Q4 2022, a new 11kW three-phase charger will be introduced.
Key to the battery’s quality and durability is multiple monitoring of the voltage, current and temperature, from individual cell level. If any abnormal heat generation is detected, controls are automatically triggered. Countermeasures have been put in place to mitigate any material degradation, and there are safeguards in the manufacturing process to prevent foreign matter from entering the battery. In a Toyota first, the battery is water-cooled.
The AWD model features separate 80kW motors driving the front and rear axles. XMODE with its different drive modes can also be selected to suit the conditions with settings for snow/mud; deep snow and mud (below 13mph); and Grip Control for tougher off-road driving (below 6mph).
The bZ4X will be the first production Toyota to offer a steer-by-wire system – One Motion Grip – due for introduction in Europe at a later date. Dispensing with the mechanical linkage between the steering wheel and the front wheels, this electronic system adjusts the tyre angle precisely according to the driver’s intention, and provides more legroom, improving driving position freedom and ease of entry and exit. The traditional steering wheel is replaced with the One Motion Grip-control, making operation smoother and easier, with no need for hand-over-hand turning. Full-lock can be achieved with just a 150-degree turn.
The bZ4X is the first model in Toyota’s new bZ sub-brand – the name standing for “beyond Zero,” expressing the environmental leadership the company has pursued since pioneering electrified mobility with the original Prius, the world’s first hybrid electric production car, in 1997. Read more about 'Beyond Zero' here.