Toyota has relied on its proven hybrid concept for many years. Last but not least, the combination of low real consumption and the absence of many expensive and vulnerable components such as starter motors, generators, clutches and turbochargers has made the drive system a global success. Toyota could shine compared to conventional internal combustion engines, but compared to battery-powered electric cars, hybrid operation has no chance in terms of energy requirements. Toyota is also fully aware of this. That’s why they want to bring a whole range of electric cars to market by 2030. The SUV bZ4x is just the beginning. We could already take a first test drive.
Lots of space
bZ4x is a 4.69 m long SUV, so it has the format of a BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC. Hyundai Ioniq 5 and VW ID.4 as direct competitors are slightly shorter. At 2.85 m, the wheelbase is relatively long, which is also noticeable in the interior: there is plenty of freedom of movement on all seats. With its 452 liters, the luggage space is a little narrower than the competitors mentioned. Typical Toyota: Everything is properly processed, when it comes to material selection, the brand is more pragmatic than stylish. Some plastics look a bit simple considering that you are sitting in a car that costs around 50,000 euros.
Intuitive to use
Unusual at Toyota is the concept of placing the instrument cluster above the steering wheel – just as Peugeot has done for many years. Unfortunately, as there, it does not fit the stature of all drivers. All important functions that you handle in everyday life are intuitive and can be accessed without fumbling in submenus. The basic equipment with a small main screen in the middle and a huge border looks so boring that hardly anyone will accept it just for visual reasons. With the comfort package of 3,900 euros, a 12.3-inch screen is moved in, which drastically upgrades the dashboard.
More importantly, however, it seems that Toyota has clearly increased in this area in terms of menu navigation, equipment range and working speed compared to the latest test cars that we had from this brand in the editorial office. It was to wait given the grounds presented there, which does not make it any less fun. The large glass roof is criticized. That is a good idea in itself, but Toyota could have given it an opening function for another 1110 euros.
Two drive variants
Toyota offers the SUV with two different drives that are fundamentally different. In the model with front-wheel drive, a 150 kW motor is installed on the front axle, in the four-wheel drive version there is an 80 kW motor front and rear. The system’s performance is therefore close to each other, as is the driving performance. With 6.9, four-wheel drive is 0.6 seconds faster in the standard sprint, but it ends at 160 km / h. Given the small differences, a surcharge of around 3,000 euros seems brave. Anyone who often wants to move the bZ4x in poor road conditions or appreciates the driving dynamic benefits of torque vectoring, which is possible with four driven wheels, will probably accept it, the majority should be well equipped with front-wheel drive.
What also speaks for front-wheel drive: Both use the same storage equipment, but without the electrified rear axle, consumption is certainly a little lower, and not just in WLTP. In WLTP, Toyota states 14.4 to 16.7 kWh / 100 km (front-wheel drive) and 18 kWh / 100 km. The battery has a capacity of 71.4 kWh, the bike range is 442 to 513 km for front-wheel drive, depending on wheel equipment, and 415 km for the four-wheel drive model with standard 20-inch wheels.
At first only a single-phase charger
Toyota is taking a temporary special road when it comes to charging, and it deserves special attention. Since the first examples come with a single-phase AC charger that allows a maximum of 6.6 kW. These can generally only be fully utilized at public charging stations, one of the subsidized wall boxes for the garage is limited to 3.7 kW. Toyota has announced that they will replace this charger with a three-phase at the end of the year, with which the 11 kW can be fully reached at home. So the first bZ4x will have a higher depreciation.
Nothing changes at the DC charging station. Up to 150 kW will be possible here. The battery guarantee, with which Toyota advertises confidence in e-mobility, is unusual: ten years or a million kilometers with a minimum capacity of 70 percent – it is a strong message that costs nothing extra.
On the road: unspectacular
We were certainly not the only ones eagerly waiting to see how Toyota’s first electric drive would perform in practice. The short version: As expected, completely unspectacular. The SUV is quiet and there is so much power available all the time that full reserves will hardly be needed in everyday life. The speed limit on the autobahn is 160 km / h, which is quickly reached. The steering and chassis do not invite to test the limits so that a fairly relaxed driving style sets in quickly, which fits the format well.
Prices and packages
The already extensively equipped base model costs 47,490 euros. In addition to the color, any extra wishes are only fulfilled through packages that are based on each other. The comfort package costs 3900 euros and includes the large screen, heated, electrically adjustable seats, rain sensor and parking assistance. The technology package for 3700 euros is based on this, which then contains matrix lights, 20-inch rims, sound systems, ventilated seats and a few small things. Only then do the opportunities for glass roofs and four-wheel drive open up. As is so often the case with Toyota, certain wishes, such as a sound system, suddenly make the car considerably more expensive.