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Toyota bZ4X (2022) International First Drive ReviewWe found ourselves in the super eco-friendly cit

Toyota bZ4X (2022) International First Drive Review We found ourselves in the super eco-friendly city of Copenhagen to test drive the brand new all-electric car from Toyota. The bZ4X or Beyond Zero 4-door X over is an all-new bespoke machine from Japan. By Lawrence Minnie Published: 20 June 2022, 08:40


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Alternative drive Toyota has made no secret about its priorities when it comes to alternative drive vehicles. Battery-operated cars have taken a back seat while they focused on hybrids and hydrogen power. Toyota pioneered hybrid power and for over 25 years has been the leader with vehicles such as the Prius and most of the Lexus stable. Pressure has been mounting though for Toyota to bring a battery-operated machine to market and that is how we found ourselves in the eco-friendly city of Copenhagen in Denmark for the international launch of the new bZ4X crossover. Related: Best upcoming hybrid and electric cars of 2022 R&D is expensive and in order to accelerate the introduction, a joint venture with Subaru would see the two companies work together on bringing this model to life. Each would offer their expertise from engineering and technology to safety and styling, resulting in a completely new, from the ground up, machine. We spent a day experiencing the sights and non-sounds of Copenhagen in the bZ4X and are happy to report that Toyota has hit the nail on the head. Initially one may think that the bZ4 is just a rehashed Rav4, but you would be wrong, this is not a reworked existing vehicle but rather a completely bespoke machine. Built on Toyota's new eTNGA platform, the bZ4X is the first vehicle that will use this new build system made purely for battery electric machines and will allow Toyota to build a host of variations that will see most of their lineup being able to be electrified. Styling Although the bZ is very similar to the Rav4, it is in fact longer and wider and has many of its own styling tweaks. The first you will notice are the matt black wheel arch claddings and 20-inch wheels. There are few grades available with our test units being the high-grade versions with all the bells and whistles. Aggressive looking LED lighting front and rear add to the futuristic appearance while the sharp lines and body creases give the bZ a sporty look and feel. As with most electric cars, the bZ is devoid of a front grille as it doesn't need it, instead, you get the requisite body-coloured panel and small air dam below it and closer inspection reveal the sci-fi-looking panel between bonnet and panel housing all the radar sensors for the drive and safety systems. Unlike many electric vehicles, the bonnet does open revealing the gubbins of the drive unit, no plastic covers or frunk here. Around the back the hatch has a squared-off appearance with a heavy rake to the back glass and edgy rear lines similar to those found on Lexus machines, the entire roof and hatch appear as one blacked-out piece. Alternative powered Toyotas have different badging receiving blue elements inside them, here though, the badging is stock Toyota, no blue surrounds and the only indication you get that this is not an ICE vehicle is the Electric badging on the charge port door. Interior The interior is rather dark due to the privacy glass on three sides, add to that dark grey leather and piano black trim with the odd bit of brushed aluminium, and it does seem a little sombre. The interior is softened up somewhat by the addition of cloth on the dashboard and in lower grades on the centre section of the seats. Adding some brightness is the 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with its JBL sound system that houses the multicamera view video feed, we do like the fact there are manual buttons to push and pull and no haptic feedback switchgear. From a driver's perspective, the bZ feels a little strange, the seats are supportive and comfortable, but the steering wheel sits very low and is only reach adjustable. We can only assume that this is done to keep the column low so that it doesn't block the view of the digital instrument cluster. On the whole, the interior is well finished but if you go hunting you can find a few cheaper plastic panels, but they are well away from any of the touch surfaces. Drivetrain The bZ range will be available with two drive options, a single FWD unit or the AWD front and rear arrangement. The bZ employs Toyota's eAxle system, with the drive units being powered by a 71kW/h battery pack that sits firmly between the chassis rails, stiffening things up. The single drive unit models deliver 150kW and 265Nm while the AWD that we tested delivers 80kW from each drive unit for a combined 366Nm. When driven economically, one should expect a 516km range from the single drive unit and 470km from the AWD unit. As with many other electric cars you can DC fast charge these machines from 0-80% in roughly 30 minutes while home charging will take substantially longer. The Drive Our test route was paired well with the car with a combination stop/start city driving, long open stretches of countryside, and a speedy highway. The bZ glides effortlessly along in busy traffic, but it is when you get out onto country roads that it comes alive. The bZ is not light, you can feel the weight of the car but it moves around without much labour. The steering is well-weighted but not heavy and surprisingly enough, despite the 20-inch wheels, the ride was very comfortable, now whether that was the immaculate Danish roads or the suspension is up for debate but over 200km was dispatched in a blink. The second part of the drive was a technical exercise done at the Copenhill facility where we put the driving modes through their paces, this is where many would have recognized the X-Mode system that can be found in Subarus. The bZ has hill ascent and descent as well as the offroad systems that vector the power to each wheel to ensure that even if you only have two wheels on the ground the power will still be effectively diverted allowing you to drive through just about everything. Interestingly the bZ has 500mm of water wading depth meaning that the battery pack has been waterproofed, something that is well needed in SA. Verdict Toyota is still one of South Africa's best-selling cars and the addition of an all-electric machine is going to be greatly welcomed in our local market. The question on everyone's lips right now is when and how much. Toyota has confirmed that the bZ is under consideration for SA, meaning that it will come but which derivatives and the cost when landed are still being decided. The success of the Corolla Cross hybrid and our ever-growing fuel prices are proof that SA needs this and we can almost guarantee that this will sell incredibly well if Toyota gets the price right.


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