New pure-electric Toyota bZ4X previewed in concept form

Toyota RAV4-sized electric SUV will be developed in partnership with Subaru

  • A bold exterior design and minimalist interior
  • Arriving in showrooms in 2022
  • New car forms part of a wider range of ‘bZ’ models

Toyota has unveiled the new Toyota bZ4X concept car. The Japanese manufacturer has been at the forefront of hybrid technology and is finally venturing into electric cars with the arrival of this new SUV. 

The final production version of the bZ4X will be the first of seven electric bZ cars to appear between now and 2025 as part of Toyota’s plan to launch a 15-model all-electric lineup. It’s been developed in conjunction with Subaru, specifically the car’s four-wheel-drive system. 

Top 10 best electric SUVs 2021

Sitting on a new e-TNGA platform, the all-electric version of the modular platform that has underpinned all recent Toyota models, the bZ4X is a similar size to the hybrid Toyota RAV4, making it a direct rival to the Skoda Enyaq, the Nissan Ariya and the Volkswagen ID.4. 

While dimensions for the bZ4X Concept are still under wraps, Toyota has labelled the bZ4X a “medium-sized SUV” and says the ‘4’ in its badge stands for its size. We expect this means it will be similar in size to the brand’s RAV4, though the bZ4X’s front and rear overhangs appear to be shorter. This suggests the bZ models will boast a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) and, therefore, a spacious interior; Toyota has already teased that the legroom in the bZ4X Concept is similar to that of the Lexus LS saloon.

2022 Toyota bZX4: exterior and design

Keeping tradition with hybrid-powered Toyotas, the bZ4X concept features a bold exterior look with plenty of sharp, angular lines, and a cab-rearward design, which gives the SUV a notably long bonnet. Since the bZ4X is fully electric, a conventional grille has been replaced with a small ‘mouth’ just beneath the bonnet. 

Ultra-slim daytime running lights sit above quadruple-lens headlights, while a light bar runs right across the rear, above louvred-effect tail-lights. A contrast of materials, including gloss-black plastics that line the wheel arches, complete the look. 

From a more functional perspective, Toyota says the bZ4X incorporates solar charging, which we assume will be achieved via roof-mounted panels.

Interior and technology 

Inside, the bZ4X is pleasingly simple. The cabin features a small instrument panel and a neatly integrated widescreen infotainment system, with the use of fabric on the main fascia. You’ll most likely be intrigued by the unusual steering wheel, which is no longer a traditional circle. This is because the bZ4X will be available with steer-by-wire technology, which, Toyota says, will mean the driver no longer needs to move their hands around the steering wheel to make a manoeuvre, thanks to the system’s collaboration. This technology will be made available in China first, but Toyota says it plans to roll it out worldwide.

Range and performance

Toyota is yet to confirm battery sizes for the bZ4X. All we know so far is that the concept has motors on both axles to deliver four-wheel drive. When speaking to our sister site, Auto Express, Toyota Europe’s head of marketing and product development, Andrea Carlucci, suggested that achievable range could be more important for the company than headline-grabbing 'claimed figures'. 

He said: “I think we should provide the right range at the right cost," Carlucci said. "That is the basic philosophy. We want to be competitive with the D-SUV [RAV4-sized] category but we also believe it is important to stay in the way of making cars at Toyota. So you get what is promised.

"We started 25 years ago making electrified vehicles, so we know how to build them correctly, how the system interconnects with the different components. Below five degrees batteries tend to be unstable in their performance, and in very hot countries durability can be affected when the car is exposed to more than 40 degrees for a long time.

"This is where I think we can really provide a unique point of going to market, with the perception consumers have of our brand. We want to say if you promise 'x' kilometres, it's not about promising something that maybe on paper is much more than what, in reality, you're going to get. That's a signature of these new vehicles and the bZ brand."

What can buyers expect? 

The ‘bZ’ part of the car’s name stands for Beyond Zero, Toyota’s vision of carbon-neutral motoring, while the ‘X’ denotes a crossover body style. Toyota has trademarked a range of ‘bZ’ nameplates, and in many cases it has also registered the ‘X’ variant, so expect a whole series of electric models. The brand has already teased renders of a small crossover, family hatchback and a larger SUV earlier in the year, confirming that this platform will facilitate a whole range of different-sized models, and will allow either two or four-wheel drive. 

The bZ4X is set to arrive in showrooms by summer 2022 but without details on battery sizes, it’s difficult to predict the car’s price. We do, however, expect prices to be similar to the VW ID.4, which starts at around £40,000.

Read our guides to the best electric cars and the best cars coming out in 2021 and beyond.

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