Toyota has released details and specifications of its bZX4 electric SUV, sharing images of a near-series prototype and confirming it will go ahead with the controversial “yoke” steering wheel.
The bZX4 is the Japanese carmaker’s first full step into electrification, and the first model in its bZ series which will be launched globally in mid-2022. There will be six more bZ models by 2025.
Taking a “technology-agnostic” approach, Toyota’s bZ series will sit alongside a full range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen vehicles (Toyota also makes the Mirai), and will be available in a front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configuration.
The bZX4 will offer an estimated 500km driving range in its single-motor configuration, with 150kW power from the motor on the front axle. The dual-motor variant offers an additional 80kW power from the rear axle but less estimated range (460km) as a result.
Though electric, quick acceleration is not a focus for Toyota in the bZX4, which will go from 0-100km/hr in 8.4 seconds with a single motor, or 7.7 seconds in the dual motor variant.
Built on Toyota’s new e-TNGA platform for electric vehicles, which Subaru will also use, the 4.69m long, 1.86mwide and 1.65m high SUV has angular lines which give it all the appearance of an electric RAV4 although a closed front and lack of grille distinguish it.
The BEV is distinguished by aerodynamic corners and the slender design of the bumper. Also notable is the massive hammerhead shark-like shape that runs from the hood to the top of the headlamps.
All the usual electric technology advancements make an appearance in the bZX4, from an in-floor battery and lack a driveshaft tunnel that open up the interior, offering plenty of legroom.
A pared-down, low dashboard add to a more mimimal feel, while Toyota says that soundproof glass helps to ensure passengers can converse in peace.
In the all-wheel-drive version, Toyota implements independent control of either motor to improve driving characteristics. First the first time, Subaru’s AWD technology and X-MODE have been adopted in the AWD vehicle, while grip control, a new feature for X-MODE, is intended to improve off-road performance.
Both a traditional steering wheel and yoke steering wheel, similar to that introduced by Tesla in its refreshed Model S, will be on offer.
The yoke steering wheel will employ a steer-by-wire system that allows for one-hand steering, with a 150-degree lock-to-lock to reduce hand changes – also a first for Toyota – while a round steering wheel will employ standard steering technology.
An optional solar roof will also be offered by Toyota, that it says can generate up to 1,800km driving range completely free from the sun every year.
Whether the bZX4 is to come to Australia is not yet certain; earlier reports suggest that if it does, it could be just months after its global release in mid-2022. However, word is that it would not be in any great volume, nor at any market-beating price. We have contacted Toyota for comment.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.