ELECTRIC TOYOTA bZ4X

RAV4-sized BEV is a compelling Model Y alternative best experienced in top-spec, dual-motor Motion form.

bZ4X. The alphanumeric nameplate doesn’t easily roll off the tongue. But say it out loud enough times and you’ll eventually commit it to memory. Options include the front-drive bZ4X Pure (with 150kW/266Nm) and this high-spec all-wheel-drive variant, badged Motion, which commands an $11k premium, goes a bit better, but returns about 10 percent less potential range. Both get the same 71kWh battery.

Yes, there are plenty of Motion frills but also strong practicality: the cabin is spacious and airy, the rear seats are split-folding and you get over 450L of load space beneath the cargo cover. Legroom is excellent front and rear and there’s no obstructive transmission tunnel to hurdle. You miss out on a glovebox (although oddment storage is otherwise good) and the downside of the small, round steering wheel is that the rim partially obscures the modest digital instrument display.

The Motion cabin is very inviting and relaxing. It introduces leather-like upholstery, a panoramic sunroof and a high-performing JBL audio system. The fabric dash contrasts with array of hard plastics. The appealing two-tone paintwork costs an extra $1000 whereas 20-inch alloys come as standard.

To drive, the bZ4X is brisk, comfortable and feels entirely secure. Front and rear motors are each rated at 80kW, so there’s a little more overall grunt than in the Pure with its single 150kW motor. Combined with AWD, it’s enough to lower the 0-100km/h time to less than seven seconds. Driven normally, this bZ4X seems as solid and sensible as any other Toyota and not without driver appeal if you press on and explore the traction advantages of the Motion’s all-wheel drive. It steps away smoothly, exhibits a calm and quiet ride on big alloys and offers more than adequate body control with the low centre of gravity helping contain roll. Steering is well weighted, relaxed, and accurate. We found a bit of creep from standstill to be useful when manoeuvring and parking up.

It’s worth mentioning that regen is relatively strong so you can enjoy a degree of single-pedal driving if you activate the button to the right of the rotary controller (there is no power mode or paddles behind the steering wheel). We’d describe the other mode of deceleration as coasting. Eco mode reduces energy consumption slightly.

This being the dual-motor variant, you get some unique 4x4 features that will appeal to the more adventurous driver. There’s selectable hill descent control, low-speed crawl and good axle articulation. Wading depth is rated at 500mm and its benefit was not lost on us during a week of mid-winter rain.

You certainly pay a premium for the Motion but there’s obvious value in the step up. Compared with the slightly pared-back Pure, this variant has head-turning road presence, a little more driver appeal, and a greater sense of occasion. It’s the one you’re more likely to religiously wash each Sunday morning. We enjoyed every outing, finding it satisfying to drive on trips of any length to the point that it rapidly became an invaluable tool for the household. Food for serious thought, then, if you’re shopping for a practical family EV with some X-factor.

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TOYOTA bZ4X MOTION

MOTOR dual synchronous electric

BATTERY 71kWh total

POWER 160kW and 338Nm

TRANSMISSION Single-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN all-wheel drive

WHEELS 20-inch alloy

TYRES 235/50 (f, r)

WEIGHT 2060kg

LENGTH 4.70m

0-100km/h 6.9 secs

RANGE CLAIM 470km

PRICE from $82,990

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