When we have a name for a car that becomes familiar, it becomes part of the attraction of owning it.

Why Toyota calls its first full battery electric car the bZ4X is a mystery to me, especially when we have all got comfortable with names like Corolla, Yaris and Prius.

Toyota claims that the bZ4X is the first in what will be a series of bZ products to be launched globally. Its name references the size of the car, “4” for mid-size and the vehicle type, in this case “X” for a crossover SUV. Despite the explanations, it’s still not a comforting name.

Maybe a car with a name like that is part of a transition, because Toyota came late to the battery electric car market.

Toyota has invested its future more in hybrid cars and the Irish public is comfortable with that, as shown by the fact that there are four Toyota models among the top 10 sellers in Ireland so far this year, when battery electric car sales are dipping considerably.

This new electric Toyota bZ4X could be defined as an SUV or the more recent term of crossover because it’s essentially a hatchback on a slightly raised chassis.

The car is mid-size and is a competitor for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or the Kia Niro, which are among the best-selling electric cars on the market. It was developed jointly with Subaru, which offers almost the same car as a Solterra model.

There’s a solid feel to the Toyota bZ4X and the doors open wide, while there is good boot space at 452 litres capacity.

So, what’s its appeal over the competition? The bit that always impresses electric car buyers starts with the range. Toyota is optimistically quoting a range figure of close to 500km on a fully charged battery.

When I collected the car with its battery rated at 90% capacity, that converted to a range of about 380km on full charge.

That’s not particularly special anymore. From my experience, battery electric cars need to have a minimum of a 400km realistic range to be acceptable for the Irish market.

Home charging for a fully loaded battery will take around 10 hours. Fast-charging boosts are impressive, and the car gets you to 80% charge in a reasonable 45 minutes. The bigger challenge is getting an available charging point.

The lithium-ion battery unit has a 71.4kWh capacity of which 64kWh is considered usable. The battery pack is made up of 96 cells which are water-cooled. Battery monitoring and charging scheduling for home-charging are possible with a phone app.

Toyota’s confidence in the quality of the battery is reflected in its guarantee that it will retain at least 70% of its capacity up to 10 years.

The battery is also covered by Toyota’s original EV manufacturing warranty for eight years, or 160,000km, while others offer longer kilometre warranty.

The single-model version of the Toyota bZ4x came on 235/60 R18 Yokohama Advan V61 tyres that are designed for road use, rather than off-road, ability.

There is just a single model of the bZ4X now available, and it comes with a front-wheel-drive electric motor that delivers a smooth 204hp or 150kW. There’s a solid feel to the car, great acceleration and it sits squarely on the road to give great road holding and comfortable driving.

The car’s weight of 1.9 tonnes is evenly loaded across the structure of the car and its battery pack, which gives a more balanced car that handles even smaller rural roads well when cornering. Towing ability is poor at 750kg. While that is typical for many BEVs, it’s not particularly impressing me either.

The car comes with plenty of safety kit, including the latest Toyota Safety Sense system, with lots of parking sensors and cameras on board.

There’s a sharp response reversing braking system, so be prepared for it in advance of the parking sensor sounds being heard.

The entry prices for the single model Toyota bZ4W Sport grade start at €42,950, or £42,860 in Northern Ireland, as Toyota Ireland has dropped the price by about €5,000 since its initial introduction. It’s not the best of news for existing owners and that’s part of the reason for the decline in new electric car sales.

Ownership costs

That’s also partly why it is difficult to calculate the three-year ownership costs because we don’t know what the depreciation levels will be just yet.

We know based on the price drop that they will be at least double the price drop – that’s a hefty €10,000 cost over two years.

Overall, the Toyota b4ZX is a very solid electric car that’s enjoyable to drive.

The dash layout of the Toyota bZ4X is very modern with a distance from the steering wheel to the information panel for speed, etc. There’s a large centre screen that jumps out at you and could be a distraction.

It’s spacious and comes with boot storage space. It’s priced well relative to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its related Subaru Solterra. It just needs more range to be an option for rural drivers.

  • Toyota’s first battery electric car.
  • Real range: 400km
  • Eight-year battery warranty.
  • High safety rating.
  • High electric car depreciation rates.