Toyota bZ4X review

Toyota bZ4X review

It’s fair to say that Toyota is a little late to the EV party. Despite the fact that it was a hybrid technology pioneer 25 years ago with the Prius, it’s taken until 2022 for the Japanese giant to launch its first pure electric car in Europe.

So, I guess the big question is – has it been worth the wait? Before I attempt to answer that, let’s deal with the baby elephant in the room – how did it end up with a name like the bZ4X?

Well, to put it simply, it’s the first model in Toyota’s “Beyond Zero” family of zero emission battery electric vehicles, while the ‘4’ references the size of the car (mid-sized) and ‘X’ denotes it’s a 4×4 crossover/SUV.

Toyota bZ4X review

Slightly longer, lower and wider than a RAV4, the bZ4X has been co-developed with Subaru (its version is called the Solterra) and it’s available with front or four-wheel drive.

Your choice of drive will have an impact on your car’s performance and range. The FWD version (201bhp) offers up to 317 miles of range and a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds, while the 4×4 option (215bhp) has a lower range of about 286 miles, but is quicker off the mark (6.9 seconds).

Priced from £41,000, Toyota’s is going big on peace of mind, also offering the bZ4X via an intriguing new, all-inclusive monthly leasing scheme that covers the vehicle, maintenance, wall box charger and access to connected services.

Toyota bZ4X review

Meanwhile, the battery is supported by an optional extended care programme for owners, guaranteeing battery capacity of 70% after 10 years or 1,000,000km (620,000 miles) driven.

The bZ4X also benefits from Toyota’s standard Relax warranty which covers your vehicle for 10 years (up to 100,000 miles), provided your car is serviced by a Toyota dealer.

Talking of the battery, the bZ4X’s 71.4kWh pack can be charged from 0-80% in around 30 minutes using a rapid 150kWh charger.

Toyota bZ4X review

Four trims are offered, including entry-level ‘Pure’, which comes with goodies such as 18-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera and smart entry.

‘Motion’ models look sportier thanks to big 20-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows and roof spoiler, while kit includes heated seats, wireless phone charging and a panoramic glass roof.

‘Vision’ is next up with standard equipment that includes heated and cooled front seats, a digital key that means you can open and start the car with your phone and synthetic leather upholstery.

Toyota bZ4X review

We tested the top-of-the range Premier Edition model which comes with four-wheel drive as standard, plus a nine-speaker JBL sound system, and is priced from £51,550.

At first glance, the bZ4X looks like a sleeker, more futuristic RAV4. Get up closer and the design is more complex with an accent on aerodynamics in order to reduce drag and maximise range.

Inside, there’s a real feeling of space, light and visibility. Up front there’s a new driver-focused set-up with a low steering wheel and a 7.0-inch digital display which sits directly in the driver’s forward eyeline. Not quite as radical as Peugeot’s i-Cockpit, but still a change which works surprisingly well once you get used to it.

Toyota bZ4X review

Praise too for the 12.3-inch touchscreen in the centre console. Slick with crisp graphics, thankfully Toyota hasn’t completely forsaken traditional buttons, so there’s less need to take your eyes off the road while you swipe through menus to access key functions.

It’s just a shame that there were some hard plastics used high up in the cabin, while the driver’s instrument binnacle structure is a fairly flimsy affair.

On the plus side, there’s stacks of space in the back for passengers, while the boot has a useful 452-litre luggage capacity, though sadly there’s no space for a frunk in the “engine bay” to store your cables.

The first thing you notice on the road is the smooth ride and the refinement inside the cabin.

Toyota bZ4X review

Just like all EVs, there’s plenty of instant torque available. However, the acceleration is perfectly pitched if you floor it, rather than gut-wrenching like some rivals.

There’s a little body roll on more challenging corners, but then the bZ4X is more comfortable cruiser than performance SUV. No complaints about grip and traction either.

It’s easy to drive and Toyota has tried to make it as simple as possible with its automatic brake regeneration (a system that recharges the battery by harvesting power otherwise wasted during deceleration).

Toyota bZ4X review

Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I prefer the ability to adjust regen settings manually (as is more often the case). Weirdly, the Subaru Solterra includes just such a feature.

Our test car came equipped with the X-Mode four-wheel drive system which has settings for snow/mud; deep snow and mud and Grip Control for tougher off-road driving (below 6mph), so it should be able to cope on those few days of the year when extreme weather makes the headlines.

We went through various exercises to test its off-road capability and it passed with flying colours. Few bZ4X owners will ever stretch it to its limits, but there’s a hill-descent control, low-speed crawl control and it can wade through a depth of 500mm.

Toyota bZ4X review

Any more gripes? Well yes, just a couple. There’s no glovebox and far more annoyingly, no rear wiper (it’s been sacrificed on the altar of aerodynamic efficiency).

Oh, and in answer to the question I posed way back at the beginning of this article. Yes, the bZ4X has been worth the wait.

Rivals include everything from the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Skoda Enyaq iV and Audi Q4 e-tron to the Volkswagen ID.4,Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Verdict: The all-new Toyota bZ4X is a welcome addition to the long-range electric SUV scene – smooth, spacious and surprisingly capable, it’s the peace of mind choice.

Toyota UK

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

We road test the award-winning electric vehicle that instantly dates just about every other car on the road…

It’s difficult to know where to start with a car like the acclaimed Hyundai Ioniq 5. Already the winner of various Car of the Year titles, this futuristically styled EV features state-of-the-art technology and looks like nothing else on the road.

Hyundai may not thank me for it, but I’m going to start by pointing out that the Ioniq 5 shares its Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) with its Korean cousins, the Kia EV6 and the upcoming Genesis GV60.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’d say the retro cool Ioniq 5 is easily the most distinctive of the trio. Park it next to any other competitor car (eg Volkswagen ID.4, Jaguar I-Pace or Ford Mustang Mach-E) and they look instantly dated.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

Bigger in the metal than I’d expected, it looks like it should be about the size of a VW Golf from the pictures, but it’s actually closer to a Skoda Enyaq iV.

Hyundai markets it as a “midsize CUV”, which is automotive industry speak for a Crossover Utility Vehicle – a blend of hatchback and SUV, for want of a better definition.

Competitively priced from £37,545, there’s a range of battery and motor options available, plus rear or all-wheel drive. Packed with technology and equally futuristic inside, it’s a revelation.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

Able to charge from 10-80% (via an ultra rapid 350kW chargepoint) in as little as 18 minutes and travel up to 298 miles on a charge, it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.2 seconds.

We tested the top-of-the range Ioniq 5 with twin-motor all-wheel drive and the largest battery size available (72.6kWh). Just shy of £50,000, it boasts a combined 301bhp and 446lb ft of torque.

The flush door handles pop out as you walk up to the Ioniq 5. Once inside, the benefits of the car’s larger dimensions and flat floor are obvious – it’s bathed in space and light.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

It’s ultra-modern and minimalist up front, thanks to a two-spoke steering wheel and panoramic twin-screen infotainment and driver’s display set-up.

There’s a sliding centre console incorporating cupholders, small storage areas and a wireless phone charger, while the versatile front seats can be fully reclined.

Comfort is subjective, and though the seats were nicely padded with plenty of adjustment, I just couldn’t get the perfect driving position. Such is the huge amount of cabin space, I felt perched and almost marooned at times.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

The bonus of such a high driving style is that there are no complaints in the visibility department, but ultimately the Ioniq 5 may be fast, but doesn’t feel so sporty.

There’s ample room for rear passengers, while the shallow boot still has a decent 527-litre capacity, expanding to 1,587 litres with the rear seated flipped. You can also store the charging cables in a space under the bonnet.

All versions are loaded with kit. Even the entry-level SE Connect model comes with the dual 12.3-inch screens, the impressive rapid charging capability, wireless smartphone charging, 19-inch alloy wheels and highway drive assist (an advanced version of adaptive cruise control).

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

Move up to Premium for LED headlights, an electric driver’s seat, an electric boot, heated front seats and blind spot monitoring with collision avoidance.

Ultimate adds a head-up display, 20-inch alloys, Bose sound system, rear privacy glass and ventilated front seats.

To get moving, simply choose a gear (the shift stalk is mounted low right on the steering column) and you’re away – and it’s properly quick.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

You can also select Eco, Normal or Sport drive modes and adjust the brake regeneration. The ‘one-pedal’ option enables you to slow down to a halt just by lifting off the accelerator. It’s useful in town, but a little jarring on faster roads, where it’s easier to use the paddles behind the steering wheel for extra regen.

Frankly, Normal will do just fine. Eco is OK for cruising on a motorway or A-road, but a little lifeless otherwise, while Sport is fun for short, battery-draining bursts of fun.

If you’re looking for a comfortable ride, then the Ioniq 5 is the car for you. However, more spirited drivers might find it a little too floaty with rather too much body roll in faster corners.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

That said, there’s plenty of grip and the steering is light and easy, while the brakes are unusually responsive for an EV.

No car is perfect and the Ioniq is no exception. It’s not as dynamic to drive as some rivals, and some of the interior materials could be classier.

The lack of a rear wiper is a bigger issue than it might sound too, especially when it’s raining. I finally lost patience on one motorway journey, stopping the car at a service station to clean the rear window. Also, the steering wheel obscured some of the driver display behind with my set-up.

I tested the car in the winter so the 267-mile range (the AWD in top spec Ultimate trim with 20-inch wheels is 30 miles down on the RWD) was never on, but I’d say up to 240 miles is realistic in those conditions.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

Thankfully, advanced charging ability is the Ioniq 5’s party piece. In theory, it can add 62 miles of range in just five minutes, because it’s one of the few EVs on the market to support both 400V and 800V charging.

Using a more common 50kW charger, you’ll get up to 80% in 50 minutes, while a complete charge on a wall box at home is best done overnight.

Unless you need all-wheel drive, I suspect the sweet spot in the range is the cheaper 72.6kWh single motor version (RWD) with a potential range closer to the claimed 298 miles.

Verdict: The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is smooth, spacious, comfortable and easy to drive. Loaded with state-of-the art technology, it’s a competitively priced family EV that oozes kerb appeal.

Hyundai UK

Kia EV6 crowned Car of the Year

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Kia EV6 - Car of the Year

The game-changing Kia EV6 has been named Europe’s top car at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

Already widely acclaimed, the electric vehicle beat seven other cars that had made it to the final round of the contest.

The 61-member jury, made up of automotive journalists from 23 countries, voted as follows:

  1. Kia EV6 – 279 points
  2. Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric – 265 points
  3. Hyundai Ioniq 5 – 261 points
  4. Peugeot 308 – 191 points
  5. Skoda Enyaq iV – 185 points
  6. Ford Mustang Mach-E – 150 points
  7. Cupra Born – 144 points

“It’s a nice surprise to see the Kia EV6 receive this award,” said the President of the jury, Frank Janssen.

“It was about time that the brand and the group were rewarded, as they have worked so hard on this car. Kia’s pace of progress is really impressive.”

Kia EV6 review

Offering up to 328 miles of range, super-fast charging capability, space, refinement and a class-leading warranty, the boldy styled EV6’s other awards include the What Car? Car of the Year 2022 trophy in January.

A delighted Jason Jeong, President at Kia Europe, added: “The EV6 is truly a landmark development that’s been designed from the outset to make electric mobility fun, convenient and accessible by combining a highly impressive real-world driving range, ultra-fast charging capabilities, a spacious high-tech interior and a truly rewarding driving experience.

“The EV6 is an exciting sign of what’s still to come in our evolving electrified line-up.”

The prestigious Car of the Year award was established in 1964, when the Rover 2000 took top honours. The Toyota Yaris claimed the top prize last year, while the 2019 winner was the pure electric Jaguar I-Pace.

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Skoda Enyaq iV review

Skoda Enyaq iV

Skoda’s first purpose-built electric vehicle is a revelation. In short, the Enyaq iV is the embodiment of the company’s winning blend of space, comfort, economy and value for money.

Closely related to its Volkswagen Group cousin, the ID.4, the Enyaq iV is a big SUV available with either a 62kWh or 82kWh battery, offering claimed ranges of between 256-331 miles.

A tad bigger and better looking than the ID.4, its distinctive design delivers serious road presence and excellent practicality.

Skoda Enyaq iV

Awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP’s vigorous new testing regime, it’s also one of the safest cars on the road.

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB), road-sign recognition, lane-keep assist and cruise control are fitted as standard, along with Isofix points front and rear.

The Enyaq iV 60 uses a 62kWh battery and a 178bhp electric motor, with power fed to the rear wheels, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds and up to 256 miles.

Skoda Enyaq iV

The Enyaq iV 80 has an 82kWh battery and 201bhp electric motor, again driving the rear wheels (331-mile range and 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds), while the four-wheel-drive ’80x’ has two electric motors, delivering 261bhp of power, a 6.9-second 0-62mph time and a range of 303 miles.

Priced from £32,010 (including the £2,500 Government EV grant), it represents fantastic value for money. Inside, there’s bags of room for all the family, lots of clever small storage spaces and a 585-litre boot, expanding to 1,710 litres with the rear seats folded.

There are six different interior trims to choose from, including recycled cloth. Up front it’s minimalist with few buttons. The large touchscreen infotainment display is less fiddly than the ID.4’s and there are piano-style buttons below to shortcut the key functions.

Skoda Enyaq iV

Despite its large dimensions and two-tonne weight, our Skoda Enyaq iV 80 test car didn’t feel like a handful on the road at all.

In fact, it’s more agile than you may expect, no doubt helped by its low-slung batteries and excellent weight distribution.

Effortlessly fast and gloriously refined, the ride is comfortable and there’s little body roll in more challenging corners.

Skoda Enyaq iV

The steering is accurate and nicely weighted, meaning that tighter manoeuvres are easier than you might think. And for a rear-wheel drive car, there’s an impressive amount of grip.

In other words, it is possible to have fun in an Enyaq, especially in Sport mode which gives maximum acceleration and performance. However, on longer cruises, Eco will do just fine as you endeavour to squeeze as many miles out of the battery pack as possible.

Skoda Enyaq iV

Like all EVs, it will charge on the move via regenerative braking (recovering energy otherwise wasted when slowing down or coasting). It can also be charged overnight at home, while a 10-80% charge using a 100kW rapid charger takes just over 30 minutes.

As with all EVs, real-world range will depend on many factors, including the outside temperature and driving style, but we’d say around 275 miles is quite possible in everyday driving.

Verdict: Spacious, comfortable, competitively-priced, well built and a doddle to drive, the all-new Skoda Enyaq iV is a game-changing electric family SUV.

Skoda UK

Skoda Enyaq iV

Skoda Enyaq iV transformed into a Popemobile

Home / Auto News / Skoda Enyaq iV transformed into a Popemobile

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Pope Francis travels in skoda enyaq iv

Pope Francis is being treated to zero emissions travel courtesy of specially converted Skoda Enyaq iV EVs during his visit to Slovakia.

The two pure electric SUVs, plus two smaller Karoqs, were adapted according to the Vatican’s wishes.

To make it easier to see the Pontiff, clear glass windows in the rear of the vehicle have replaced the standard tinted side windows.

Chrome standard holders for the Vatican flag are mounted on the front wing of the passenger side and the official logo of the papal visit can be seen on the exterior mirror housings.

To make exiting the car more comfortable, an additional handle was also added. Additionally, the cars were all painted in black metallic and have black interiors.

This is the second time the head of the Catholic Church has travelled in vehicles from the Czech car manufacturer. Skoda previously provided four Rapid Spacebacks for Pope Francis during his two-day visit to Ireland as part of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018.

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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