Great UK attractions with EV charging points

Toyota bZ4X

Toyota has just launched the bZ4X – it’s first battery electric vehicle – and to celebrate it’s compiled a list of attractions that provide EV car chargers on-site, or nearby. 

The Toyota bZ4X SUV is a fab option for a zero-emission journey, offering a driving range of up to 317 miles with the front-wheel drive option, and up to 286 miles with all-wheel drive.

Whether you’re planning a weekend trip, or a school holiday road trip, many of the following theme parks, museums, beaches, and nature reserves offer EV charging for free, included in the car parking price, so you can enjoy a zero-emission journey to your chosen venue, then plug in and enjoy your day.

England

  1. Diggerland, Langley Park, Durham

You might say you’re visiting Diggerland to treat the kids, but it’s hard to resist getting behind the wheel of a full-size construction digger, tractor or dumper, or taking a whirl on the huge digger bucket of the ‘Spindizzy’ ride.
The EV charging station is free for visitors with BEV or plug in hybrid cars. There are also Diggerlands in Kent, Devon and West Yorkshire, which all offer EV charging too.

  1. Thorpe Park, Chertsey, Surrey

Home to the world’s first ten-loop rollercoaster and the new Stealth rollercoaster, which is the UK’s fastest ride, reaching 0–80mph in under two seconds, Thorpe Park is a must for adrenaline thrills. Access to four EV chargers is included in the car park price.

  1. Sundown Adventureland, Rampton, Nottinghamshire

A theme park designed especially for under-10s, Sundown Adventureland has over 20 rides and attractions, including a sing-along show, candy castle and lots of play areas. To make a weekend of it, book a glamping cabin at the new Wild Acre Village.
There are six EV chargers in the car park, which can be accessed via the CityEV Opencard app.

  1. RHS Garden Bridgewater, Worsley, Manchester

Set on the former site of historic Worsley New Hall, which was visited by Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, the 154-acre RHS Bridgewater is one of Europe’s most ambitious garden restoration projects. It is divided into multiple zones, such as the tranquil Chinese Garden, wild Ellesmere Lake, and the colourful Paradise Garden.
There are three EV charging stations, with space for six cars, provided by EV Charge Online.

  1. Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire

From its white-knuckle rollercoasters and spooky ‘Pasaje del Terror’ interactive horror show, to the seaside slot machines, crazy golf and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has attractions to amuse all the family. There are also live entertainment nights too.
There are two 7kW charging bays in the Balmoral Road car park, provided by pod POINT.

  1. Brockhole, Lake Windermere, Lake District

Overlooking Lake Windermere, Brockhole outdoor activity centre offers an adventure playground, go-carts, archery and mini-golf. You can hire kayaks, paddleboards or a motorboat to explore the water, or can follow the whimsical Faerie Trail through the forest.
Profits from the EV car chargers are used to conserve the Lake District National Park.

  1. RSPB Minsmere, Saxmundham, Suffolk

On a peaceful stretch of the Suffolk coastline, RSPB Minsmere is a haven for migrating birds, and has seven ‘hides’ from which to see them. It’s ideal for a soul-soothing day out in nature, spotting birds such as marsh harriers, nightingales, avocets and nightingales.
The reserve’s EV charger can be pre-booked by phone.

  1. The Wave, Easter Compton, Bristol

The Wave has to be seen to be believed: it’s a huge 180-metre inland pool, that generates perfect surf waves, with crystal-clear water and plenty of space for everyone. Up to 1,000 waves can be generated per hour, ranging from 50cm in height for beginners, to two metres for experts. Tuition is available for all ages and abilities, with wetsuits and board hire included in the entry price.
The two 7kW EV charging points in the car park are available for free, on a first come, first served basis.

Scotland

V&A Dundee

The V&A Dundee is Scotland’s design museum and explores the country’s design heritage.  It’s curved concrete walls create the impression of a Scottish cliff face and are a striking addition to Dundee’s waterfront., having been designed by celebrated Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. Inside, the Scottish Galleries are filled with home-grown fashion, furniture, and jewellery, and there’s also an impressive schedule of exhibitions. The museum shop sells a selection of creative gifts, books, prints, stationery and jewellery, with proceeds helping to support the museum.
There is an Urban Electric charging station at Earl Grey Place West, just a two-minute walk from the museum. 

  1. Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, Drumnadrochit

Catch a glimpse of Scotland’s most mysterious monster at the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, which features photographs of Nessie ‘sightings’, underwater footage, and insights into the area’s remarkable geology.  You can also take a loch cruise on a monster-spotting boat.
There are rapid EV chargers in the Drumnadrochit tourist information car park, which is part of the ChargePlace Scotland EV charging network.

  1. Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan

From Australian eucalyptus and New Zealand ferns, to Chilean palm trees and South African lilies, Logan Botanic Garden is filled with plants from all over the world, which thrive thanks to the warm microclimate of south-western Scotland.  There is a walled garden, woodlands and a huge Victorian-style conservatory to explore.
The car park offers four free EV chargers.

Wales

  1. The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Machynlleth

With its thriving organic gardens, cutting-edge sustainable buildings and woodlands full of birdsong, CAT is a vision of an eco-friendly future. Join a hands-on workshop, learn how to grow your own veggies, or simply enjoy a walk in the beautiful grounds.
There is a 32 amp Type 2 charging station in the car park, which is free for visitors.

  1. Penbryn Beach, Cardigan Bay

One of the loveliest golden, sandy beaches on Wales’s west coast, Penbryn is ideal for sunny picnics, sandcastles and family-friendly paddling. It’s also a great location for stargazing at night.  You reach the beach by meandering through woods, with amazing views of Cardigan Bay. It is run by the National Trust, and offers wheelchair access, a café, and a 7kW EV charger in the car park.

  1. Elan Valley Visitor Centre, Rhayader, Mid Wales

With its wildlife-rich woodlands, surrounding Cambrian mountains, dams and reservoirs, the Elan Valley is a haven for walking, cycling and fishing. Bikes are available to hire from the visitor centre, where there are two ZeroNet EV chargers, with cost of charging included in the £3 parking fee.

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