by Karl Furlong
Toyota is in need of a larger lineup of electric vehicles, something it is aware of as it plans to launch 10 new EVs by 2026. One of those will be this, a smaller and more youthful alternative to the bZ4X that will likely take on the bZ3X name. With styling based on the bZ Compact SUV Concept, the bZ3X is best thought of as an electric C-HR. It will come with more obviously coupe-like styling and will probably sacrifice some range and power in an effort to keep the price down. If it doesn't change much from the concept, the bZ3X will also have one of Toyota's most futuristic interiors yet.
An official release date for the Toyota bZ3X hasn't been shared just yet. However, a Toyota dealer in Santa Monica says that the bZ3X will be coming out soon, and as a 2024 model, we may just see an official reveal before the end of 2023 in the USA.
Positioned below the bZ4X, we can reasonably expect the price of the 2024 Toyota bZ3X to be less than that car. The 2023 bZ4X has a starting price of $42,000, so we expect the bZ4X to begin at a cost of around $38,000. We found the bZ4X to be a bit expensive considering its performance relative to rivals, but hopefully, the bZ3X will be a better value proposition.
That price would see the bZ3X overlap with the upper trims of the smaller Hyundai Kona Electric. Other rivals at this price point would include the Volkswagen ID.4, which carries a base MSRP of $38,995.
Assuming that the exterior design of the Toyota bZ3X SUV is based on the bZ Compact SUV Concept, this looks like it'll be one of the more adventurously styled vehicles in Toyota's range.
The wheels of the bZ3X have been pushed as far as possible into the corners to give the crossover a more aggressive stance, while the short overhangs are also noticeable. The angular front lighting wraps around and extends deeply into the hood, and unlike on the bZ4X, this concept does without the black wheel arches - and is all the better for that. Flush-fitting front door handles and concealed rear handles help not to disrupt the side view, which is characterized by prominent body creases.
At the back, there is a full-width taillight that extends deep into the fenders and juts out from the body. Lower black detailing and a black roof and pillars contrast quite nicely with the paint color. That said, we don't know what the full range of Toyota bZ3X colors will be. If it mirrors the bZ4X, we'll see shades like Wind Chill Pearl, Elemental Silver Metallic, Heavy Metal, Supersonic Red, and Black.
Although the concept has 21-inch wheels, we expect the production bZ3X to come with smaller standard wheels and for some of the more extreme design elements to be toned down.
The dimensions of the Toyota bZ3X hint at quite a small vehicle with a minimal footprint - at least as far as the concept is concerned. The concept has a length of 178.7 inches, a height of 61.4 inches, and a width of 74.3 inches, excluding the mirrors. By comparison, the bZ4X is around six inches longer and over 3.5 inches taller.
A starting curb weight of around 4,000 pounds for the front-wheel-drive model seems accurate since the larger bZ4X starts at 4,266 lbs.
We don't expect the bZ3X to be more powerful than the bZ4X. The latter starts with a front-wheel-drive, single-motor variant that makes 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. In the presumably lighter bZ3X, the 0-60 mph time should be just under seven seconds or so.
With all-wheel drive and dual motors, the bZ4X is only marginally more powerful with 214 hp and 124 lb-ft from each motor. With this higher-output powertrain in the Toyota bZ3X, the 0-60 sprint will be closer to six seconds.
The bZ3X should ride on the same e-TNGA platform as the bZ4X. Although it probably won't be the most engaging vehicle to drive, we expect a good mix of sharp handling with a refined ride.
The bZ4X's range varies between 222 and 252 miles depending on the trim, which is not exactly class-leading. If the bZ3X has the same 71.4-kWh battery, it should be capable of a better range, but no battery specs have been shared just yet.
Peak charging speeds for the bZ4X also lags behind the best at 150 kW for the FWD model and 100 kW for the AWD version, so we wouldn't expect the bZ3X to be much better in this regard. That said, the relatively small battery will be capable of being replenished from a low level to 80% in around 30 minutes with DC fast charging.
Once again, we have to look at the concept to get an idea of what the interior of the Toyota bZ3X will be like. Not much inside looks like it will make it to production, as this is still a highly experimental space. For starters, the steering wheel is a yoke-like design but is unusually broad and rectangular in shape. The digital driver's display and center display are both physically curved at the bottom, and besides being quite interesting to look at, it's unclear what the advantage is to this design; on the center interface, it could possibly make it easier to tap some controls on the flatter, bottom edge of the screen.
There is a floating center section that houses the drive selector, and even traditional door and window controls have been replaced to give the cabin an almost completely button-free layout.
As for the seats in the Toyota bZ3X, it may get the same plant-based upholstery of the concept. More likely upholstery choices will be the mix of fabric and SofTex found in the bZ4X, the latter being Toyota's version of imitation leather.
We expect the interior to have enough space for four occupants and five at a pinch, while all the latest connectivity features should be equipped as standard. In the concept, Toyota made mention of an advanced in-car personal assistant that communicates with occupants via various visual and audio lighting cues.
Considering its smaller size, the cargo space in the Toyota bZ3X likely won't match its bZ4X sibling. The C-HR only has 19.1 cubic feet of volume behind its second row, and we wouldn't be surprised if the bZ3X has a similar amount of trunk space.
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