A sporty bZ4X fettled by Gazoo Racing could be in the cards.
If the goal is to beat a Tesla in a drag race, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X is not the tool for the job. Toyota's first mass-market EV only produces 201 horsepower in front-wheel-drive form, and a slightly more impressive 214 hp when optioned with dual motors and all-wheel-drive. We wouldn't call the bZ4X a great starting point for a sporty model, but that hasn't stopped Toyota's Gazoo Racing department from experimenting with it.
Earlier this year, Toyota teased a performance-themed bZ4X GR Sport Concept at the Tokyo Auto Salon. According to Move Electric, the Japanese automaker is currently working on how to take the concept to the next step. "We are talking with the GR guys, but it's still not a concrete idea yet," said bZ4X chief engineer Daisuke Ido.
Ido says the most glaring challenge is not creating enough power, but making the bZ4X handle like a GR model should. "That is a challenge, always," Ido explained. "We can control any profile with a battery EV, so the feeling is very important, and we have to work out how to offer a higher power with the same mechanism. That's the challenge."
Creating more power shouldn't be that difficult as the Lexus RZ 450e that uses the same platform produces 308 hp from its dual electric motors. Toyota could potentially push the output even further by offering two 150-kW motors from the FWD version, equaling a little over 400 hp. This sounds like an easy move, but the bZ4X's range is already pretty short at around 222 miles. Adding beefier motors would only drain the battery quicker.
Even if Toyota could give the bZ4X more power and significantly improve the handling, we still aren't sure it would make the ideal GR product. bZ4X is already a lot of letters to start with, so adding GR at the beginning would make the name way too long to say. Perhaps a future bZ model would be a better starting place for such a model?
"With the E-TNGA platform for the bZ series we can offer some variety, and a wide range of products - maybe some sporty types of car, or maybe a big car for facilities," said Ido. "That's not saying we will do those - that's just my imagination for now."