Toyota today is trying to shake off the image of being a manufacturer that makes dull cars by allowing its GR division to make some of its models more exciting, and the bZ4X EV might be next on the list for a sporty makeover. Lending credence to this news is the fact that it was revealed by someone with intimate knowledge of the project, Daisuke Ido, the chief engineer for the bZ4X.
GR (short for Gazoo Racing) has worked wonders on the Toyota Yaris, turning it into the darling of every single motoring journalist who drives one. However, for that particular project, there isn’t that much Yaris left, and for the potential bZ4X GR, the transformation would not be as dramatic.
While speaking to Move Electric, Ido said
We are talking with the GR guys, but it's still not a concrete idea yet.
Apparently the main point they are discussing is getting the vehicle to handle like something worthy of the GR badge. Giving it lots of power is the easy part, since it is an EV, but getting it to corner in a Porsche Macan-rivalling manner is a lot more difficult, especially given the weight penalty that electric vehicles have to pay.
Gallery: 2023 Toyota bZ4X in US specification
Ido explained that
That is a challenge, always. 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.
There is no performance version of the bZ4X currently available - you can either opt for the 204 horsepower front-wheel drive model or the ever so slightly more powerful 218 horsepower all-wheel drive version. Interestingly, the FWD bZ4X has a single motor that makes almost as much power as the dual-motor in the AWD, so the logical step for Toyota to take, at least when it comes to power, would be the give the hot version two of the more powerful motors, giving the vehicle 408 horsepower.
No time frame for its release was mentioned but Toyota did show off the bZ4X GR Sport Concept (pictured) at the Tokyo motor show earlier this year, but that was only revealed to show what it might look like; the manufacturer did not mention its specs at the time.