New Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept previews key 2023 launch

5 Dec 2022

The Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept previews a new mid-size SUV that will be launched next year as part of a major expansion of the firm's electric line-up.

The new machine will be the second model in the Japanese firm's bZ (Beyond Zero) line-up of bespoke electric vehicles, following the larger bZ4X SUV. The concept was first shown at the Los Angeles motor show last month, but Toyota has now given more details about the car.

Insight: Toyota is upping its EV ambitions (but hasn't given up on other powertrain technology)

The bZ Compact SUV Concept was designed by Toyota's European design studio, and takes the form of a coupe-SUV, with proportions similar to the existing combustion-engined C-HR. Toyota says that concept showcases a ‘clean-vital’ design language.

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The similarity to the C-HR is clearly not by accident. In fact, Toyota has now revealed a C-HR Prologue that previews the second-generation of that machine, which will continue to be offered with hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The bZ Compact SUV Concept and C-HR Prologue were developed by the same design team, and that shows: they both follow similar design trends. Which makes sense given the popularity of the C-HR and the rapid growth of the C-segment SUV – thanks medium-sized SUV – market.

On the bZ concept, the wheels have been pushed to the edges of the car giving short overhangs, while Toyota hints that the model’s lines have been developed with an aerodynamic focus in order to boost efficiency.

While the exterior closely previews what the production machine due to arrive next year will look like, the interior is far more concept car. It's dominated by a large horizontally-mounted touchscreen, which unusually curves as it meets the lip of the dash. 

There's also a large digital info display that pops up from the dashboard. Notably, the steering wheel is shaped more like a yoke, perhaps suggesting the machine could potentially offer the steer-by-wire technology that is being introduced on the larger Toyota bZ4X and closely related Lexus RZ 450e.

The machine features an in-car personal assistant called Yoi, which is designed to 'connect' the driver and passengers with the vehicle. It can be controlled by anyone in the car, and there are audio and lighting cues fitted so you know who's in control. For example, if the driver is operating Yea a small dome on the dashboard lights up. If the passenger takes over, a row of lights on the centre console points to them.

Lexus RZ 450e prototype review: we test steer-by-wire system

Toyota also says that the machine features extensive use of "low-impact" sustainable materials, including seats made from plant-based and recycled materials.

Toyota has still given no indication of the powertrain or other technical details of the new concept, or given any indication of when a production car based on it might follow. It added that further information will be revealed next month.


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