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Frankfurt show: Toyota sharpens Prius

Green and gold: The fourth-generation Toyota Prius gets an all-new look and will arrive in Australia early next year.

Toyota's Prius comes in for a full change using new global architecture

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Toyota logo9 Sep 2015

TOYOTA has ripped the covers off its all-important fourth-generation Prius hybrid hero that introduces the Japanese giant's new lightweight architecture, while promising “significant improvements” to fuel economy.

The all-new Prius was revealed at an event in Las Vegas, ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show next week and an Australian on-sale date in early 2016.

It will be underpinned by Toyota's New Generation Architecture (TNGA) that will eventually form the basis of more than half of its models, including some Lexus models, by 2020.

The new platform is stiffer, according to Toyota, and is “at the heart” of the the major changes and improvements to the new model, including greater occupant protection and a more responsive driving experience.

The Japanese car-maker also says that the engine powering the hybrid hatch is the most thermally efficient petrol engine in the world at 40 per cent, thanks to the use of new or significantly updated components that were “effectively blueprinted to the finest limits and tolerances”.

While Toyota is yet to reveal the fuel economy figure of the new-gen Prius, it is expected to better the third-gen model that sips 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, by about 15 per cent.

The size and weight of some major hybrid components has been reduced, while the company says that a lower centre of gravity, a new double wishbone rear suspension set-up and a more rigid body make for a better driving experience.

According to Toyota, the new suspension set-up ensures a better connection to the road, greater control and feedback, while the body helps improve responsiveness without impacting ride quality. The latest iteration of the Prius is 60mm longer, 20mm lower and 15mm wider than the outgoing model, ensuring more cargo space and cabin room.

Toyota has gone for a bold look for the new Prius, and while it is not directly related to its Mirai fuel-cell-powered stablemate, the environmentally friendly pair do have a similar design theme.

The Prius has sharp lines and angles, and while it carries a similar shape and profile to its predecessor, the new version carries dramatic front-end styling with angled, high-sitting headlights that look almost pinched.

At the rear the drama continues, with the long tail-lights marking a big departure from the previous two generations units, while the split dual-glass tailgate has been updated for the 2016 version.

Toyota says its designers embraced the concept of “Iconic Human-tech” to meld the sharp edges with flowing curves, benefiting aerodynamics, while the bonnet is lower.

A new Emotional Red body colour and the placement of the Toyota badge on the front grille at exactly the same height as the 86 sportscar accentuates the Prius' sporty theme, according to Toyota.

Toyota has brought the cabin right up to date, with the centre-mounted instrument cluster the only obvious Prius feature to be carried over.

Elsewhere, designers have created a modern-looking interior space with a wrap-around cockpit featuring integrated door and dash panels, a dominant display screen in the centre stack, some contrasting white plastics and a new gear lever that juts out from the lower stack.

A full features list is yet to be announced, but Toyota says to expect safety and driver aids such as a pre-collision system, lane-departure warning, auto high beam and adaptive cruise control.

More details, including powertrain details and performance and fuel economy figures should be announced either at Frankfurt or later in the year.

Toyota Motor Corporation Prius global chief engineer Kouji Toyoshima said the new model offers a more emotional design and engaging drive than before.

“There is much more to the new Prius than a green image,” he said. “From the bold design to the quality interior, the Prius has never had such a powerful presence.”“We have developed an even-better Prius by expanding its environmentally sensitive DNA while ramping up its desirability with an emotional design and an engaging drive. It offers a new perspective of what a hybrid can be.” The current Prius went on sale in Australia in mid-2009 and is priced from $32,490 plus on-road costs for the base variant and $43,990 for the range-topping i-Tech. The Pruis C light car joined the family in March 2012, while the Prius V seven-seat MPV arrived in May 2012.

More than 3.5 million Prius' have been sold globally since it made its debut back in 1997.

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