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Aussie Prius details emerge

Out and about: The new Toyota Prius boasts industry-leading low carbon emissions.

Full specifications revealed for Toyota’s redesigned Prius ahead of July release

18 Jun 2009

GOAUTO has obtained full Australian specifications for the all-new Prius more than two weeks before it is officially launched here, leaving pricing as the only unanswered question surrounding the third generation of Toyota’s hybrid icon.

Two variants of the new Prius will again be offered, with the flagship version once again dubbed i-Tech. The MkII Prius i-Tech was last sold at $46,900, representing a $9500 premium over the current Prius, which is priced at $37,400.

All examples of the new Prius will come with Toyota’s upgraded petrol-electric Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which is claimed to be 90 per cent new and comprises a larger petrol engine assisted by an upgraded 60kW/207Nm electric motor via an electronic constantly variable transmission (CVT).

8 center imageStandard equipment across the range will include 15x6.0-inch alloy wheels with 195/65-section low-rolling resistance tyres, seven airbags (two front, two front-side, two full-length curtains and a driver’s knee airbag), active front head restraints, electronic traction and stability control, keyless entry and starting, power windows, power driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, remote steering wheel controls for air-conditioning, audio and telephone, a head-up display, multi-information display with “world-first Touch Tracer” function and an eight-speaker sound system.

An optional ‘Navigation’ pack comprises a seven-inch Audio Visual Navigation (AVN) screen, a DVD-based satellite-navigation system and Intelligent Park Assist (IPA) with rear guide assist.

Those features are standard in the Prius i-Tech, whose standard equipment list also adds LED low-beam headlights, self-levelling headlights, pop-up headlight washers, dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-crash safety system, a sunroof with solar cells, leather-clad seats, door trims and steering wheel, heated front seats, an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, a climate-control system with remote air-conditioning feature and a tyre repair kit instead of the regular Prius’ space-saver temporary spare wheel.

As previously revealed, the new Prius is powered by a larger, more powerful yet more economical 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (up from 1.5-litre in the MkII), but we can reveal the Australian version will require a diet of 95 RON premium unleaded petrol to produce 73kW at 5200rpm and 142Nm of torque at 4000rpm (up from 56kW/110Nm), for a total system output of 100kW (up 21 per cent).

Our Prius will match the European version in returning combined average (ADR 81/02) fuel consumption of 3.9 litres per 100km (L/100km) and CO2 emissions of just 89 grams per kilometre (g/km), making it “the cleanest production car sold in Australia”.

While average fuel economy of 3.9L/100km (down 11.3 per cent from 4.4L/100km for the outgoing Prius) matches that of the new Mini Cooper D turbo-diesel, the Prius is the only new vehicle to produce less than 100g/km. Interestingly, the average city-cycle figure is the same 3.9L/100km, while the official extra-urban figure drops to 3.7L/100km.

At the same time, the slightly larger MkIII Prius is said to be quicker, with the claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time reducing from 10.8 to 10.4 seconds.

New technologies include a head-up display that projects vehicle speed and other information on to the windscreen, plus the ‘Touch Tracer’ system that displays a duplicate read-out of audio and other information on the instrument panel when selected via the steering wheel hub.

As previously reported, the new Prius is also claimed to feature the world’s first automotive application of injection-moulded material derived from plants, which is employed in areas such as the driver’s seat cushion, while a Multi-Information Display continues to monitor fuel and energy consumption.

Another Toyota first is the belt-free petrol engine, which incorporates electrically operated power steering and water pumps to lower fuel consumption, while a new exhaust gas recirculation system results in quicker engine and cabin heater warm-up.

Exclusive to the i-Tech Prius are sunroof-mounted solar panels that generate up to 59 Watts of electricity to run a fan that cools the interior when the car is parked, with a remote air-condition function accessed via an ‘A/C’ button on the key fob.

The i-Tech also features a pre-crash system that uses millimetre wave radar to alert the driver, provide additional braking assistance and activate the seatbelt pre-tensioners if there is a high possibility of a collision, while ‘Dynamic Radar Cruise Control’ governs speed to maintain a pre-selected distance from the vehicle in front.

Standard on the i-Tech and optional on the entry-level Prius will be a rear-view camera in conjunction with the AVN satellite-navigation system, as well as the IPA park assist system, which helps Prius drivers in both parallel and 90-degree reverse parking situations.

Another new development for the Prius is a smaller, lighter gear-driven hybrid transaxle that can handle higher torque loads than the chain-driven unit it replaces.

The output of the new Prius’ “proven and reliable” nickel-metal hydride battery pack has increased due to improved cooling, while a new direct cooling system also reduces by about one-third the size and weight of the inverter, which converts direct electric current into alternating current.

The MkIII Prius comes with three new driver-controlled modes: EV (electric vehicle), in which the vehicle can be driven on electric-only power at speeds of up to about 50km/h for one or two kilometres ECO, in which throttle mapping prioritises fuel economy and the air-conditioning is strictly controlled and Power, which delivers maximum acceleration and response.

Instantly recognisable as a Prius, the new five-door hatchback has an improved drag coefficient of 0.25Cd (down from 0.26Cd, which Toyota says makes it the most aerodynamically efficient car in the world), and is 15mm longer (4450mm) and 20mm wider (1745mm) overall despite riding on the same 2700mm wheelbase as before. Overall height is unchanged at 1490mm.

Based on a new platform, the fresh bodyshell’s more pronounced wedge shape is also claimed to increase rear headroom by 15mm, while a new ‘flying buttress’ centre console design is complemented by extra storage space under the drive-by-wire gearshifter, a wider and more liberally-padded driver’s seat base and 30mm-thinner contoured front seatbacks that deliver improved rear legroom. Front seat height and fore-aft adjustment also increases.

The electric rack-and-pinion power steering system requires some 3.7 turns lock to lock and returns a tight 10.4-metres turning circle.

Total cargo capacity increases by 30 litres to 445 litres – enough to accommodate three golf bags, while kerb weigh increases by at least 50kg, despite the use of an aluminium bonnet, hatch and front anti-roll bar, plus super high-strength steel pillar and roof reinforcements – to between 1370kg and 1420kg.

The MkIII Prius will be officially launched in Australia on July 6 and goes on sale on August 1 in the UK, where four equipment specifications will be available (including a 17-inch wheel option) at unchanged prices.

The new Prius defeated Honda’s Insight hybrid to become Japan’s top-selling vehicle in May, when it found 10,915 buyers in its first month on sale there. As a result, Prius production is now at full capacity in Japan, where attractive new government incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles have helped drive sales.

Globally, Prius sales have topped 12.5 million since 1997, including more than 12,500 in Australia. Toyota expects to sell 600,000 examples of the new Prius per annum.

Read more:

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