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More details: Spruce-up for Toyota Prius

Tweaked Toyota: Upgraded Prius brings new-look front-end styling but no increase in efficiency.

Midlife facelift time for world’s best-selling hybrid as Toyota announces 2012 Prius

24 Sep 2011

TOYOTA has announced full details of its new-look 2012 Prius up to six months before the midlife facelift for the world’s best-selling hybrid becomes available in Australia.

Released in the US on September 16 following its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show on September 13, the first upgrade for the third-generation Prius that went on sale here in July 2009 brings revised frontal styling and extra standard equipment, but no increase in efficiency.

Toyota Australia has confirmed to GoAuto that the cosmetic upgrades – including updated headlights and tail-lights, a new grille and front bumper, and LED daytime running lights for most variants – will apply to the 2012 version that will be released here in the first quarter of next year.

However, the pioneering petrol-electric model’s fuel consumption remains unchanged at 3.9L/100km, meaning the Prius continues to be less fuel-efficient than conventional diesel-powered Europeans including Ford’s benchmark-setting Fiesta Econetic light hatch (3.7L/100km) and Volkswagen’s Golf BlueMotion small hatch (3.8L/100km).

It remains to be seen how much of the extra standard features announced for North America will be made available in Australia, where just two Prius models are available.

Currently opening the range here is the base Prius at $34,990 plus on-road costs (following a $6000 price cut in April), while the flagship Prius i-Tech costs $45,990 plus ORCs - $7500 less than in April.

Five Prius variants are sold in the US, where more than a million examples have found homes since 2000 - almost half the global total of 2.3 million since 1997.

North America’s entry-level ‘Prius One’ brings no extra standard features, the Prius Two gains new 15-inch wheel covers and LED running lights, Prius Three buyers score keyless entry/starting and the Prius Four now offers auto on/off headlights, eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment and new ‘SofTex’ seat trim.

All Prius models in Australia already come with 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/starting and eight speakers, however, most 2012 US models also receive infotainment upgrades.

Prius Two features a new Display Audio touch-screen system with 6.1-inch screen, six speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth/USB/aux-in connectivity and audio streaming.

8 center imagePrius Three adds satellite-navigation and a reversing camera (both of which are optional on the base Prius and standard on the Prius i-Tech here), while North America’s Prius Four gains eight JBL GreenEdge speakers and an eight-channel JBL amplifier, plus the Deluxe Solar Roof Package, which is standard in Australia’s Prius i-Tech.

Also like Australia’s Prius i-Tech, North America’s top-shelf Prius Five offers the Premium HDD Navigation System with seven-inch screen, Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Pre-Collision System. Our flagship Prius also comes standard with an automatic parallel parking system, while the US Prius Five adds Lane Keeping Assist.

In the US, where the i-Tech’s standard radar-based cruise control and Lexus-pioneered Touch Tracer system are options, a dealer-fitted Plus Performance accessory package for the 2012 Prius includes a seven-component sports bodykit, lowered and firmer springs, 17-inch tyres and a revised rear stabiliser bar.

Power continues to come from a 74kW 1.8-litre Atkinson Cycle engine which when combined with an electric motor can produce up to 100kW.

Alongside the facelifted the facelifted Prius at Frankfurt, Toyota presented the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which features all of the cosmetic upgrades of the 2012 model and is now on sale in 14 US states before it becomes available to order nation-wide in 2013.

Reflecting its position at the top of the Prius tree, the plug-in version is available in two specification grades, starting at $US32,000 and extending to $39,525 for the Prius Plug-In Hybrid Advanced flagship, which comes standard with all the features listed above. Both Prius Plug-in models are expected to qualify for a $US2500 federal tax credit.

Toyota said the Prius Plug-In will be priced from below €37,000 in Germany, where it and the Prius+ will go on sale in the first half of next year.

As we’ve reported, the Prius Plug-In has been approved for sale in the US and Europe, where its externally rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack gives it an EU fuel consumption rating of just 2.1L/100km, CO2 emissions of only 49g/km (down from 89g/km for the regular Prius) and an electric-only driving range of 23km – up from 2km.

However, while the smaller Prius-C city-hatch is confirmed to hit Australian showrooms alongside the facelifted Prius hatch early next year, the plug-in Prius remains under consideration for release here - as do both the five-seater Prius-V and seven-seat Prius+ people-movers.

While the Prius+ emits 99g/km and employs the same nickel-metal hydride battery as the regular Prius, the Prius-V employs more compact but more expensive lithium-ion batteries, liberating the extra space required for the third row of seats and making it the first mass-produced Toyota to use Li-Ion battery technology.

Like all of Toyota’s petrol-electric hybrids, the Prius, Prius-C, Prius-V, Prius+ and Prius Plug-In emit no particulate matter and almost no NOx.

Prius sales have plummeted to just 452 so far this year in Australia, representing a 65 per cent decline on 2010, when Toyota sold only 1611 examples – just over a third of its 4500 sales target for that year and down 47 per cent on the 3040 sold in 2009.

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