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Sleek new Toyota Prius revealed

New Prius unveiled but Australia unlikely to score Toyota’s stylish new hybrid coupe

18 Nov 2022

TOYOTA has lifted the curtain on its fifth-generation Prius hybrid but after retiring the model from the Australian market, presumably for good, it is unlikely we will see the new model Down Under.


Substantial style and design changes, as well as “captivating driving performance” from significantly boosted petrol-electric drivetrains has produced a car that could flip the ‘Prius driver’ stereotype on its head.


The new hybrid system comprises a 2.0- or 1.8-litre petrol engine, electric motor, and lithium-ion batteries offering a total output of up to 164kW (for the larger engine) while maintaining the same fuel efficiency as the outgoing model.


A claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.7 seconds for the 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid variant is not lazy by any means and adds to the new model’s improved appeal.


Electric-only driving range is also around 50 per cent higher than the previous model, owing to improved battery performance.


Toyota’s fresh take on the Prius features a unique monoform silhouette of the original shape, but with a wide and low stance and larger 19-inch wheels.


It utilises the fifth-generation Toyota hybrid system recently introduced to Australia in the Corolla Cross SUV and Corolla small hath and sedan, as well as a second-generation Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform.


Dynamic ability is also said to be improved, Toyota claiming additional reinforcement throughout the body for improved rigidity and reduced noise while redesigned suspension with MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the back promise to improve cornering and straight-line performance. 


The regular hybrid model is set for release overseas before the end of this year and the plug-in is due to enter production next year, but Australia will receive neither unless there is a change of heart within the local Toyota operation.


When it stormed, silently, onto the road in 1997, the Prius was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car.


By the second generation, it had the distinctive monoform silhouette that has become synonymous with eco-friendly types and is carried through to the latest release.


The third generation introduced a larger 1.8-litre engine and enhanced fuel efficiency, before the fourth generation used the TNGA platform marking an evolution for the model.


Part of the Prius legacy is as a staple of the taxi service in Australia and the fact it was every environmentally conscious Hollywood star’s transport of choice until the Tesla Model S swept it aside.


So far, total worldwide Prius sales have exceeded 5 million, which Toyota says accounts for a reduction equivalent to at least 82 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.


Toyota says the development team went back to the drawing board for the new Prius, starting from scratch to design a model that ‘needs to remain popular for the next 25 years’.


Following its Japan launch, the new Prius will be set for North America, Europe, and other countries that have not been publicly confirmed. 


An ‘island architecture’ inside offers a spacious layout, which Toyota says is focused on achieving a low-stress cockpit that makes it easy to focus on the task at hand; driving. 


The predominantly black interior is significantly less daggy than previous iterations, and red accents further improve the look.


A ‘My Room Mode’ feature lets occupants sit in air-conditioned comfort, using the infotainment system from the external power source when charging.


Toyota’s solar roof option will be fitted to the plug-in models, which is claimed to generate energy  equivalent to driving up to 1250km per year.


Illuminated warnings on the instrument panel alert the driver to traffic hazards with a light show, before sounding audible alarms, for a more peaceful driver-aid experience.


Eight body colours will be available, including two new solid base colours of Ash and Mustard, giving owners more options.


The new Prius will also be safer, featuring the latest Toyota Safety Sense suite of crash avoidance tech and Toyota Teammate driver assist systems, as well as a variety of cameras around the vehicle to help with visibility. 

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