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Toyota Prius C to be Australia’s cheapest hybrid

Affordable greenie: The Toyota Prius C will become Australia's cheapest hybrid car, with the brand projecting a saving of "thousands" over the $29,990 Honda Insight.

Yaris-sized Toyota Prius C to undercut Honda Insight as cheapest hybrid Down Under

Toyota logo15 Feb 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

TOYOTA Australia has confirmed the light-sized Prius C hatch will be “thousands of dollars” cheaper than the most affordable hybrid car currently sold in Australia – the (larger) $29,990 Honda Insight – when it hits showrooms in late March.

However, the brand’s Australian arm has conceded that it will likely face “tight supply throughout 2012” as a result of stronger than anticipated demand in its Japanese home market following its December launch.

Toyota Japan claims it currently holds 120,000 orders for the Yaris-sized hybrid hatch, which equates to roughly ten months worth of sales.

As GoAuto has reported, the baby-sized Prius is likely to take over the mantle of Australia’s most fuel-efficient car following the discontinuation of the diesel-powered Ford Fiesta Econetic earlier this month.

While final economy figures have not been released, Toyota Australia recently projected a city-cycle consumption figure of 3.7L/100km, based on results from overseas tests.

8 center imageLeft: Prius C. Bottom: Prius V.

The larger and heavier 1.8-litre Prius (1370kg compared to 1125kg for the 1.5-litre Prius C) has an official Australian city-cycle consumption figure of 3.9L/100km – exactly the same as its combined figure.

Should the Prius C mirror the achievement of its bigger brother, it will consume a combined 3.7L/100km as well as a lower CO2 output than the standard-setting Prius.

In addition, it is likely to wrest Australia’s economy crown from a triumvirate of diesel-powered European hatchbacks – the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, Audi A1 TDI and Mini Cooper D, all of which return 3.8L/100km.

According to Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor, the Prius C “will bring Toyota's renowned Hybrid Synergy Drive technology to a new segment of buyers at a more accessible price.

"It will appeal to consumers seeking spirited driving dynamics, fuel efficiency and technology in a compact yet spacious city car,” he said.

The Prius C uses a version of the Atkinson cycle petrol engine from the conventional Prius, cut back from 1.8 litres in the Prius to 1.5 litres in the C.

This is paired with an electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and matched to a continuously-variable automatic transmission as standard.

The system’s total output is 74kW, down from 100kW in the standard Prius, providing the C with a power-to-weight ratio of 65.7 kW per tonne compared with the larger car’s 72.9 kW per tonne.

Interior space has been maximised courtesy of clever packaging, including re-locating the battery and fuel tank to a position beneath the rear seat, promising plenty of legroom for all occupants and abundant luggage space.

The car’s major components are also smaller, lighter and more efficient, which the brand claims gives the car a low centre of gravity and more agile dynamics.

The Prius C will arrive in Australia with a suite of standard safety equipment including seven airbags, electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, hill-start assist and front seatbelt force-limiters.

Beyond the launch of the C, the Prius line-up will expand further with the addition of the seven-seat Prius V people-mover, which will slot into the range beneath the larger Tarago from May this year.

Honda, meanwhile, will bolster its hybrid offering when it launches the Civic Hybrid sedan at the end of February, although its starting price of $35,990 aligns it more closely with the similarly-sized standard Prius (from $34,990) than the Prius C.

In April last year Toyota slashed as much as $7510 from the standard Prius range following the lower than expected entry price of the CT200h hybrid hatch from its Lexus luxury arm.

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