1 Nov 2003
TOYOTA hit the big time with the second-generation Prius, introduced in Australia just two years after the rather dumpy first edition arrived.
Larger and more powerful, the 20 Series rose from being small to mid-sized, and boasted a five-door hatchback body of almost Camry dimensions.
Certainly, the prettier and more practical design helped its cause, but the 2005 fuel price hikes also contributed to the growing popularity of Toyota’s hybrid phenomenon.
On the technology front, electric power output has been increased from 33 to 50kW and Toyota now claims a 0-100km/h figure of around 10 seconds.
Fuel economy remains around 5.5 litres/100km while emissions of hydrocarbons are said to be some 30 per cent less than the previous Prius.
The new hybrid drive system has been dubbed Hybrid Synergy Drive, which also appeared in the Lexus RX400h and GS450h hybrids.
Other Prius II features include a start button to replace the conventional ignition and a proximity sensor to replace the conventional key fob, while many systems are now electric, including the air-conditioning.
In late 2005, Toyota upgraded the 20-Series Prius with revised instruments, repositioned rear seats, an improved stereo, a "refreshed" front-end and, on the i-Tech luxury variant, a reversing camera and satellite-navigation.