Brian Joss –
The all-new fourth-generation Toyota Prius sports a ground-breaking style and sets new standards in fun-to-drive dynamics.
Prius went on sale internationally in 1997 as the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle and helped to change perceptions of alternative energy vehicles from niche products to game-changers. Since the end of July 31, cumulative Prius sales exceed 3.5 million vehicles across 80 countries and regions.
The second generation Prius was launched in 2005 in South Africa, as the first hybrid vehicle on the local market. The third generation model introduced more progressive styling in 2009, along with a larger capacity 1.8 litre engine.
Thanks largely to pioneers such as the Prius; today’s car buyers often expect environmental performance as standard. In response to this trend, Toyota went to great lengths to ensure that the appeal of the fourth-generation model would extend well beyond the car’s proven environmental credentials: the new model also boasts a stylish, attractive design in keeping with its fun-to-drive nature. Additionally, as the first global vehicle to use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the new Prius has a completely new, more rigid platform which, combined with a class-leading low centre of gravity and a new front and rear suspension, offer a fun, refined drive.
The new Prius will go on sale in Japan at the end of 2015, and is subsequently scheduled for successive launches around the world. South African introduction is currently under study.
The new model inherits the nameplate’s signature triangular silhouette which, combined with a low centre of gravity, results in an impressively angular yet emotive design.
The use of new headlamps minimises the Prius’ frontal area and, at the same time, provides a striking lighting display which helps define the vehicle’s distinctive character.
Up to eight exterior colours are available, including “Emotional Red” which utilises a newly developed treatment process to achieve a deep, vibrant lustre that highlights the external forms.
According to Kouji Toyoshima, the model’s chief engineer: “There is much more to the new Prius than a green image. The exterior has a particularly emotive appearance, thanks in part to the new platform that enables a low slung silhouette similar to a sports car.”
The Prius’ interior adopts advanced technology complemented by features that are functional, fun and have high visual impact.
To greatly improve core vehicle performance and enhance product appeal, Toyota is implementing the Toyota New Global Architecture, an innovative, integrated, development program for powertrain components and vehicle platforms.
The new Prius features a chassis that is 60 per cent more rigid, while the powertrain unit’s lower placement and low centre of gravity has increased the vehicle’s stability and comfort.
Almost every internal component of the Prius engine is new or substantially revised – effectively blueprinted to the finest limits and tolerances. A comprehensive programme of size and weight reductions for major hybrid components was achieved while maintaining overall performance.
As a result, the Prius has achieved a remarkable world’s best, with over 40 per cent thermal efficiency and a huge boost in fuel economy, contributing significantly to overall driver enjoyment and fewer visits to the fuelling station.
The new Prius is 60 mm longer, 15 mm wider and 20 mm lower than the model it replaces, providing a much more planted on-road presence while also delivering more occupant and luggage room.
A class-challenging low centre of gravity and completely new and far more responsive front and rear suspension package provides a significantly improved driving experience. The height of the Prius’ front badge is exactly the same as that of Toyota’s 86 sports car—an indication of the advancement made in achieving optimum reduction in height and mass.