Brian Joss – The new 2019 Toyota Prius made its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week marking further advances in the driving capability and appeal of the world’s most popular self-charging hybrid car.
Ever since the launch of the original model in 1997, Prius has been a leader in technical innovation, making ever-greater progress in efficiency, refinement and driving pleasure through four generations. It has also been a consistent pathfinder for advanced, useful new technologies.
Maintaining this distinguished record, the new Prius is the first Toyota to benefit from Hybrid AWD-i, a new, intelligent, electric all-wheel drive system that provides more sure-footed handling and peace-of-mind driving.
The smart system uses an additional high-torque electric motor to provide extra drive through the rear axle when required. It is engineered to engage automatically when pulling away, at speeds up to 11 km/h, and when sensors detect low-grip conditions, such is in snow or on wet and slippery road surfaces, at speeds between 11 and 70 km/h. The unit is compact and lightweight, with no centre differential or front-to-rear driveshaft, so there is minimal intrusion in boot space and little compromise in Prius’s exceptional fuel economy and low emissions.
The Hybrid AWD-i model features a new, compact nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery designed for excellent cold weather performance; the front-wheel drive Prius is equipped with a new lithium-ion hybrid battery.
The current Prius has already taken the driving experience to a higher level with its first use of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform, securing unprecedented dynamic performance and ride comfort with a lower centre of gravity and significantly increased body rigidity.
The latest evolution of Prius’s styling gives the car a cleaner look that engages the senses more strongly than ever. Sharp, slim new headlight units emphasise a sweeping horizontal line that evokes a wide and planted stance and feature new bi-beam LEDs that give a wider field of illumination.
The peak point of the bumper has been raised to generate a coherent, flowing line down the sides of the car, producing a more dynamic, flowing silhouette.
At the rear, new combination lamps again focus the eye on a strong horizontal line to emphasise the car’s low centre of gravity and are fitted with new-design light guides. The powerful effect is heightened by a new inverted trapezoid shape integrated in the tailgate around the license plate.
The 2019 changes include the addition of two strong new colours – Emotional Red and Aqua Breeze – a new 17-inch alloy wheel design and a new contrast dark grey finish for the 15-inch wheelcaps.
In the cabin the sensory quality has been enhanced with small but telling changes to the centre console arrangement and some of the controls on the instrument panel. New cloth upholstery finishes have been introduced, adding to the overall smarter and more refined interior.
Changes to the equipment specifications include an increase in size for the wireless charging tray to accommodate larger smartphones; turn-by-turn navigation directions added to the head-up display functionality; and a multimedia touchscreen that offers faster response and can be operated using “pinch and flick” gestures familiar from smartphone use.
Following its Los Angeles debut, the new 2019 Toyota Prius will arrive in South Africa early next year.
CAPTION: New hybrid: Toyota gets AWD-i electric all-wheel drive system Picture: Motopress