Toyota has unveiled the new Prius at the Detroit Motor Show. It’s still a full hybrid, meaning it has a petrol engine and an electric motor, but this time it has a larger, 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine, yet it will still offer improved fuel economy and lower emissions.
A comprehensive re-engineering of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system has resulted in significant reductions in weight and size. With the benefit of more wind tunnel testing than any other Toyota before, it achieves a coefficient of drag (Cd) figure of 0.25, the lowest of any mass produced car in the world. With particular attention paid to the flow of air beneath the car, this supports quieter running, improved stability and greater fuel efficiency.
Toyota also claims that as well as better fuel economy and performance, the new Prius has reduced full lifecycle emissions, from manufacturing through to ultimate disposal. Even better, the new Prius is built on an all-new platform for better handling, so there is the promise of a more rewarding driving experience, along with more interior space and improved styling.
The new Prius retains its distinctive wedge shape and is only marginally longer than the current model, but changes to the roof profile improve rear seat headroom and revisions to packaging of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system allow for more space in the boot. The interior has also undergone a comprehensive redesign, with improved ergonomics and styling.
Further weight saving gains are achieved through more extensive use of lightweight aluminium and ultra high-tensile steel in the construction of the new car.
There have been more than one million sales worldwide since the original model was launched in 1997. Performance and specification details for the new Prius, specific to the European market, will be announced at the Geneva motor show in March. The model is due to go on sale in the UK this summer.