The previous Toyota Prius was an eco-warrior that was never bought for its looks. Could that change with the new version?
TOKYO – As a pioneer in the hybrid game, the Toyota Prius quickly became the archetypal eco-warrior on wheels, but we doubt anyone ever bought one for its looks.
Through its first four generations, the Toyota Prius either looked bland, strange or a bit of both. But the fifth-generation model, which was unveiled in Japan last night, boasts a sleek and attractive new design with its bZ4X-inspired face and coupe-like silhouette. The shark-inspired design fits around Toyota’s second-generation TNGA platform and to give it a purposeful stance on the road, Toyota has fitted 19-inch wheels for the first time.
Given that Toyota now offers hybrid variants of just about every model it sells, the Prius needed to reinvent itself and the Japanese carmaker seems to have done a really good job of that, in our book. But since the previous-gen model was discontinued in South Africa due to slow sales, we’re not sure if the new one is heading our way, but dare we say it would stand a far greater chance of success this time around.
But the whole point of a Prius is its hybrid system, and to that end the new version takes a step forward with a new hybrid system that’s paired with a larger 2.0-litre petrol engine and it’s available as a regular self-charging hybrid (HEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
The PHEV version also takes Prius’ performance game to the next level, with a system output of 164kW, allowing for a claimed 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds. Toyota hasn’t mentioned how far it will travel on battery power alone, but it says the new 13.8 kWh battery has increased the battery range (which was around 50km on the previous) model, by over 50 percent.
The regular self-charging 2.0 HEV variant, for the record, version is good for 144kW.
Toyota is also offering a roof-mounted solar charging system that it says can generate power equivalent to driving up to 1 250km per year.
Furthermore, the new Toyota Prius will be available with the latest array of Toyota Safety Sense advanced driver assist systems as well as Advanced Park Assist, with remote functionality that allows owners to manoeuvre into tight bays from outside the car.
“The automotive industry is going through a once-in-a-century transformation, with a range of new next-generation powertrain options being developed,” Toyota said.
“For the Prius HEV to continue as the vehicle of choice for the coming generation, the new Prius needed more than its core strength as an environmentally friendly car. Therefore, it was developed as an exhilarating package with stylish designs that users will fall in love with at first sight and captivating driving performance.”