Daring suit for the original as Toyota unveils all-new PriusNovember 16, 2022
The initiator of the then still largely unfamiliar hybrid vehicle in 1997, Toyota has officially taken the wraps off of the all-new fifth generation Prius that replaces the previous iteration it had marketed since 2015.
A nameplate both revered and decreed over the last 25 years, the all-new Prius, despite the rollout of more mainstream hybrid vehicles across the Toyota line-up, has been cited as a key model for the automaker, hence the reason for its renewal for the fifth time.
More futuristic than ever
Designed from the ground up, complete with futuristic styling from the bZ4X, the now TNGA platform underpinned Prius rides as standard on 19-inch alloy wheels, but while it retains the liftback appearance and “cab-forward” design in order to aid aerodynamics, boasts a new rounded front facia embedded with less angular LED headlights.
While appearing similar to the Honda Civic of two generations ago, when viewing the side profile from the rear, in addition to CRX overtones, the rear facia has been styled along the lines of the Crown as per the full-width LED lights cutting into the rear wings, expansive window and full-width light LED bar.
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Its new platform having been subjected to revisions of the MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear as a means of reducing noise and improving rigidity, the Prius’ interior has been dramatically redesigned in order to conform to what Toyota calls the “island architecture”.
Perhaps the most distinct carryover from the bZ4X, the interior receives the same steering wheel, a new freestanding 12.3-inch infotainment system and a digital instrument cluster of unspecified width on top of the dashboard.
As well as new seats, Toyota has dropped the awkward gear lever for the CVT mounted at the base of the dash for a traditional lever on the centre console, while also incorporating physical switchgear for the climate control.
Exact specification, while likely to differ from market to market, was not disclosed, though Toyota did confirm the inclusion of its Safety Sense system, together with a new Park Assist function plus a digital rear-view mirror.
A choice stemming from the third generation, power for the fifth generation Prius again comes courtesy of a hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain, with the latter representing the most powerful in the model’s history.
Consisting of a conventional 2.0-litre petrol engine paired to a new 13.6-kWh electric motor, the setup produces a combined 162 kW and according to Toyota, results in a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 6.4 seconds.
Despite claiming a 50% improvement in range when in EV mode only, the exact figure wasn’t revealed.
The conventional hybrid models meanwhile keep hold of the existing 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines, with the latter producing 144 kW and boasting a second electric motor on the rear axle for an effective all-wheel-drive system in the same mould as the E-Four setup employed on the RAV4 Hybrid.
Unique to the plug-in hybrid is Toyota’s second generation solar charger that uses a series of panels and sun power to generate electricity and therefore power certain features when the Prius is parked or being charged.
According to Toyota, the system has the ability to generate the same power as driving 1 250 km per year.
Going on-sale in the United States and Europe next year, the Prius has, so far, not been confirmed for South Africa with chances appearing unlikely given the nomenclature’s less than stellar performance over the previous generations.
It, therefore, seems more apparent that focus will be placed on the recently expanded Corolla Hybrid range and on the locally build Corolla Cross Hybrid rather than the Prius. At present though, this is but an assumption and could change in 2023.