Here is our best look yet at the car some are describing as the next-generation Toyota Prius.
Toyota has officially denied that this car previews a successor to the popular hybrid, but the similarities between the two cars are clear.
This striking concept car is called the NS4 – and it has made its debut at the Detroit Motor Show.
Following the hydrogen fuel cell FCV-R concept, which we saw at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year, it previews both the styling direction and the petrol-electric technology of the company’s fourth-generation hybrid, which is due to go on sale in 2015.
The sleek design has been shaped to be as aerodynamic as possible. There are no wing mirrors, for example, just slender posts that contain rear view mounted cameras. The high definition picture they produce is displayed on an extra-wide panoramic screen that sits across the top of the NS4’s sleek dashboard.
The doors lift up and out as they open, just like they do with Aston Martin's Rapide, while there are new glass technologies that offer better heat insulation, and a clearer view of the road ahead. What's more the front and rear windscreens are covered in a hydrophobic coating that makes them resistant to rain and misting, and also improves the signal quality for electronic devices in the cabin.
Behind that distinctive new grille lies an advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain. There are no official figures or details for the petrol-electric system yet, but Toyota wants to exceed the efficiency of the current plug-in Prius, so expect 150mpg fuel economy (up from 135mpg) and 40g/km CO2 emissions (down from 49g/km).
The system will be lighter than that in the current Prius plug-in, but the batteries will have greater energy density. That means it will have a better electric-only range – this is likely to increase from 15 to 25 miles – but will still take 90 minutes to charge.
There’s no confirmation yet on what type of batteries the NS4 uses, but they’re most likely to be lithium-ion or zinc-air.
The cabin has an Internet-enabled iPad-style touchscreen in the centre console. This is used to control navigation, music and vehicle information systems.
Safety features include a next-generation crash-avoidance system, adaptive headlight beams so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic and a blind spot warning system.
Joining the NS4 on stage at the Detroit Motor Show was the new supermini sized Prius C, which was revealed earlier this year at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Toyota also announced ambitious plans to boost production numbers of the electric cars it offers, with a limited run of electrically powered RAV4s.
Available only in America, the SUV will get the latest lithium-ion battery technology and a range of over 100 miles.