The brand says the new fourth-generation Toyota Prius will “establish new benchmarks in fuel economy”. It’s staying tight-lipped on specific details for now, but has confirmed that the newcomer will be the first model to use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform.
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Like the VW Group’s MQB set-up, this is modular, so will be used to underpin a whole host of future models. The all-new platform has given Toyota’s engineers the freedom to develop a clean-sheet hybrid drivetrain. And it will bring improvements in economy and CO2 emissions – to around 90mpg and 70g/km. Better economy on the motorway has also been promised, as too has a more responsive CVT gearbox.
The 1.8-litre petrol engine is set to remain with a downsized electric motor and a separate electric power unit to drive the rear wheels. This so-called ‘e-4WD’ system will only work at speeds of up to 37mph but will boost grip in poor weather conditions.
Although the nickel-metal hybrid battery is now more compact, while charging times “have been significantly improved”. Toyota also claims the new drivetrain will “sharpen performance” and, as it’s more compact, enhance boot capacity.
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The benefits aren’t limited to performance, either, as the TNGA set-up has also enabled designers to craft a whole new look for the Prius. It’s clear the brand has looked to its hydrogen-powered Mirai for inspiration, with huge swept-back headlamps and tapered, vertical tail-lights. The blacked-out C-pillar and subtle bootlip spoiler also give a more aerodynamic look than before. Inside, the changes are less dramatic. Toyota has tidied up the dash, as well as adding a new steering wheel design.
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A new Prius Plug-in will also be introduced next year, featuring a small boost in the electric-only range of 15.5 miles and an incremental improvement on the current economy and emissions figures of 134mpg and 49g/km. These will come from upgrades to the lithium-ion battery pack, aerodynamics and friction losses in the powertrain.
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