Ever since the launch of the original model in Japan in 1997, Prius has maintained its status as Toyota’s technology ambassador, an eco-car that regularly brings valuable next-generation technologies and innovations to the market place.
The second generation of Toyota’s ground-breaking plug-in hybrid electric vehicle – the new Prius Plug-in (known as Prius Prime) made its world debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show, offering significant increases in its EV performance, in terms of driving range, power and maximum speed.
The new model builds on the strengths of the latest generation Prius, introduced earlier this year. It marks an evolution of the responsive, intuitive, quiet and refined hybrid system.
The new Prius Plug-in will be available in showrooms worldwide (including the UK and Europe) from the end of this year.
EV Mode-enhanced Hybrid Synergy Drive
The new Prius Plug-in’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain features a larger, 8.8kW/h lithium-ion battery pack, allowing drivers to enjoy the benefits of EV driving for longer periods and improving the potential driving range from a tank of fuel. It posts a substantial improvement in fuel consumption compared to its predecessor, with an estimated average figure of 202mpg, the best rating for any current plug-in hybrid on the market, producing a CO2 figure of just 32g/km.
Even when not running in EV mode, Prius Plug-in will automatically favour its all-electric drive capability in situations where this can deliver higher efficiency than the petrol engine, most notably when driving around town and on shorter journeys.
The car is equipped with a Toyota-first dual motor/generator drive system, which uses both the electric motor and generator to produce drive torque, helping boost both acceleration and overall performance.
The new plug-in hybrid system further minimises use of the petrol engine, even when accelerating quickly or using the cabin heater, with the adoption of a new battery-powered heating system that improves efficiency in cold weather, and the world’s first heat pump air conditioning system with gas injection.
- Prius Prime can be driven at speeds up to 84mph while still in EV mode.
- The potential EV driving range is more than 30 miles (quoted as 22miles EPA), around twice that of its predecessor.
- Charging the battery should only take around two hours 20 minutes
The hybrid system’s 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle VVT-i engine also plays an important role in Prius Plug-in’s overall efficiency. Its large-volume exhaust gas recirculation system, improved combustion efficiency and innovative measures to manage heat and reduce friction have improved its thermal efficiency to 40 per cent, a world-best figure for a mass-produced petrol engine.
Prius Plug-in’s Toyota New Global Architecture platform plays a defining role in its fun-to-drive quality, giving the car a lower centre of gravity and enabling a more engaging driving position to be set. Handling is promised to be more precise and responsive, with less body roll.
The new Prius Plug-in displays a chiselled profile and edgy character lines, and has a more road-hugging look and a lower centre of gravity. Compared to the current model, it is 165mm longer, 15mm wider and sits 20mm lower to ground.
The wind-cheating aerodynamic qualities of its styling combine with the low overall weight of its high-strength bodyshell to make a significant contribution to its exceptionally low energy consumption. Its 0.24 drag coefficient (Cd) is expected to be among the lowest of any production saloon. With weight being kept to a minimum through extensive use of aluminium for the bonnet and a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) tailgate.
Its status as an individual model within the Prius range is confirmed by a unique lighting signature, created with four-lamp LED projector headlights and LED tail lamps.
Internally, the dominant centre cluster has a floating design, created using a sculpted, concealed rear mounting. The eight-inch touchscreen allows for easy operation of audio and navigation functions, including flick actions to scroll through the different displays.
The instrument cluster has dual 4.2-inch full colour TFT screens which display information with excellent clarity and sharpness. Their content can be changed using a menu control switch on the steering wheel. The cabin is designed to be ultra quiet with the use of sound-insulating laminated windscreen and front door glazing.
Feature shared with the standard Prius include a wireless phone charging tray beneath the centre stack and a colour head-up display, presenting information such as vehicle speed, battery charge, hybrid system status and Toyota Safety Sense function clearly on the base of the windscreen, so it can be seen without the driver having to take their eyes off the road ahead.
Prius Plug-in will be offered with Toyota Safety Sense, equipping it with integrated active safety and driver assistance functions including a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Autonomous Emergency Braking; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Full-Speed Adaptive Cruise Control with full stop technology; and Automatic High Beam headlight operation. A Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert will also be available.