The Hybrid Energy System uses a more powerful 50-kilowatt motor that operates at a higher voltage achieved by using a new power converter between the battery and motor. With 50 per cent more electric power on tap, the new Prius also offers improved low-end torque and acceleration performance.
Its advanced powertrain aside, the new Prius offers dramatically new styling. It remains a full size, five-seat vehicle, but now offers a rear hatchback and folding rear seat arrangement for versatile load carrying capability.
The aerodynamically efficient body has a drag coefficient of 0.26, contributing to excellent noise insulation for the cabin and fuel economy. The new Prius is built on a new platform, its wheelbase is longer by six inches (152.4mm), but short front and rear overhangs make it easy to park and manoeuvre.
Other technical advances featured in the new Prius include a push-button ignition and by-wire, braking, throttle and transmission control (i.e. there is no mechanical linkage, as in 'fly-by-wire' on aircraft). The by-wire gearshift system means Toyota has been able to dispense with the traditional floor-mounted gear level and replace it with a dashboard-mounted joystick which requires just a tap of the finger to operate and frees up space inside the car.
A new air conditioning system debuts in the car, too. It is fully electrically operated rather than running off the engine fan belt, which means it can continue to operate even when the petrol engine is off and the car is running on electric power alone.
Full specification and technical details and pricing for the UK market will be announced later in the year.
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