Firstly, let’s address the fact that Toyota is pulling the Prius from the UK market. It may seem like a rash move given their prevalence in urban areas – specifically as minicabs. However, in the last year Toyota has registered less than 600, with private and business buyers leaning towards Toyota’s SUVs for family duties, or smaller hybrid models for brand-loyal, older people.
However, the Prius will live on in North America, other locations in Europe, and Japan. And for those markets, the fifth-generation car looks like a real step forward, based on the second generation TNGA platform and with totally revised powertrains offering better EV range.
A revised, more powerful powertrain is at the heart of the new Toyota Prius. It comprises a 2.0-litre engine and electric e-motor which combine to produce a chunky 220bhp whilst maintaining the same efficiency as the fourth-generation car. Zero to 62mph is dispatched in a none-too-shabby 6.7 seconds.
As well as a new, larger petrol engine, the Mk5 Prius has a larger battery of 13.6kWh which, according to the brand, will offer “driving range about 50 per cent higher than the previous model” in EV mode. This represents around 50 miles in the real world. What’s more, Toyota has re-engineered the battery layout so it is now located under the rear seats instead of the luggage compartment, meaning boot capacity has been increased and centre of gravity lowered.
Whilst recognisably a Prius, the fifth-gen car has been given a full exterior redesign and presents a much more dynamic and sporty looking package. A lower centre of gravity and 50mm lower overall height combined with larger, 19 inch wheels and a heavily raked windscreen makes the car appear hunkered down in comparison to the outgoing model.
Up front, ‘hammerhead’ shark-like design, accentuated by the headlights which wrap around to the bonnet shut line, provide a dynamic front end. At the rear, a prominent horizontal taillight cluster extends the width of the car, helping to push home width over height. Compared to the Mk4 car, the new Prius is 22mm wider and 46mm shorter, but has a 50mm longer wheelbase.
Finally, a panoramic glass roof which includes a built-in solar panel is said to be good for up to over 700 miles of additional range per year, and also helps run the car’s air conditioning.
In our view, it’s the well-formed Prius to date and should age well.
Inside, Toyota is aiming to up the quality of materials alongside attempting to fuse ‘fun to drive’ and ‘sophisticated’. The brand reckons the interior provides a ‘low-stress’ environment and the driver’s area a space that promotes concentrated driving.
Behind the multifunction steering wheel is a 7 inch digital dash, whilst a large, central landscape orientated touchscreen runs an interface that will be familiar to owners of the latest generation of Toyotas. Some buttons do remain, however, for elements like heated seats and climate control, so it’s not as spartan as many modern electrified cars are. An interesting feature is the combined ambient light and illuminated warning system which alerts drivers to hazards detected by Toyota Safety Sense by flashing and audible warnings.
Other tech features include Advanced Park which can park and remove the car from spaces autonomously.
We’ll know more about the Prius when it gets its official reveal in December, but as we noted earlier, it won’t be coming to the UK. The Plug-in hybrid will be available from Spring 2023 in relevant markets.
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