When we think about green cars nowadays we usually think about electric cars such as Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S. However, not so long ago electric vehicle technology was not so advanced and electric cars were disregarded as uncomfortable to live with.
But Toyota introduced a solution, which appeared to change the whole perspective on green cars. It was a hybrid Toyota Prius, which, introduced in 1997, quickly gained popularity between celebrities and drivers who cared about environment. And now Toyota is introducing a new generation of Prius, which is promised to be not only efficient and environmentally friendly, but also fun.
In fact, older Prius was always criticized because of its lack of driver engagement. Very quickly modern diesel cars started catching up in efficiency field with this hybrid car and lack of fun and rather high price made sells slow. Many automotive journalists criticized it for lack of any emotion that people look for in cars and there quickly appeared other hybrid cars. So now it is time for the new generation of Prius and Toyota is saying that it will solve all problems that older cars had.
Back in 1997 Toyota Prius was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle and offered unmatched environmentally friendly character and efficiency. Since then company sold more than 3.5 million of Prius models through three generations. The latest generation is said to offer even better efficiency and, because of a class-leading low centre of gravity, new front and rear suspension and a more rigid platform will even be fun to drive.
Toyota says that with this project designers were given free rein to realize their vision, which resulted in stylish design and quality interior. The new Prius retains angular design and triangular silhouette. It features aggressive lines, which, together with low centre of gravity, creates dynamic character of the car. The new Prius has a roofline 20 mm lower than the previous one, engine hood has been lowered too. New headlamps create a striking lighting display which helps define the vehicle’s distinctive character and also minimizes the Prius’ frontal area, which helps with aerodynamics. Laps at the rear highlight the rear spoiler and the trailing edges of the sides. Spoiler itself, however, looks like it may obscure view out of the rear window, but we will have to wait and see what automotive journalists will say about that.
Company also introduced new colour options for the new Prius, one of which is called “Emotional Red” and utilizes a newly developed treatment process to achieve a deep, vibrant colour. Kouji Toyoshima, the chief engineer of the new Prius, said: “there is much more to the new Prius than a green image. The exterior has a particularly emotional appearance, thanks in part to the new platform that enables a low slung silhouette similar to a sports car.” Interior features wide instrument panel with separate display and control zones. It is said to be comfortable, easy to use and visually pleasing.
Of course, driving dynamics and technology that goes into making the new Prius is even more important than styling and image. Toyota is introducing Toyota New Global Architecture, which is a development program for powertrain components and vehicle platforms. The new Prius is the first car to be developed in this program, which should bring improved handling, safety and heightened driving enjoyment over the previous generation. Chassis of the new car is 60% more rigid and low centre of gravity should provide stability through the corners and comfortable ride.
Toyota says that majority of components of the powertrain of the new Prius are new or substantially revised. Company managed to achieve significant weight loss and class leading thermal efficiency of 40%. Results are said to be impressive – car is even more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient, but we will have to wait for numbers as Toyota still has not announced them yet.
However, big news are said to be significantly improved sporty character of the car. New Toyota Prius is 60 mm longer, 15 mm wider and 20 mm lower than the previous model. It features new suspension too – new front suspension and rear double wishbone suspension provides a greater connection to the road, control and feedback in all driving conditions. More rigid chassis and a high-strength framework give car greater dynamic performance and, combined with the latest safety technology, make the New Prius a safer and more pleasant to drive car.
This is as much as Toyota is telling us now. The new Prius will be available for customers in Japan at the end of 2015 and later will be launched all around the world. Then we will be able to see if it delivers what is promised: green yet dynamic driving experience.