Toyota has announced the technical specification and starting price for its new Prius hybrid, which goes on sale in Ireland in mid-February. Costing from €31,450, the fourth generation of Toyota's hybrid family car will have CO2 emissions as low has 70g/km and official fuel economy of 93mpg. That's a 19g/km improvement compared to the outgoing Prius.
The engine and hybrid powertrain are mostly unchanged though - it's the same 1.8-litre petrol unit, running on the more efficient Atkinson Cycle and Toyota claims it's the most thermally efficient engine in the world. Somewhat surprisingly, the batteries, which power the hybrid part of the system, are still old fashioned nickel-mettal hydride units, although Toyota says that a more high-tech version, using lithium-ion batteries, will be offered as an option. The nickel batteries are being retained mostly for reliability purposes.
The Prius' performance has been improved too. The 0-100km/h sprint is done with in 10.6 seconds, while the hybrid system can now draw upon more electrical power to assist that acceleration. That's part of a major effort by Toyota to address complaints that the CVT gearbox in the previous model has too often left the engine revving its head off for not much actual acceleration. Prius engineers are promising that this new version will be a lot better, and will be more economical on long motorway journeys as a result. A huge effort has gone in to taking as much weight as possible out of the system too.
Inside, there are also major changes. The new Prius rides on Toyota's new global vehicle architecture platform and so interior space has been significantly increased. It's now at least as spacious inside as an Avensis.
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