New Toyota Prius: prices and specs revealed

Fourth-generation of iconic hybrid priced from £23,295 and is available to order now

When it was launched in 1997, the Toyota Prius almost single-handedly launched a new class of car: the hybrid. Toyota has sold over five million examples worldwide and the UK is the Prius’ biggest European market.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the latest fourth-generation model has a lot riding on it and is already generating considerable interest. We previously cast our eyes over the latest Prius on its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and now prices and specs have been released.

The Prius is available to order now with prices starting at £23,295 for the entry-level Active trim, and move up to £27,450 for top-spec Excel models. There are new Business Edition models to appeal to company users, too.

Styling

The design of the new Prius is sleeker and consequently more aerodynamic than that of the model it replaces. The visual changes also add a more modern, assertive stance to a car that could previously have been called ‘demure’.

The vertical rear lights rise up to meet a subtle yet pronounced spoiler, while the new front end boasts large, swept-back headlights that pair neatly with the foglights below for a bold look. These design cues – along with a ‘floating roof’ effect created by blacked-out window pillars – mark the new Prius out as a thoroughly modern and confident-looking car.

Running costs

The new Prius isn’t just about looks and attitude, though: as a hybrid, its raison d’être is efficiency, so to this end it features a redesigned hybrid drive system. This should see the Prius’ fuel economy top 90mpg, while its CO2 emissions should drop from the current model’s 100g/km to only 70g/km.

Although Toyota has yet to release official figures, it claims the latest Prius will “establish new benchmarks in fuel economy, emissions and efficiency”. This is likely to ensure the Prius works well with the new tax bands looming in the next few years.

Chassis and engine details

The chassis on which the new Prius sits is called ‘TNGA’ and will be the basis for a number of important forthcoming Toyota and Lexus vehicles, including the next Yaris and several SUVs. As the basis for the new Prius, the platform provides a lower centre of gravity and greater structural stiffness, which means improved handling and stability. It also allows the option of fitting four-wheel drive.

The Prius’ four-wheel-drive system is called e-4WD. It uses one of the car’s two electric motors and the 1.8-litre petrol engine to power the front wheels and a separate electric motor to power the rears. Rumors suggest this will improve the Prius’ handling in tricky driving conditions, but it’ll only activate at speeds under 37mph.

Interior

Inside, the Prius gets a svelte cabin, but it’s an evolutionary update rather than a complete redesign. That’s not bad thing, as the previous Prius was pretty unconventional already, while the refinements and improvements are welcome.

The central information screen is now full colour and has grown to 4.2 inches. It’s paired with a colour head-up display that shows essential information and alerts in your eyeline. Toyota has also tweaked the Prius’ automatic air-conditioning so that it runs more efficiently, targeting occupied seats.

Toyota’s decision to make the new Prius four-wheel drive is a significant one, as it’s likely to improve the car’s handling and grip considerably. It’s also led to an upgrade for the nickel-metal hydride battery, which is now small enough to fit under the rear seat, freeing up more space in the boot.

The new Prius will feature Toyota Safety Sense – a cluster of safety tech that includes adaptive cruise control and a pedestrian recognition system. There’ll also be a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, so the Prius will always be scanning the road looking for potential dangers. Toyota has also updated the car’s rear parking sensors to take the pain out of reversing maneuvers.

Price and release date

The fourth-generation Prius will cost £23,295 for the entry-level Active model. All Prius models will come with LED headlamps, electric driver's seat, keyless entry, touchscreen infotainment with DAB radio and Toyota's Safety Sense system.

To appeal to business users, there's Business Edition (£24,195) and Business Edition Plus (£25,995) models, while Excel trim sits at the top of the range at £27,450.

A new version of the Toyota Prius Plug-In is due in 2016, too. It’ll get upgraded lithium-ion batteries, improved aerodynamics and a more efficient hybrid system – all of which should help it return an impressive 134mpg while emitting only 49g/km of CO2, as well as increasing electric-only range.

The Prius is a very important car for Toyota and this latest fourth-generation model shows every indication of being its most advanced hybrid yet. It's available to order now with first deliveries expected in March 2016.

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