15 March 2012 / Vehicles
Toyota has refined the quality, performance and owner appeal of Prius, the world's best known and best-selling hybrid car.
The 2012 Prius hatch comes with higher equipment levels and improved ride quality, steering feel and vehicle dynamics as well as fresh exterior and interior styling.
Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Product Planning, Neeraj Lala said "Prius hatch has attracted fleet customers and private buyers who appreciate its environmental credentials, high technology and whole of life costs of ownership.
We've improved Prius hatch for 2012 with a stylish facelift and new features, such as daytime running lights, upgraded audio units and, for the Prius i-Tech, 17 inch alloy wheels. We've also removed the solar roof and remote air conditioning features from the i-Tech, making it more accessible to new customers."
"The facelift Prius hatch continues to provide a practical and intelligent solution for enthusiasts and fleet customers with high levels of technology and a whole of life ownership cost."
The revised front of the car reflects Toyota's new design approach, while the cabin has new front seats, new upholstery and new soft-touch surfaces that combine to give a higher-quality feel.
Increased comfort and steering feel have been produced through a stiffer body and changes to the suspension and steering column.
Prius embraces Toyota's new, more assertive design approach with a stronger focus on the lower part of the car's front end. A new bumper and a larger, trapezoidal lower grille give the vehicle a low and wide look.
Clear-lens headlights and LED daytime running lights have been placed in the bumper beneath the turn indicators, while the fog lights were repositioned within the lower grille.
New power-folding heated door mirrors, new rear combination lights and newly designed 15 inch alloy wheels and covers are also part of the revised Prius. The Prius i-Tech grade now features 17 inch alloy wheels.
Styling changes add an extra 20mm to the car's length, but the wheelbase and highly efficient aerodynamic performance (Cd 0.25) are unchanged.
Inside, the look and feel of the trim, surfaces and upholstery raise the perception of quality.
The front seats offer better support and provide a more comfortable ride, with eight-way power adjustment for the Prius i-Tech's driver's seat.
Toyota's attention to detail can be seen in the redesign of the centre console, which now has a built-in cup holder that can be used without having to open the console lid.
The 12 Volt power socket, USB port and AUX audio input terminal have been moved to the front of the console for easier access.
New, darker materials are used throughout with silver inserts on the centre console and air vents. The hybrid system start button gains blue illumination.
The multi-information display has been revised with sharper images and read-outs that are easier to read.
New functions include a monthly fuel consumption record with a rolling archive of five months' data and an ECO savings calculator.
The calculator works by the driver inputting a target consumption figure and fuel price; the system records the driving time during which consumption is lower than the target and calculates an estimated monthly saving compared with the expected fuel cost.
Body and suspension
The Prius body has been made stiffer by increasing the number of welding spots and reinforcements. Increased rigidity allows for softer suspension tuning, which improves ride comfort without diminishing the car's dynamic abilities.
Redesign of the bracing has also made the steering column more rigid, which gives the driver better steering feel. Additional sound-proofing materials have improved noise and vibration levels in the cabin.
Fuel economy and emissions
Prius has maximum power of 100kW from the hybrid system which combines a beltless and highly efficient 1.8 litre petrol engine, a 650 Volt electric motor/generator and a 201.6 volt nickel-metal hydride battery.
With a full hybrid powertrain, Prius continues to deliver the lowest CO2 emissions in its class at 89 grams/km (combined cycle). It also delivers outstanding fuel efficiency at 3.9 litres/100km (combined cycle).
Model grades and equipment
The 2012 range retains its two grade line-up - Prius and Prius i-Tech.
Prius now has a reversing camera with the image viewed on a 6.1 inch EGA colour display.
The new model also incorporates daytime running lights, power retractable mirrors and the power-saving JBL Green Edge sound system with eight speakers and USB input jack.
The high-grade Prius i-Tech gains 17 inch alloys as standard plus an eight-way power driver's seat, seven inch VGA colour screen, hard disc drive satellite navigation, and new black leather-accented trim.
Previously a standard feature, the Prius i-Tech's solar ventilation system and remote air conditioning are now available as an option.
New colours are Dynamic Blue and Scarlet, for a total of eight colour choices.
Every Prius retains technologies that improve safety by providing 'at-a-glance' information, reducing the need for driver eye movement to allow better concentration on the road. A head-up display provides speed and other information on the windscreen in the driver's line of sight.
When the driver touches the audio or information controls on the steering-wheel hub, Toyota's world-first touch tracer system displays a duplicate read-out on the instrument panel.
The multi-information display monitors fuel and energy consumption, providing feedback that helps the driver employ economical driving habits.
Other standard safety features include nine airbags, vehicle stability and traction control, active front head restraints and anti-lock brakes.
In addition to driving like a conventional car, the hybrid system in Prius offers three driver-controlled modes: EV (electric vehicle), ECO and Power.
In EV the vehicle stays in electric-only mode for longer at lower speeds. The vehicle can operate up to about 50km/h for approximately 1-2km, depending on the state of charge.
In ECO the throttle is managed for fuel economy and the air-conditioning is strictly controlled.
Power mode provides maximum acceleration response.
Prius sales globally have surpassed 2.5 million, including more than 2,200 in New Zealand.
The revised Prius hatch will be available in Toyota showrooms from April.