Over the past decade the Toyota Prius has become synonymous with hybrid technology and nearly one million units have been sold in the US alone. Locally the car’s hefty price tag has kept monthly sales volumes in the single figures and low teens, but in Japan and North America sales have been remarkably buoyant.
It’s on the back of this success that Toyota has shown the Prius v and Prius c Concept – one a roomier five-seat MPV and the other a Yaris-sized supermini – as a preview of what to expect from the Prius model line-up in the future.
The v, which stands for “versatile”, is a roomier and more family-oriented version of the current Prius.
The Prius v and Prius both share the same platform and 1,8-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor, but has been designed from the ground up. As such, the v is 127 mm longer and 25,4 mm wider, with more legroom and headroom for all five passengers. The luggage capacity has also been increased by 50 per cent to 971 dm3. That compares well with most SUVs on our roads.
Versatility has been enhanced further by the addition of slide-adjustable rear seats that can recline up to 45 degrees and a folding front passenger seat that allows for the loading of especially long objects.
A resin-based panoramic sunroof with retractable sunshades is available as an option and not only brightens up the cabin, but weighs 40 per cent less than a conventional glass sunroof. Weight-saving is important since the Prius v is larger and heavier than the Prius, but still needs to offer acceptable fuel consumption figures (currently this is claimed to be roughly 5,88 l/100 km for the combined cycle).
Standard equipment includes four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV), a smart key system with push-button start, electronic shift lever, hill start assist control (HAC) and a rear-view camera as well seven air bags and stability and traction control.
Available options include LED headlamps, dynamic radar cruise control with a pre-collision system and an advanced parking guidance system.
The Prius v will also debut Toyota’s new Entune multimedia system, which offers the ability to download apps and to upgrade your navigation and entertainment systems. It makes use of voice recognition technology and promises to be extremely user-friendly thanks to the display audio system.
The Prius v goes on sale in the US mid-2011. According to a local Toyota spokesperson, the Prius v is not currently being considered for a South African introduction, probably due to the popularity of the Verso in that segment.
Another vehicle that will probably not make it to our shores is the production version of the Prius c Concept when it goes on sale in North America early in 2012.
Even though it’s much smaller than the Prius, the Prius c Concept remains a five-door hatch and will be aimed at young singles and couples and other city drivers. It’s possible that the production version may be a three-door hatch, making it a direct competitor for the stylish Honda CR-Z.
Toyota has released few other details on the c Concept other than that the production version will be the most fuel-efficient hybrid (that doesn’t make use of plug-in technology) available and that it will also be the most value-oriented hybrid in the market.
The engine bay will probably be too small for the current 1,8-litre unit and it’s possible that the c Concept will make use of a 1,0-litre or 1,3-litre powertrain.