Hybrid, News, Hatchback

Toyota reveals all-new Prius Plug-in

The new Toyota Prius Plug-in has been unveiled, and is now able to cover double the distance of its predecessor – more than 30 miles – and achieve much higher speeds in all-electric, emissions-free driving.

The second generation Prius Plug-in is built on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform as the standard, full hybrid Prius. Combined with specifically tuned suspension, it delivers ‘much-improved handling dynamics' says Toyota.

The latest model also benefits from a number of new technologies that increase efficiency, performance and practicality, including a Dual Motor EV drive system and a Battery Warming system - plus two world firsts: an EV range-extending solar roof and gas-injection heat pump air conditioning.

Toyota’s first hybrid powertrain to feature the Dual Motor Drive System, which is a compact, one-way gear within the transaxle enabling the hybrid system generator to act as a second electric motor, results in increased EV power by around 83 per cent. This boosts EV driving power, giving better acceleration, more engaging performance and a higher maximum EV speed of 84mph.

A large-capacity lithium-ion battery, located under the rear load space, is fundamental to new Prius Plug-in’s increased EV driving range. Its capacity has been doubled from 4.4 to 8.8kW/h, yet its volume has only increased by two thirds – from 87 to 145 litres.

During charging, a new battery warming system will bring the cells up to an efficient working temperature, even when external temperatures drop as low as -20°C. This ensures battery power and efficiency are maintained at a sufficient level to minimise the impact of cold weather on the EV driving range, with full power available from start-off.

The increase in maximum power from 2.0 to 3.3kW means the battery can be fully charged up to 65 per cent more quickly – in two hours when using the Type II Mode III Mennekes connector, or three hours 10 minutes using a standard household plug socket.

The new gas-injection heat pump powers the air conditioning, that contributes to Prius Plug-in’s greater efficiency. It can heat the cabin without starting the engine, even when outside temperatures are at -10°C, minimising the impact on fuel consumption and EV driving range.

Meanwhile, the roof can also be fitted with a large solar panel to generate electricity to charge the hybrid battery. When the vehicle is parked (but not plugged in to a charging socket), the solar roof charges an intermediate solar battery. When this is fully charged, it will deliver a 'pumping charge' to the main hybrid battery.

Styling wise, the Prius Plug-in has a ‘highly aerodynamic’ design, building on the Prius profile with dedicated styling elements including daytime running lights and LED indicators set vertically at the extreme edge of the front wings. The Prius Plug-in is distinguished by its longer rear overhang, lower cowl and rear spoiler heights and model-specific, two-tone 15-inch alloy wheels, designed to provide extra brake cooling.

On the inside, a revised layout provides two rear seats separated by a console unit, ‘maximising space and comfort for passengers’. The front seat design and clean, structural arrangement of the dashboard are shared with the standard Prius. The instrumentation includes a large, eight-inch infotainment screen with updated graphics and dual 4.2-inch TFT screens with PHV-specific displays.

Available in the UK in two specifications – Business Edition Plus and Excel - Toyota Safety Sense will be standard on both versions, including the Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Alert with steering control, Adaptive Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist. Additional safety features include a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Comfort and convenience items include dual-zone automatic air conditioning, rear passenger footwell heating and Smart Entry and Start.

The Business Edition Plus specification includes the Toyota Touch 2 with Go touchscreen multimedia and navigation system, heated, auto-dimming door mirrors with an automatic retracting function, rear view camera, dusk-sensing LED headlights, colour head-up display, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio with DAB reception and heated front seats. The solar roof system can be specified as an option for the Business Edition Plus model.

Excel models extend the specification with rain-sensing wipers, Simple Intelligent Park Assist and front and rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system, voice recognition control for the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia and navigation system and leather upholstery.

On-the-road prices start at £31,695 for the Business Edition Plus model (£33,195 with the solar roof option) and £33,895 for the Excel - while the UK Government’s plug-in car grant can provide £2,500 towards the vehicle purchase cost.