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Brand New Toyota Prius

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Mike Stevens | May 22, 2009

THIS WEEK MARKS the launch of Toyota’s third generation Prius in Japan. After a long and teasing lead-up of information, photos and specifications, the new Prius looks set to build on the 1.25 million sales amassed to date for Toyota’s hybrid warrior.

Boasting a '90 percent-new' hybrid drive system, with a larger 1.8 litre petrol engine, the new Prius is set to better the fuel economy of the current model. A refined shape with a drag coefficient of just 0.25 also helps reduce drag and improve economy figures.

2009-prius-rear

With the new Prius set to arrive in more than 80 countries around the world, release dates for other markets will be staggered to keep up with demand. Already, Toyota has over 75,000 orders, a promising sign that the new model is on the right track.

Under the skin, Toyota engineers have worked to extract gains in fuel efficiency while the adoption of a larger engine means higher torque outputs for higher-speed cruising.

2009-prius-hybrid-synergy-drive

An exhaust heat recovery system is used to aid engine warm-up and for the interior heating. The engine also operates without a traditional serpentine belt, utilizing an electric water pump to reduce inefficient powertrain losses.

The transaxle and batteries have both been redesigned to reduce weight and are smaller externally than before.

2009-prius-interior

A range of high tech interior innovations are also featured in the new Prius to reinforce its position as a technological tour-de-force. A world first Touch Tracer Display links touch controls on the steering wheel to a display in the instrument panel to simplify operation of the air conditioning and audio systems.

Optional solar ventilation uses roof-mounted solar panels to circulate fresh air through the cabin, keeping temperatures down and reducing the load on the air-conditioning. The air-conditioning can also be triggered from outside the vehicle with the push of a button on the Smart Key.

Ecological Plastic is used for the driver's seat cushion, scuff plates and other interior components. LED lights are used for low beams to help reduce power consumption.

2009-toyota-prius

Thanks to the smaller battery pack and the use of slimmer front seats, interior room is also increased. Cargo capacity is up by 30 litres over the second generation Prius.

On the safety front, the Prius will be available with six airbags, active head restraints and Ssteering-assisted Vehicle Stability Control (S-VSC). A Pre-crash Safety System is also on offer, which can detect an imminent crash and prepare the vehicles safety systems in readiness for impact.

The Prius' developers also looked at factors like CO2 emissions throughout a car's life cycle. As such, the Prius already complies with Japanese fuel efficiency standards for 2015 and undercuts current standards set in 2005 by 75 percent.

With new competition in the form of Honda’s Insight, plus the increased efficiency of modern diesel competitors, the new Prius looks to have a fight on its hands. Toyota’s engineers have been hard at work to deliver a car which delivers more space, style and power in an increasingly environmentally-friendly package.

We'll give you the drum when it arrives here and we can get behind the wheel.

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