Mike Stevens | Jan 11, 2012

Two years ago, Toyota boss Akio Toyota promised to inject a new level of passion and style into the world number one carmaker's line-up.

In recent months, we've seen the Yaris light car and Camry midsizer both take a sharp new design direction, and the new 86 coupe has brought the company back to its sporting roots. Now, there's this: the NS4 plug-in hybrid sports sedan concept.

Entering as a radical departure from the brand's usual hybrid styling (think Prius), Toyota says that while the NS4 is strictly a design and technology study, elements of its styling will eventually filter down to the showroom.

"In this digital age, cars are becoming another spoke in the wheel of our electronic connectivity. NS4 demonstrates Toyota's take on the human connection to the car with technology that considers both emotional and rational relationships, person-to-car and car-to-society," Toyota USA boss Jim Lentz said.

Technical details for the concept have not been revealed, although Toyota promises an "advanced" plug-in hybrid powertrain.

If it's anything like the upcoming Prius PHEV, the concept will combine a lithium-ion battery with an electric motor and the regular Prius hybrid's 1.8 litre petrol engine. Fuel consumption for the Prius PHEV is listed at an ultra-low 2.2 l/100km.

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