The next generation Toyota Prius may feature all-wheel drive - or at least, that's one possibility currently being entertained by Toyota's engineers.
The current Prius (and every generation of the popular hybrid before it) takes all drive to its front wheels, with the electric drive motor integrated with the petrol engine and its CVT transmission.
However, a different tactic may be employed for the next-gen Prius.
Taking a leaf out of the Lexus NX 300h's book, the new Prius - which is expected to be unveiled in late 2015 - may house its electric drive motor on the rear axle, leaving the petrol engine all by its lonesome at the front of the car.
Speaking to Automotive News, Toyota's senior manager of powertrain development for the next Prius, Koei Saga, said that Toyota's new fuel-sipper will be substantially different from its predecessor.
"The batteries will be renewed. Everything will be revised," he said.
"I think we will come up with a fuel economy that will surprise everyone."
And when asked about whether AWD was being considered, Saga replied "I think we will possibly do it". Whether that's as an option to a more traditional FWD setup or not has yet to be made clear.
Battery tech is also expected to receive a major upgrade, and Toyota is rumoured to be preparing two different battery techonologies to be offered in the new Prius - an advanced high-capacity lithium-ion battery, and a lower capacity, but cheaper, nickel metal hydride set up.
Other expected features include a boosted EV-only range (which will most likely only be offered with the lithium-ion battery), a combined fuel economy figure of as low as 3.5 l/100km as well as wireless charging via an inductive loop installed in a garage floor.
The size and weight of the powertrain is also expected to be reduced, and Toyota's New Global Architecture (TNGA) will help reduce the cost of manufacturing the next-generation Prius.
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