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New Prius world's most aerodynamic

2009-01-13 06:53
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Toyota
Model Prius
Engine 1.8l, magnet synchronous
Power 100kW
Torque 359Nm
Transmission CVT
Zero To Hundred 10 seconds
Fuel Consumption 4.7l/100km
Tyres 195/65R15 (optional: 215/45R17)
Claiming the world’s lowest drag coefficient, Toyota’s third generation Prius has debuted at the Detroit auto show.

The car which effectively brought full petrol/electric hybrid drive technology to the masses, the new Prius sports the same wheelbase as its predecessor, being only 15mm longer due to the cowl being moved forward.

Styling more mainstream

Styling is largely evolutionary, with a silhouette similar to the previous range. Designers have pandered to the aerodynamic principles of minimal drag and not necessarily aesthetics– the new car has a Cd of only 0.25.

Viewed from the front the look is more inline with family familiar Toyota design language; whilst the larger, swept back headlights, and central bonnet styling crease adds some necessary visual tension.

Cool interior

Interior design introduces a new, neater looking multifunction steering wheel and rather busy centre console redesign; thankfully the shifter has migrated from the dash to a more traditional centre console position.

The dual tone steering wheel features Touch Tracer; a technology which image duplicates audio of info switch technology. As the driver touches the relevant steering wheel buttons, corresponding images are rendered on the instrument panel above the steering wheel, keeping everything in the driver’s responsible field of vision.

Other clever interior technologies include battery operated air-conditioning which can be remotely adjusted to ensure the car is cooled before passengers enter. The optional moonroof with solar panels power a separate ventilation system that automatically regulates the temperature of a parked Prius; ensuring it’s as cool on return from the shopping centre as it was when originally parked.

New safety features include a Lexus migrated radar-based dynamic cruise control system with an integrated lane departure warning system and dual knee airbags for front passengers.

Bigger engine

Powering the third generation model is a larger 1.8l Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine (replacing the previous 1.5l) charging up a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Internal combustion power is rated 73kW and 142Nm.

The Prius magnet synchronous motor produces 60kW and 207Nm, rendering a net maximum combined output of 100kW.

In an attempt to increase operating efficiency the petrol engine features exhaust gas recirculation to enhance fuel economy (reintroducing cooled gas back into the intake manifold to reduce pumping losses), and an electrically driven water pump - eliminating the need for a power-robbing belt driven ancillaries.

The front transaxle (which houses the car's electric motors and planetary continuously variable transmission) is now lighter too, reducing claimed torque losses by up to 20% according to Toyota.

Performance is unsurprisingly a better blend of urge and economy. Expect a 0-100km/h time of around 10 seconds, and more importantly, combined cycle fuel economy of 4.7l/100km.

Suspension is a carryover in design from the previous generation, with higher wheel caster angle improving stability. Disc brakes are now used on all four corners, replacing the front disc/rear drum brakes in the current model and featuring better regenerative properties.

Toyota expects to sell 180 000 new Prius models in North American alone when the new car goes on sale later this year.


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