The latest update to the Toyota Prius is the biggest one in the 10-year history of the iconic hybrid. With a completely new platform and smarter, more economical drivetrain and in-car comfort, the new Prius is 13 per cent more efficient than its predecessors — Toyota says it'll sip just 3.4 litres of fuel per 100km of driving.
The new Prius is the first car in Australia to benefit from Toyota's New Global Architecture, a flexible modular platform that also underpins the new C-HR concept. In the Prius, it's used in a front-wheel drive configuration and promises a lower centre of gravity, more room inside and a stiffer frame for better handling. The 2016 Prius actually has an extremely low drag coefficient of just 0.24, putting it far ahead of some of its hybrid competitors.
That's one half of the improvements that contribute to a 12.8 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency over the outgoing model. Lighter and smaller electric motors, an improved hybrid battery and power converter, and an overhaul to the Prius' 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder petrol engine mean that the new series hybrid consumes just 3.4 litres of fuel over 100km of combined Australian driving. That's half a litre down on last generation's 3.9 litres per 100km, which itself was one of the most efficient petrol cars on Aussie roads.
Where the old Prius was more of a straightforward, A-to-B driving appliance, the new Prius even looks cooler, and that reflects the fact that it's more fun to drive — the lower centre of gravity and stiffer chassis, along with redesigned front and rear suspension, translate the futuristic looks into real-world driving. Its overall combined petrol and electric power output may only be 90kW, but Toyota says it's nonetheless much more responsive than the old car, and there's a "power" driving mode that offers full juice from the get go.
The new Prius actually looks a lot more up to date inside, too. The dashboard's central display is a big, iPad-esque 7-inch multi-touch display, and the centre-mounted digital dash has two 4.2-inch LCDs with live-output car and drivetrain info appearing as you drive. The up-spec i-Tech model even has a wireless charging bay for your Qi-compatible smartphone in the centre console. The new car starts at $34,990, with the top-of-the-line i-Tech at $42,990; Toyota also includes its capped-price servicing, at a maximum of $140 at a time. [Toyota]