UMW Toyota Motor launched the new Prius c in Sunway this evening. The Prius c, known as Aqua in Japan, is an all new hybrid model for the B-segment, meant to go head-to-head with the Honda Insight. It has been teased before, but we can now confirm that the price is indeed RM97,000 on the road including insurance.

This RM97k price is quite a bit lower from the initial RM104k price estimated by UMWT last month, and makes the Prius c look even better value against the RM99,812.15 Honda Insight, which is its main rival. Till now, the brisk selling Insight has been the most affordable hybrid car in Malaysia, and the only one priced below RM100k.

We understand that the lower final price vs the higher initial estimate wasn’t a deliberate “strategy” but a result of hard work till the very end on UMWT’s part. We have to agree that it’s a great price for what’s on offer.

The Prius c is powered by Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive “full hybrid” system, which here consists of a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. The former is the 1NZ-FXE engine related to the one in the Vios. However, for this hybrid application, the VVT-i mill runs on an Atkinson cycle with a higher compression ratio (13.4:1) and unique valve open/close characteristics. It makes 73 PS and 111 Nm of torque.

The electric motor in question makes 61 PS and 169 Nm of torque, and the total system output is 101 PS. The motor is powered by a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery located under the rear seats (max output is 19.3 kW).

Other HSD components are the power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter, a step up converter and a hybrid control computer. The HSD system in the Prius c is 42 kg lighter than the HSD in the Prius, contributing to an overall low kerb weight of 1,140 kg.

Drive goes to the front wheels via a CVT gearbox. The Prius c rides on front McPherson struts and a rear torsion beam. Brakes consist of front ventilated discs and rear drums, the former providing energy regeneration to the battery. The steering system is EPS and the car rolls on 185/60 R15 alloys.

There are three selectable modes for the driver – Normal, ECO and EV. ECO reduces energy consumption by altering throttle response and air-con performance, because nothing comes for free! Go for EV mode and the car runs purely on batteries – this can be done at speeds of up to 45 km/h, and when you have sufficient charge, of course.

In the European combined cycle, the Prius c manages 25.6 km/l, which matches the Prius and is class leading. Toyota says that its 0-100 km/h of 10.7 seconds is also best in class.

Dimensions wise, the Prius c is smaller than the Honda Insight. Overall length for this standard shaped (no “signature hybrid look” here) five-door hatchback is below four metres, or 400 mm shorter than the Honda, but its 2,550 mm wheelbase matches the Insight. The width of both cars are identical as well.

Exterior aero reducing cues include the “pagoda” roof, “aerocorners” on the bumper, a flush underbody and aero stabilising fins around the car. The “under priority” trapezoidal front grille is designed for optimised aero/cooling.

Inside, the Prius c doesn’t have the Prius’ high centre console and tiny gear knob, but the dashboard is still interestingly styled. The Multi Info Display is a 3.5-inch full colour panel that shows everything from an Energy Monitor to an ECO Score. FC records are shown in a bar graph in 5-minute intervals.

Another cool feature is Touch Tracer from the Prius. The two control pads on the (flat bottom) steering wheel are touch sensitive, and when you press them, a duplicate image appears on the instrument panel. On the options list is UMWT’s DVD-AVN system – it’s a 2-DIN audio unit with 6.1-inch colour touchscreen, navigation system and reverse camera. It costs RM2,990.

The Prius c is richly equipped for the price. Besides the above mentioned unique features, standard kit includes seven airbags (front, side, curtain, driver’s knee), TRC (traction control), VSC (vehicle stability control), ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, auto climate control, cruise control and keyless entry with start button.

Five colours are available – pearl white, silver, black, citrus orange and red – the latter two were shown at the launch. The red car you see in our gallery comes with a full original Toyota bodykit, “blacked out” mouth and 16-inch wheels. These add ons are not available yet, but will be soon.

Once again, the Prius c is priced at RM97,000 on the road including insurance. The waiting list currently stands at “two to three months” according to UMWT.