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The all-new 2016 Toyota Prius has officially gone on sale in its home market in Japan, nary three months after it was unveiled to the world in Las Vegas. The world’s largest carmaker expects to sell 12,000 units of the fourth generation of the iconic hybrid a month in the Land of the Rising Sun.

First things first, the most important statistic on an eco-minded car like this – fuel economy. Toyota has confirmed that the Prius has surpassed the target fuel consumption figure of 40 km per litre, with a final combined figure of 40.8 km per litre on the Japanese JC08 cycle. That’s up from the 32.6 km per litre achieved by its predecessor.

That’s with the base-spec two-wheel drive E; other 2WD models get slightly less at 37.2 km per litre, while those equipped with the E-Four all-wheel drive system return 34.2 km per litre. Regardless, all exceed Japan’s 2020 fuel economy standards by at least 20%, and are eligible for local subsidies and tax incentives for eco-friendly vehicles.

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Powering the new Prius is a reengineered 97 hp/142 Nm 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle VVT-i petrol four-pot – now the most efficient internal combustion engine in the world, with maximum thermal efficiency figure of 40% – mated to a pair of 71 hp/163 Nm electric motors that are now smaller and lighter than before.

The optional E-Four system utilises a high-output rear motor to provide all-wheel drive as needed, such as in slippery conditions. The compact, lightweight system is fitted at the rear of the car underneath the boot floor, without compromising luggage space.

First to ride on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the new Prius has a lower centre of gravity than before, and torsional rigidity is up to 60% stiffer. There’s also a new double wishbone rear suspension that replaces the old torsion beam setup for improved ride and handling, as well as a new active hydraulic booster for regenerative braking to improve brake feel.

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The outlandish love-it-or-hate-it styling hides a car that’s now longer, wider and lower than before. Despite the lower roofline and rear deck, Toyota claims both improved headroom and luggage space (the latter to a sizeable 506 litres), as well as better visibility. Comfort is improved through new, more supportive seats, along with lower NVH thanks to a stiffer bodyshell as well as reduced distance between welded joints.

The interior gets a a wraparound dashboard design that extends into the door cards, as well as a more upright centre console now finished in gloss black. Also added is a wider instrument cluster with two 4.2 inch full-colour TFT LCD displays, a new full-colour head-up display as well as an S-flow air-con system that focuses airflow only at where the occupants are seated, to maximise comfort and fuel economy.

As standard, the base 2,429,018 yen (RM84,500) E is rather basic, coming with 15-inch alloy wheels with aero covers, black fabric four-way manually-adjustable seats, a basic console box with twin cupholders and a urethane steering wheel.

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Stepping up to the 2,479,091 yen (RM86,300) S gains an option of a cool grey interior scheme with turquoise stitching, synthetic leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat, a front console tray and a centre armrest.

For 2,777,563 yen (RM96,700), the A variant throws in front fog lights, gloss white trim pieces, soft-touch upper door pads and the Toyota Safety Sense P suite with Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Radar Cruise Control, an Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) that prevents collisions resulting from pedal misapplication, Simple Intelligent Parking Assist and a Blind Spot Monitor.

At the top of the range sits the 3,107,455 yen (RM108,100) A Premium, adding genuine leather upholstery and steering wheel wrap, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a synthetic leather centre armrest. All bar the E model get the option of E-Four, as well as the Touring Selection package that includes 17-inch wheels, a sportier rear apron insert and synthetic leather upholstery on the S and A variants.