Toyota Prius E-Four 4

The fourth-generation Toyota Prius may have already made its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, but the new hybrid was the star of the Toyota stand at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, with no less than four cars on display at the event.

Although we’re familiar the bold, avant-garde Mirai-inspired styling, it still polarises opinion; most in the office are firmly in the “hate it” camp. Unlikely to sway them into team “love it” is the retina-searing Japan-only Thermo-Tec Green hue shown here – Toyota may claim it “mitigates increases in exterior surface temperature,” but it’s certainly not going to cool down the heated debate on its looks anytime soon.

But most will agree it’s at least a sleeker design than before. That’s partly because of the rejigged dimensions – the new Prius is now 60 mm longer (4,540 mm), 15 mm wider (1,760 mm) and 20 mm lower (1,470 mm) than before, although the wheelbase remains the same at 2,700 mm. It’s also more aerodynamic than before with the inclusion of an automatic grille shutter, bringing drag coefficient down to just 0.24 Cd.

Toyota Prius E-Four 11

More changes abound inside, with 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.

Active safety features include 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, a Blind Spot Monitor as well as the new ITS Connect vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication service.

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 improved visibility. Moreover, comfort is improved through new seats that provide a snug fit and chiropractic control as well as improved posture and cushioning, plus improved NVH thanks to a stiffer bodyshell as well as reduced distance between welded joints.

Under the skin, the new Prius is the first car to ride on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) which is said to lower the centre of gravity and increase torsional rigidity (claimed to be up to 60% stiffer than before). There’s also a new double wishbone rear suspension (replacing the old torsion beam setup) to improve ride and handling, as well as a new active hydraulic booster for regenerative braking to improve brake feel.

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. Fuel efficiency is targeted to hit 40 km per litre on the JC08 cycle, up from 32.6 km per litre of its predecessor.

This particular unit is fitted with the E-Four system that 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.