The electric revolution is coming, and while enthusiasts aren’t exactly embracing the technology just yet, electric vehicle makers like Tesla are showing that zero-emissions running does at least not have to come at the expense of performance. And with its new RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, so is Toyota.

You see, this rather adventurously-styled family SUV comes with quite a lot of power under the bonnet. Sure, the 2.5 litre Atkinson-cycle engine, shared with the regular Hybrid model, isn’t going to set your pants on fire – it makes the same 176 hp, but adds a bit more torque at 228 Nm, made slightly lower down the rev range at 2,800 rpm. This, Toyota says, does improve low-speed acceleration.

But it’s the more powerful electric motors that deliver the biggest net gain, taking total output to an estimated 302 hp. That’s 84 hp more than the Hybrid, and to give you a sense of perspective, that’s exactly the same amount of power as the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and BMW M135i hot hatches. Those are not slow cars.

Neither is the Prime – despite being saddled with a lack of a conventional transmission (it will likely get the same electronic CVT as the Hybrid), Toyota is targeting a zero-to-100 km/h figure of just 6.2 seconds. On the flip side, a new high-capacity lithium-ion battery will help deliver an all-electric range of 60 km on the WLTP cycle, as well as carbon dioxide emissions of under 30 grams per kilometre.

Range-enhancing features include an enhanced heat pump for the climate control system, adapted from the Prius Prime, to reduce energy consumption during the regulation of cabin temperature. There’s also the Hybrid’s Predictive Efficient Drive feature that reads the road and learns the driver patterns to optimise battery charging and discharging, even “remembering” features such as hills and traffic lights.

Just like the Hybrid, the Prime is fitted with a separate rear electric motor to provide all-wheel drive, working when needed to reduce understeer and improve traction on slippery surfaces. A selectable Trail mode turns on torque vectoring by braking, clamping a spinning wheel and forcing torque to instead be delivered to the wheel with the most grip. The range-topping XSE variant also gets the RAV4’s first ever paddle shifters.

You can tell the Prime apart from lesser siblings through the unique front spoiler with chrome trim, as well as piano black body mouldings instead of bare plastic. While the standard SE is equipped with 18-inch two-tone alloys, the XSE receives exclusive 19-inch rollers – the biggest ever fitted to a hybrid RAV4. The XSE also comes with vertical LED accent lights on the corners of the front bumpers.

Tags: