Exterior body changes have drastically improved the aerodynamics and reduced the wind resistance over the previous model. The new auto bi-beam LED headlights with automatic levelling feature a single lens, helping to keep the bonnet height low, whilst also creating a striking appearance from the curved LED DRLs.
There are more striking features on the inside with a large portion of the plastic trim painted white, offering a startling contrast that you’ll either love or loathe. This took me back to the ‘90s when vehicles were personalised by their owners where any plastic trim that could be easily removed was painted.
Prius is all about efficiency and getting the most out of the Hybrid technology whilst using the least amount of power. The hybrid system - the electric motor, transaxle, power control unit and hybrid batteries - is now smaller and lighter. And, it also has a very efficient operating temperate due to lower viscosity engine oil that reduces internal friction and a dual cooling system.
The auto air con is smarter, smaller and lighter, and it now uses less power than before. By registering whether the seats are occupied or not, it’s able to adjust ventilation and heating performance accordingly, minimising airflow around empty seats. It also monitors the air con temperature settings, external temperature and amount of sunlight, to calculate the most efficient operating parameters.
Toyota’s Safety Sense package has also been added to the 4th gen Prius as a standard feature. The seven airbags and a ring shaped reinforced frame, provide a stronger cabin safety cell if an accident occurs. While Toyota still awaits a crash test, they’re hoping to achieve a 5 star ANCAP safety rating for the 2016 Prius.
No Plug-in for New Zealand
It’s still a no plug-in hybrid, but after driving around the countryside I found it just does its thing, switching from petrol to electric while consuming small amounts of fuel. Like the Lexus hybrid, it is quite difficult to maintain EV mode as the engine kicks into life as soon as you accelerate more than a quarter of the throttle. And while driving, it did feel as though I should be silently roaming around town transporting paying passenger’s home after a night on the town.
At a glance
|Model variants||GX (plus Touring package), ZR|
|Engine||1.8L VVTi petrol|
|Price||$47,490 (GX) - $54,990 (ZR)|
|ANCAP||To be announced|
|Power||72 kW, 90 kW combined with electric|
|7 airbags||Emergency Brake Signal|
|Pre-crash system||Stability Control, ABS with Brake Assist|
|Lane Departure Alert||Electronically controlled Brake regeneration|
|All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control||Electronic Brakeforce Distribution|
|Blind spot monitor (ZR only)||Rear cross traffic alert (ZR only)|