Toyota adds 2.4-litre front-drive saloon to hybrid range
21 October 2009

The Toyota SAI is the latest entry into Toyota’s ever growing family of hybrids.

Launched at the Tokyo motor show, the long rumoured SAI, which at one point was being considered for Europe, comes in above the Prius as Toyota’s new 2.4-litre, front-drive hybrid saloon.

Essentially, a reworked version of the Lexus HS250h that’s already on sale in the US and Japan, SAI has the same overall profile with those long, sloping A and C pillars and broad shoulder lines running along the top of the doors.

But Toyota has made the SAI almost four inches shorter and up to 70 kgs lighter than the HS250h. The SAI also get subtly different head and tail light treatment, new grille, bonnet, wings and so on.

Power comes from the same 2.4-litre hybrid system as the HS. This sees Toyota’s long running 2362 cc four cylinder engine (now with Atkinson cycle) team up with an electric motor and reduction gear, with nickel-metal hydride battery pack mounted beneath the boot floor. Total system power stands at 140 kW (or 187bhp).

Curiously, although it’s smaller and lighter, the SAI registers the exact same super frugal 56-65mpg as the more plush HS250h in Japan’s economy cycle, while C02 is an equally impressive 101-107g/km.

Inside, the SAI is clearly a lot plainer and less fancy than the HS250h and while base versions look reasonable value at around £24,000, you’ll need to shell out £30,000 for a top spec one.

Further afield, although Toyota won’t confirm it, the SAI’s 2.4-litre hybrid is also expected to drop into the upcoming Lexus compact premium hatch, due in 2011, that Japanese sources suggest may be called CT200h.

At Frankfurt, Lexus gave an early pointer to this new premium A3 challenging hybrid player, of course, via the LF-Ch concept which may also spawn an SUV.

Peter Nunn

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