Our spies have snapped the third-generation Prius testing ahead of its launch next year. Beneath the cladding it’s clear that much of the current car’s distinctive styling has been carried forward, but we also know that the new version of the iconic hybrid is going to be bigger than its predecessor.
Toyota has big plans for the new Prius, which it hopes will help it to extend its leadership in sales of hybrids. Over a million examples of the first two versions have been sold, with the car being a smash hit in America.
Sources within Toyota say that the new car will be about 10cm longer and 3cm wider than the current car. In addition, the car’s hybrid drivetrain and battery pack will be more tightly packaged, further increasing interior accommodation.
The Prius’s petrol engine will increase in capacity from 1.5-litres to 1.8-litres, with the new motor using advanced tech to deliver more power, better efficiency and lower emissions. Sources inside Toyota indicate that the new Prius should be capable of delivering a combined economy figure of over 70mpg, with CO2 emissions just over 90g/km.
When it is launched the Prius will keep a version of the current car’s nickel metal hydride batteries. More efficient Lithium ion batteries will be introduced as a running update revision, probably in 2010, with Toyota being keen to perfect the new technology without risking the Prius’s reputation for reliability.
We also know that Honda is considering using the Prius hatchback as the basis for a wider range of vehicles, collectively sold under the Prius brand.