Toyota is presenting its vision for an advanced future plug-in hybrid saloon at the Detroit motor show today. The Toyota NS4 also acts as a preview for Toyota's future design language, which "aims to make an emotional connection with customers".
Toyota has not yet confirmed the exact details of the NS4's powertrain. The Japanese firm has however said the system is both smaller and lighter than current plug-in hybrid set-ups, including the one featured in its own Toyota Prius plug-in. Toyota claims this new system also improves fuel economy, acceleration and all-electric range, while preserving a “short” recharge time.
Toyota is acutely aware of its need to make its designs much more distinctive, the NS4 being a preview of what we can expect from future Toyotas. The front grille is much bolder, and the a sculpted front bumper, lower spoiler and LED daytime running lights also help contribute to a more recognisable 'face'.
At the rear, there are wraparound lights that are meant to resemble a rear spoiler. The NS4 has also been designed with interior space and access in mind; a trick roofline and powered 'swan-wing' doors are the evidence of this.
Other features of NS4 include its advanced infotainment system and a preview of Toyota's next-generation of safety equipment. The NS4 gets a touchscreen in the centre console, which is designed to resemble a smartphone. It controls everything from heater controls to an iPod, and is claimed to present information in a clear, simple way to minimise driver distraction.
New safety tech includes a next-gen pre-collision detection system, a new blind-spot monitor and adaptive headlights. A clever pop-up bonnet also features, which raises the rear of the bonnet in the event of a pedestrian collision to help prevent head injuries.
Toyota has also equipped the NS4 with new glass technology that is lighter and more aerodynamic to improve economy, and is more resistant to rain and fogging for better visibility. Conventional mirrors have been replaced with cameras, which are claimed to offer a wider field of vision.
"By 2015 we hope to have hybrids in other models as cars like the Prius and hybrid tech will be fully accepted,' said Jim Lentz, Toyota US president. "The plug-in hybrid technology will be a natural progression for hybrids and by 2015 it will be smaller, lighter, have better economy and range and a faster charger time. Cars will also be connected to all parts of our lives so it's important to evolve human interface technologies in the interior. It will be exciting to see what concepts are at Detroit in 2015."