2016 Toyota Prius - 18% fuel efficiency gain

Fourth generation of hybrid hatchback - CO2 emissions expected to dip below 75g/km...

2016 Toyota Prius - 18% fuel efficiency gain

This is the 2016 Toyota Prius.

What is it?

The fourth generation of Toyota’s Prius marks a major shift for the hybrid: it moves onto a new set of components that will underpin a lot of future Toyota products in years to come. The new set of parts brings a more sophisticated chassis set-up than the existing car’s and Toyota is already claiming that it will make this Prius a more interesting drive than its efficient but fairly anodyne predecessors.

The emphasis will still be on remarkable fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, though. The Prius gets a new version of Toyota’s hybrid powertrain, which mixes a 1.8-litre petrol engine with electric motors that are fuelled by more advanced batteries than before. The petrol engine produces 97bhp while the electric motor puts out 71bhp.

There will also be a more advanced regenerative braking system that's quieter and gives a more natural feel to the brake pedal.

Official fuel economy figures haven't been announced, but Toyota officials have spoken of efficiency gains of around 18% compared with the outgoing model’s. That should give the Prius CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km.

The front of the Prius gets more dramatic headlights and complex surfacing on the bumper while the side profile is helped by a blacked-out C-pillar that’s designed to create a ‘floating roof’. The rear has clear cues from the recently-launched Mirai fuel cell vehicle, meanwhile, including the deep crease above the back wheels, extremely tall tail-lights and a spoiler integrated into the hatchback glass.

What’s it like inside?

Toyota has been focusing on simplifying its dashboards and the Prius continues that trend, with a huge slab of gloss-black finish and an infotainment display mounted in the centre of the fascia. The gear selector for the Prius’s version of a CVT transmission appears to be mounted on a near-vertical surface at the bottom of the dashboard, freeing up space between the front seats.

There's also a digital instrument panel, colour head-up display and an air-conditioning system that recognises which seats are occupied and adjusts itself accordingly.

How much will it cost?

The new Prius is due on sale in the UK in the first quarter of 2016. Prices are likely to stay broadly in line with the current edition’s, with a starting figure of around £22,000.