Toyota Prius Wagon enters production in Japan

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 13, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. has started production of the newest member of the Toyota Prius family – the new wagon-style Toyota Prius. It will have its global sales debut in April 2011 in Japan and this will be followed by launches in the U.S. and Europe. At a preview and test drive for journalists in Japan, Toyota showed a roomier gasoline-electric hybrid that rides higher and heavier than the conventional Prius, says Automotive News.

The test cars driven and viewed by journalists had their nameplates concealed in thick black tape. For a more van-like command, the driver sits 1.2 inches higher.

Kenichi Kanada, a body design engineer on the new Prius, said the wagon weighs about 220 pounds more than the standard Prius but it has the same drivetrain.

This means the wagon can’t match the original car’s 9.8-second 0-60 mph time. The extended rear cargo space cuts out the hatchback's split rear window, but it also increases the car’s drag coefficient to 0.29, from the standard Prius' 0.25. Some wagon improvements include a version with a high-capacity lithium ion battery and the carmaker's latest computer mouse-inspired one-dial climate control button.

Other features of the new Prius include an optional polycarbonate panoramic moon roof. The moon roof is the largest in the carmaker's lineup and the first made out of resin, which weighs 40 percent less than glass.

According to Japan’s Nikkei business daily, the wagon will start at JPY2.35 million ($28,600) in Japan, compared with a starting price of JPY2.05 million ($24,900) for the standard Prius.

The front part of the new Toyota Prius + reflects the brand’s trapezoidal Under Priority design. It features a chrome-plated horizontal trim with an upper grille opening made small enough to allow a smooth airflow throughout the upper body. On the other hand, the lower grille was made large enough to boost engine cooling efficiency. The halogen headlamp clusters have sharp edges and tops that include a revision of the curved line detail.

This marks the first time for this to be seen on the present generation Prius, strengthening the new hybrid position in the Prius family line-up. The bumper extremities have flat, vertical surfaces that accommodate LED Daytime Running Lights or DRLs to strengthen the car’s broad stance and driving stability as well as create 'aero-corners' to correct airflow while it passes above the front wheels to reduce turbulence in the wheel arches.

In profile, it is easy to recognize the iconic, Prius family triangle silhouette. The design DNA of the Toyota Prius+ has evolved into a strong spindle shape as a result of the bonnet’s long, seamless flow, roofline and A-pillar, a clean sweep of full-length side glazing highlighted by blacked-out B-pillars and C-pillars as well as a rising crease line in the lower bodywork, which flows continuously into the rear bumper.

The Toyota Prius has distinct real styling emphasized by a top hinged tailgate flanked on both sides by large lamp clusters accompanied by Synergy Blue ornamentation that runs around the bodywork’s corners to improve visibility. The rear lamps have a wide space between them to make the most of the tailgate opening width and to strengthen the broad, stable rear stance. The continuous merging of airflow from the sides and roof of the bodywork plays a vital role in the aerodynamic efficiency of the Prius+.

The body narrows in plan form and airflow from the vehicle is curved by a roof spoiler enhanced in angle and length, an “air kick” shape fitted into the rear lamp clusters as well as aero corners of the rear bumper.

Additionally, front and rear spats are fitted in front of every wheel arch to curb airflow variations around the tires, thus, enhancing straight-line steering performance and stability. Combining these comprehensive aerodynamic measures provide the new Prius+ with a top-of-its-class drag coefficient of only Cd 0.28.

Toyota badging and 'Hybrid' badge on the front wing as well as the hybrid blue lamp ornamentation indicates the presence of Hybrid Synergy Drive. The Prius+ comes in seven colors for the exterior such as Toyota’s distinct White Pearl finish. The 16-inch alloy wheels coupled with aerodynamic wheel caps plus 17-inch aluminum alloys come with tires that have 5% less rolling-resistance than those included in the standard Prius.

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