Toyota has launched a new Prius Hybrid AWD-i, featuring an extra electric motor that can send power to the rear wheels of the car.
Unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show, the new all-wheel-drive variant of the hybrid hatchback features an additional high-torque electric motor that sends power to the rear axle. Toyota says it is engineered to engage for extra traction when pulling away at speeds of up to 7mph, and will also be used at speeds between 7mph and 44mph when sensors detect low-grip conditions.
Toyota has not given exact specifications for the unit, which works alongside the current 1.8-litre hybrid system, but said it is "compact and lightweight". The firm added that, because the unit does not use a centre differential or front-to-rear driveshaft, it will have a minimal impact on the both Prius’s boot capacity and its fuel economy and emissions.
The Hybrid AWD-i Prius draws power from a nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery, which Toyota said has been optimised for cold weather performance, while the front-wheel-drive Prius has been equipped with a new lithium ion hybrid battery.
Toyota has also made a range of minor updates to the whole Prius range for 2019, including revamped exterior styling including new-look front and rear lights, a reworked bumper and a new trapezoid shape design in the car’s rear.
Inside, Toyota has reworked the dashboard of the car, and reworked some of the controls on the instrument panel. It will now be offered with a larger wireless charging tray, due to the growth in size of smartphones, and the latest version of Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system.
The new-look Prius, along with the Hybrid AWD-i version, is due to go on sale in Britain and Europe next year, with a planned European debut at the Brussels motor show in January next year. No pricing details for the new model have yet been released.
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