EXCLUSIVE – The first UK look at the next Prius

We’re a few days in to our time with the smart blue Prius that we’re test driving, and we’ve already put a variety of drivers behind the wheel and passengers in the seats surrounding them. I’m yet to get hold of the keys, but while I’m looking forward to my turn I’m not too jealous – I recently had my chance to drive the car, and something even more special.

Last Tuesday, in what was without doubt the highlight of last week’s rush of activity, me and film-maker Jo made a 400-mile round trip to the East Midlands. The trip itself – coming a couple of days before our Prius arrived – was unremarkable, but as our hire car rocked up at a private race track north of Loughborough it was clear our journey had been worthwhile: there, parked up and gleaming in the bright afternoon sun, was the first next-generation Prius in the country.

New Prius teaser

It was only a couple of days earlier that we’d first heard rumour we might get a chance to see the car at a private event. We weren’t sure if it would happen, and if it did we certainly weren’t sure we’d be invited, but as it turned out we got to see three strictly pre-production, left-hand drive cars, and even to take photos and video.

Seeing the new car parked up next to the current Prius gave us a great chance to see how Toyota’s designers have moved things on. In photos, the cars’ similar shape – designed to slip through the air as easily as possible – suggests that the styling has changed little, but in the flesh the differences are pronounced. The new car is sharper, more muscular, and it gains presence from styling details like the crease running along its flank and ‘aerocorners’ ahead of the front wheels, which help to push the airflow away from the wheel arch to reduce turbulence and drag.

Prius teaser

It’s clear, too, how the new shape starts to taper further back along the car’s length, giving rear seat passengers more headroom. Inside, it feels massive – with a surprising amount of legroom for passengers in the light and airy back. Despite some pre-production finish on the inside of the car we saw, the sweeping dual-zone interior surrounding the driver and front passenger feels like it would be a good place to spend some quality time.

And then, we got taken for a drive.

Much as I was hoping we’d get behind the wheel, our first experience of the new car on the move came as test driver Rob eased us onto the circuit under purely electric power – the Prius immediately proving even quieter than the current car. As we carried on round the circuit, we only realised the new car’s bigger engine had cut in when Rob powered through a bend with enough gusto to send poor Jo – trying to film from the back seat – flying.

As he built up speed, Rob talked us through the car’s controls and pointed out how, even on the racetrack, there were plenty of points where its Hybrid Synergy Drive was saving fuel by recovering energy as we braked or backed off the throttle. All very interesting, but, er, could we have a go?

Please?

Comments (12)

  1. So, did you hear anythingback on the towbar?

    I’ve already order the car, should be coming in the next 3-4 weeks (delayed due to the brake issue!!!).

    I want a towbar to enable me to have a bike rack behind, nothing major to tow.

    Has anyone hear anything as to why even this kind of towbar is not allowed. I have seen on websites in the US for the Prius MkII that you could be custom-made towbars, but obviously it invalidates the warranty, but why???

    1. Hi Andy

      Thanks for your question about towing with your Prius. For a full explanation as to why Toyota does not offer a towbar accessory for the Prius model, please click here.

      I hope this information will answer all your questions. If you have any other queries, don’t hesitate to ask.

  2. This towbar issue is a real disappointment. I was considering a Prius for our next family car to replace an old Golf but without a towbar it’s an absolute non-starter. The Golf can tow 1500kg why can’t the Priu, much the same weight, tow even a light trailer, in our case a bicycle carrier or a lightweight sailing dinghy?

  3. Again – our Prius is ace, but I’m having to swap it for something non-hybrid with a towbar… was REALLY hoping the new model would allow it, but alas!

  4. The towbar is an issue for us as well. We want to be able to attach a rear bike rack. We currently have the Toyota supplied roof rack which is fine for a regular bicycle but our electric bicycle is just too heavy to lift overhead. We were told by Toyota that fitting a towbar even for something as lightweight as an electric bicycle would invalidate our warranty! We guess that is because they don’t know that we wouldn’t try to tow something heavier. We’re on our 2nd Prius T-Spirit. We hoped the new model would resolve this issue in which case we would be shopping for our third. Very disappointing.

  5. Max, thanks for your patience. I’ve heard back from Toyota that the new Prius isn’t able to tow. We hope to be meeting some of the car’s designers and engineers soon, and will ask them what the barrier is to towing with a hybrid.

  6. Pete – delighted to say Toyota has just announced UK pricing.
    Max – I’m afraid I still can’t confirm about the car’s towing ability, but we are still trying to get an answer on this.
    J – Pleased to confirm all three grades of the new Prius will have heated, electrically adjustable door mirrors. We hope to have full details of the specification in a couple of weeks’ time.

  7. When will the price list for UK be available. Also, what will be the delivery lead time from date of order?.

  8. Thank you both for your comments.

    With the car still a way off we haven’t got the full details, but we are looking into both your questions and hope to have answers soon!

  9. Yes, but does the new Prius have heated door mirrors? – a lamentable omission on the previous UK models, even on my top of the range T Spirit.

  10. That’s all very well. I swapped my Espace for a Prius II last year. The only thing that is missing from the Prius, is the ability to have a tow bar fitted. We need our car to be flexible and without the tow bar the prospect of not being able to take the sailing dinghy, canoes, bikes etc means we have to resort to the RAV 4 for family holidays.

    With the Prius III and its bigger engine, will it be able to tow?

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