2012 TOYOTA PRIUS: NEW STYLE, NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR THE WORLD’S BEST-SELLING HYBRID
- New-look front end and higher quality interior
- Higher equipment specifications, including Toyota Touch interface and Touch & Go Plus multimedia and navigation system
- Full hybrid powertrain continues to deliver the lowest CO2 emissions in its class (89g/km)
- Improved ride quality, steering feel and vehicle dynamics
- On sale in March, prices from £21,560
As Toyota plans to introduce full hybrid technology across its core model range, it continues to refine the quality, performance and owner-appeal of Prius, still the world’s best-known and best-selling hybrid vehicle.
With over 20,000 sales in the UK to its credit since its launch in 2009, the third-generation Prius has been made an even stronger proposition. As ever, the appeal of Prius is underpinned by its outstanding efficiency: in its latest guise it continues to deliver 89g/km CO2 emissions – the lowest level in its class – and combined cycle fuel economy of 72.4mpg (the figures for models running on 17-inch wheels remain 92g/km and 70.6mpg).
The new year brings improvements inside and out. The front of the car has been given a new look, in line with Toyota’s new design approach, while in the cabin there are new front seats, new upholstery and new soft-touch surfaces that combine to give a higher quality feel.
Equipment levels have been raised, notably with the introduction as standard on all grades of the Toyota Touch touchscreen control system. The advanced Toyota Touch & Go Plus multimedia and navigation system is a standard feature on Prius T Spirit and an option on T3 & T4. This brings with it Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, USB port and an on-board connectivity feature that allows access to a raft of on-line information services sourced through Google Local Search using a compatible mobile phone.
Extra stiffness in the bodyshell and changes to the suspension and steering column have increased comfort and steering feel.
UK sales of the revised model range will begin in March, with on-the-road prices from £21,560. Later in the year Prius will grow, with the introduction of the ultra-efficient Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Prius+, the world’s first seven-seat full hybrid MPV.
The 2012 Prius is right on-trend in terms of Toyota’s new design approach, which introduces a stronger focus on the lower part of the car’s front end. The new styling brings a new bumper and a larger lower grille that gives the vehicle a low and wide look. There are new clear-lens headlights, too, and the LED daytime running lights have been relocated in the bumper beneath the turn indicators, while the foglights move to within the lower grille.
T Spirit models now use LED headlamps, too, which come with a washer system, while all versions gain new power-folding heated door mirrors. At the rear the combination lamps have a new look, and there are new-design wheelcaps for the 15-inch wheels on the T3 model.
The styling changes add an extra 20mm to the car’s length, but Prius’s wheelbase and its highly efficient aerodynamic performance (Cd 0.25) are unchanged.
The 2012 Prius is available in eight exterior colours, including new Dark Blue and Cabernet Red metallic.
Detail touches in the 2012 Prius combine to raise the perception of quality in the look and feel of the trim, surfaces and upholstery. New, darker materials are used for the dashboard and T4 and T Spirit models gains a new black seat trim. Silver inserts have been added to the centre console and air vents and the hybrid system start button gains blue illumination.
The front seats are new and offer wider adjustment, both fore and aft and in height range, making it easier for the most comfortable driving position to be achieved.
Toyota’s attention to detail can be seen in the redesign of the centre console box, which now has a built in cupholder that can be used without having to open the box lid. The 12V power socket, USB port and AUX audio input terminal have been moved to the front of the box for easier use.
Model grades and equipment
The 2012 Toyota Prius retains its three-grade line-up of T3, T4 and T Spirit. All models adopt the innovative Toyota Touch touchscreen system for audio, multimedia connectivity and Bluetooth, plus a rear-view camera.
Toyota Touch & Go Plus and Toyota Touch Pro
T Spirit versions are fitted with the Touch & Go Plus premium package with satellite navigation, advanced traffic pattern intelligence on programmed routes, voice recognition for calls, music search and play, and phone contacts search and call functions. The system’s connectivity allows access to Google Local Search (using a compatible mobile phone, and pre-registration via a Toyota customer portal) to obtain useful information on navigation locations and services such as live parking and fuel prices.
Touch & Go Plus also provides a text-to-speak function and, using Gracenote, “play more like this” audio selection. The satellite navigation is supported by three years’ free map updates, with two updates a year.
The system can be specified as an option on T3 and T4 models.
Toyota Touch Pro is available as part of the optional Technology Pack for T Spirit. This provides increased functionality and more advanced features, including 3D representations of landmarks; lane guidance and an automatic zoom at intersections; speed limit and TPEG traffic flow data, and parking, weather and fuel price information. It also provides a better interface and functionality for connection and playback from iPods and other digital music players, and allows route points-of-interest (POI) to be searched and uploaded from the Google Local Search database.
New equipment features
As well as Toyota Touch, the T3 Prius gains LED daytime running lights and a folding function on the electric heated door mirrors. T4 models are newly fitted with an eight-speaker JBL audio system, with power-saving GreenEdge speaker technology.
For 2012, T Spirit grade includes water-repellent glass, dusk-sensing LED headlamps with washers, and an auto-dimming electrochromatic rear-view mirror.
Changes have also been made to the multi-information display (on all models) to make images clearer and simpler to understand. New functions have been added including a monthly fuel consumption record, with a rolling archive of five months’ data, and an ECO savings calculator. The calculator works by the driver inputting a target consumption figure and fuel price; the system records the driving time during which consumption is lower than the target and calculates a monthly saving compared to the expected fuel cost.
All versions of Prius can be specified with black leather upholstery. Likewise a Protection Pack, with rear parking sensors and a boot liner, is available across all grades.
A Style Pack is offered for T4 and T Spirit versions, which adds extra chrome trim to the sides and rear of the car and chrome foglamp surrounds.
In addition to Touch Pro, the Technology Pack for T Spirit also includes Toyota’s Pre-Crash Safety and Adaptive Cruise Control systems and a revised version of Intelligent Park Assist, adapted to recognise viable parking spaces that have no markings and to give voice and monitor guidance to the correct spot from which the parking manoeuvre needs to start.
Body and suspension
Prius’s body has been made stiffer by increasing the number of welding spots and reinforcements. This increased rigidity allows for softer suspension tuning, which improves ride comfort without diminishing the car’s dynamic abilities.
Redesign of the bracing has also made the steering column more rigid, which has the effect of giving the driver better steering feel. Additional soundproofing materials have improved noise and vibration levels in the cabin even further.
Prices, VED and insurance