New version of firm's popular hybrid features twin electric motors to offer all-wheel drive in low-grip conditions
James Attwood, digital editor
28 November 2018

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.

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 6mph, and will also be used at speeds between 6mph and 44mph when sensors detect low-grip conditions.

The "compact and lightweight" 7bhp secondary motor works alongside the current 1.8-litre hybrid system, producing a relatively high torque output of 420lb ft to aid with low traction acceleration. 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 emissions ratings. Fuel efficiency is also relatively unchanged, with a WLTP-certified rating of 58.6-64.7mpg on the combined cycle. 

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 reconfigured 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 which responds to pinch, swipe and flick gestures in the same manner as a modern smartphone. The new model follows the fifth-generation RAV4 in receiving Toyota's Safety Sense driver assist system, featuring road sign recognition, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. 

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The new-look Prius, along with the Hybrid AWD-i version, will initially launch in Britain and western Europe in Spring, with a central and eastern European launch to follow. Official pricing and range details for the new model will be announced nearer the time.

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Comments
10

28 November 2018

Adding some 4WD capability means that the Prius will appeal to a bigger market. Yet the additional cost of another electric motor and drive arrangement should be quite small, both in money and weight. 

It's not clear whether this is based on the normal Prius or plug-in model, or both.  

28 November 2018
LP in Brighton wrote:

It's not clear whether this is based on the normal Prius or plug-in model, or both.  

the one in the photo is a "regular" Prius. Whether there is an AWD plug-in ...?

28 November 2018

... a 1980's vision of a car of the future.

Also looks like its from the movies Cars and about to start talking using that slightly smiley front grille.

Weird and not in a good way IMHO

 

 

You're not stuck in traffic - you are traffic!!

18 January 2019

I was not aware that these had better cold weather performance than the newer lithium ion type, as implied by the article. It would be interesting to know at what temperature the nickel metal hydride type is better.

18 January 2019

They've already had these on test in the states and there are a few videos around. Interestingly the car always pulls away in 4WD - there are no options to change which wheels are driven depending on condition.

18 January 2019

I can never understand why there aren't more 4WD/AWD hybrids. Basically, they are incredibly easy to engineer, as you don't have to have a heavy propshaft down the length of the car. The weight distribution is good as you can have some of the extra weight at the back of the car. You get all the benefits of 4wd like traction and lack of torque steer with very few of the weight and complexity drawbacks. Mini/BMW just have an electric axle so effectively the front axle is petrol and the rear one is electric...sounds very sensible to me...

18 January 2019

Maybe a case of just because you can doesn't mean you should.

99% of hatchbacks on the road make do with one driven axle and although adding an another electric motor, plus control mechanics and software wouldn't cost a huge amount it still adds to price, weight and complexity of an already heavy'ish, expensive'ish and complex car. 

Although as an option it may be useful to a few 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

18 January 2019

lets throw 420 ft/lb of torque at low traction conditions !

19 January 2019

The best proponent of this has been for years the i8 which has been a miserable sales failure.Perhaps the new 992 with a hybrid motor will do better.Priuses are useless in severe cold,like Arctic Canada,they just freeze up completely,at least the old ones did.Taxis work because they are running all the time,but the fuel consumption is terrible as there are no hills to recharge the batteries.

Madmac

19 January 2019

I've been driving my 04 Prius through 15 Canadian winters with no problems and it is not a taxi. A Prius is like a regular car except that it has a large battery, large starter and large alternator. It always starts. The battery is charged by the engine and by braking -- no need for hills. Like all cars, fuel consumption increases in the winter due to the energy needed to warm the engine, cabin and catalytic converter, but, even then, efficiency is excellent. 

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