By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[Hands-On] Prius+ (Plus) or Prius V, Toyota’s first Hybrid MPV.
Unveiled to the public for the first time in January during the Detroit 2011 Motor Show under the Prius V Name and just recently in Europe during the 2011 Geneva Motor Show under the Prius+, Toyota deviced today to unveil its modified Japanese version of its new upcoming Hybrid MPV to a limited lucky few during a behind closed door event in Tokyo, and of course we were among them!
To be perfectly fair, the car we had the chance to discover was still under development and officially introduced by Toyota a Prototype, also and despite all our effort to get into the bottom of this, Toyota underline that the vehicle we had the chance to test today was somehow different from the Prius+ Introduced at Geneva and that its name for the Japanese version may be totally different.
Anyway whatever will be its name in the future let’s called it the Japanese Prius+ for the moment!
So what really new here?
Unlike the actual Prius and many other Hybrid Vehicle available on the Market, the Prius+ is Toyota real first 7-seater hybrid MPV offering up to 60% more cargo space than the actual Prius! Despite its name, the Prius+ is a completely new vehicle “designed from the ground up” offering a 5-door hatch MPV configuration available in Japan at least with or without a third row of 2 seats at the rear in a 50:50 split configuration.
One of the many technical differences between the actual Prius and today’s Prius+ is the adoption on this model of lithium-ion batteries that are usually only available in on Plug-in Hybrid Only and that, depending of your Car configuration will be located underneath the center console between the driver and the front passenger when used on the 7-seater version or behind the passenger seats and underneath the trunk on the 5-seater only version.
Another noteworthy change compared to the regular hatchback Prius, is the adoption on the Prius+ of a new lightweight roof that comes with a pair of glass sunroof announced to be 40% lighter than the actual Prius roof.
The last but not the least is the Prius+ adoption of a new chassis design suppressing up to 10dB the engine noise at over 3000rpm compared to the actual Prius, making the Prius+ among the most quiets hybrid car built by Toyota so far.
Perofrmance wise, the Prius+ comes with Toyota’s 2ZR-FXE engine (four-cylinder petrol engine) offering 1,797cc with a 99 PS (73 kW / 98 bhp) output connected to an electric motor that develops 82 PS (60 kW / 80 bhp). Like most Toyota Hybrids, the Prius plus comes with three drive modes including the ECO mode maximizing fuel-efficiency, EV which drives solely on electric power for zero emissions and POWER for performance.
While we did not had much time or much place to enjoy and drive the Prius+, several laps gave us a first clue on how the car feels like. First of all, the driving position of this Prius+ and the actual Prius is rather different, with both the driver’s seat and front passenger’s seat adjusted slightly higher than its predecessor. Closed to most MPV’s driving Style the Prius+ seems light but not really responsive despite made several test runs with the POWER mode turned on.
With a few laps available for us, we could not really test the car’s range on EV only mode or even if its slightly increase drag coefficient of 0.29 compared of the 0.26 Prius and additional seat and space will have any effect on the car mileage, but until a proper test we will have to guess that this Prius+ may not match the actual Prius.
Bottom line, I personally believe that this new Prius+, Prius V or whatever its name will be in Japan, will be a huge success across the globe as being the first cheap Hybrid MPV to be available!