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Toyota has revealed the new-generation Aqua hatch in Japan, which was once known as the Prius C in Australia.
While the Prius C hatchback was pulled from sale in 2020 due to slow sales, the new-generation car merges onto Toyota’s latest TNGA-B platform and debuts many world-firsts for the brand.
The biggest news is the Aqua debuts an all-new battery type which could well be the future of Toyota batteries in its hybrid and perhaps even electric car range.
Toyota calls the new type bipolar nickel-hydrogen batteries, and they differ from its current, outdated nickel-metal hydride batteries used in some models by allowing the batteries to be stacked more closely together, with a larger surface area, whilst also allowing the current to pass completely through individual cells.
This allows Toyota to build the batteries more compact, with less complexity, and results in a a higher voltage output. Toyota says the new system has a power output two times higher than the one it replaces.
This means that the speed range at which the new Aqua can operate under electric power alone has been expanded, allowing it to make better utilisation of its electric motor, which now produces 59kW/141Nm.
The new Aqua pairs this new hybrid system to the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine as also seen in the new-generation Toyota Yaris Hybrid, in this case producing 67kW/120Nm.
As a result of this upgraded hybrid system, the new Aqua is the first Toyota to be fitted with a single-pedal driving mode which it dubs the “comfort pedal”, using a new Power + driving mode to bring the vehicle closer to a full halt without needing to use the brake pedal, more like an all-electric vehicle.
Toyota claims the new Aqua will consume just 2.8L/100km of petrol on the combined cycle. It has a 37-litre fuel tank.
The Aqua also debuts a new 10.5-inch multimedia touchscreen, the first of its kind in a Toyota based on a platform smaller than TNGA-C, as well as a new digital dash cluster, self-parking mode, and a residential power outlet. Like its predecessor, it is larger than the Yaris but smaller than the Corolla, while reviving many of its previous styling points which made it stand out.
While the Aqua (as the Prius C) is unlikely for an Australian launch, this model is interesting because it could allude to the future of its larger Prius sibling, which Toyota Australia promises will remain in Australia in some form. Until now, it has been suggested that Toyota will move the Prius to plug-in hybrid technology, although if a future update to the Prius range includes this new hybrid system it could be used to introduce these new technologies, which could be the next step for the brand’s renowned ‘hybrid synergy drive’ instead.
Stay tuned as we learn more about the future of the Prius nameplate in Australia.