Toyota Prius Prototype

New Toyota Prius: The evolution of a new model which brings about a thoroughly low center of gravity… A comparison of the new and the old packaging, cabin edition

The new Prius, which is the fourth-generation edition, is gaining a lot of attention with an astounding gas mileage efficiency of 40km/liter, which is top-class.

However, a point that cannot be overlooked is the fact that it adopts a technique that has not existed before, even in the packaging that became the basis of this car, which ultimately brought about a positive impact on its driving quality (ride, handling, and stability).

The new Prius adopts the new platform by TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture).
Its dimensions appear as follows: 4540mm overall length×1760mm overall width×1470mm height. Its wheelbase is 2700mm. In other words, its overall length was expanded by 40mm compared to its predecessor, the overall width was expanded slightly, and the wheelbase remained as it is, thereby maintaining a size that is easy to handle even on Japanese roads. The total height is the point of interest here. It is lower by 20mm than its predecessor (equal to the height of the center of gravity also).

This is heavily connected to the lowering of the center of gravity which can be considered as one of the highlights of the new mode; naturally, the floor, the seating position of the occupant of the front and rear seats, the height of the nose (-70mm!), and even until the position of the rear spoilers have been lowered. The minimum ground clearance is also 10mm lower than its predecessor.

The suspension setting’s degree of freedom rises if the height of the center of gravity is lowered; it also signifies huge advantages in its handling and stability as well as its ride comfort; these are considered as the vital points of improvement from its predecessor.

Specifically, the height of the seating of the front seat is also lowered by about 60mm compared to its predecessor; it is lower by 29mm compared even to the floor (the rear seat is also 30mm lower). However, it does not have an adverse effect on the visibility and sense of freedom since the front cowl and the shoulder lines are also both lowered by 60mm. The wipers are also installed in such a manner which makes them invisible from the front seats. Despite the lowering of the overall height of the front seat’s overhead space by 20mm, it is 21mm bigger (interior height is -30mm) compared to its predecessor based on the manufacturer’s data since the seating position has been lowered.

In the actual measurements, the difference level of the heel (the height from the floor to the tip of the seat surface) of the front seat of the predecessor is about 300mm, while it is about 270mm in the new model; the rear seat of the predecessor is about 360mm, while it is about 340mm in the new model. It has a lowered and more natural driving position than the upright sensation of the predecessor, and highlights the seating posture that it has been able to attain. As a result, it has acquired a sedan-like calmness in its seating sensation, and it ought to bring about a positive impact even in the awful effect of shoulder and neck fatigue since the unnecessary movement of the occupant’s upper body is being suppressed at the same time.

The biggest difference that it has with its predecessor is the manner in which people sit down on the front and rear seats. The rear seat of the predecessor only has an additional of 2mm to its height in contrast with the front seats, which gives it a sunken seating sensation. However, the rear seat of the new model has been set 35mm higher than the front seat. Its layout becomes theater-like so to speak, which dramatically improves the forward view of the rear seat. Nevertheless, the headrest portion might feel like a wall if you sit right behind the front seat since its seat back has become 20mm higher compared to its predecessor.

The indoor height has been expanded by 205mm on the specs; however, it cannot be relied upon that much because that is affected by the design of the instrument panel and the like. In fact, the dimension of the overhead space of the rear seat and the area around the knees are completely the same as that of its predecessor. If someone will sit in the rear seat with my 172cm height as the standard for the driving position, then the allowance of 110mm overhead space and the 230mm area around the knees are maintained as it is.

Perhaps the question about why the overall length was expanded by 60mm has come up; however, the truth is that the extended portion has been distributed respectively to the front and rear overhangs by 25/35mm; the expanded part is not included in the length of the cabin.

The slightly regrettable aspect in the rear seat is that it no longer has a flat floor like its predecessor. The lowering of the floor resulted in the appearance of a protrusion, which makes it feel like the spaciousness underfoot has slightly retracted.

Neverthelesss, the low center of gravity package of the new Prius has greatly contributed in the improvement of its predecessor’s unsatisfactory points, namely its riding comfort and handling stability; these are aspects that you can actually feel strongly when you are driving it.

(Translated by: Michael Sabaldan)