2012 Detroit Auto Show

Toyota Officially Introduces the Prius C Hatchback as the New Base Model

The Prius C aka Aqua will become the entry-level model of the Prius range.

Set to be sold as the Aqua in Japan, Toyota's new standalone hybrid hatch has been officially unveiled and will sit at the base of the Prius family. Toyota has expanded its lineup of Prius-badged hybrids with the Prius C, which includes the regular Prius, Prius V minivan, and plug-in Prius PHEV. Marginally bigger than the latest Yaris, it features a compact, lightweight hybrid system combining a 1.5-liter gas engine with a high-output electric motor.

No official details as to the exact specs has been released but a leaked Japanese brochure for the Japanese model reveals the gas engine produces 74hp and 82lb-ft of torque and the electric motor supplies up to 61hp and 125lb-ft; when in tune a combined effort supposedly produces 100hp.

A fuel economy of over 50mpg is expected of the US-market Prius C and Toyota claim it will have "the highest city mpg of any non-plug-in vehicle." Standard features will include Bluetooth phone connectivity, nine airbags, and the new Entune multimedia system. The Aqua will debut at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show at the end of the month and go on sale in Japan in December, while the Prius C will premiere at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show and hit US showrooms in the spring.

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