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by Tim Beissmann

The Toyota Prius C Concept has broken cover at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit overnight, sending out a warning to the Honda Insight at the same time.

According to Toyota, the C Concept – for ‘city’-centric hybrid vehicle – is designed for “compact shoppers… interested in a smaller hybrid at an entry price point and with superior fuel economy”.

Toyota says it will be “the most value-oriented hybrid in the US market” and also return the best fuel economy of any ‘cordless’ (non-plug-in/electric) Toyota model.

A production version of the C Concept will become the fourth member of the Prius family in the US when it enters the market in the first half of 2012 – following the standard Prius hatch, the Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V people mover.

The C Concept is an evolution of the Toyota FT-CH concept unveiled at Detroit exactly one year ago. That vehicle was 56cm shorter than the third-generation Prius but almost the same width.

The interior is largely unchanged from the FT-CH concept, but will undergo significant reworking before it reaches production.

The exterior design builds on the green machine from 2010, but trades many of the curves for stronger, harder lines seemingly inspired by the FT-86 coupe concept.

The bold, squared-off rear wheel arches, flat rear windscreen and pillar-mounted taillights are also reminiscent of the Nissan Leaf EV.

Regardless of its influence, based on its stylish design, the Prius C Concept promises to be one of the most sought-after hybrids on the market when it launches within 18 months.




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