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by Tim Beissmann

The next addition to the Toyota Prius family – the Toyota Prius v – has made its local debut at the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne.

The Prius v will go in sale in the US before the end of this year and will join Toyota Australia’s Prius line-up sometime in 2012.

The Prius v (for ‘versatility’) shares its platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive system with the current third-generation Prius hatch, meaning it will be powered by the familiar combination of a 73kW/142Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine, 60kW/207Nm electric motor and nickel-metal-hydride battery.

Toyota says it is targeting combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.0 litres/100km, putting it about 1.1 litres/100km off the pace of the Prius hatch.

Although the Prius v has people mover looks, it is only a five-seater, making it a spiritual Prius wagon.

At 4615mm long, 1775mm wide and 1575mm tall, the Prius v is 155mm longer, 30mm wider and 85mm taller than the standard Prius hatch. It has a much larger boot, with 971 litres of cargo space behind the rear seats. All passenger seats (front and rear) fold completely flat, adding to the interior versatility.

Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner, the Prius family tree would branch out in Australia next year with the introduction of the Prius v.

“Prius v is designed for young families and fleet customers looking for a car with added space and flexibility, as well as exceptional fuel economy,” Mr Buttner said.

“It offers seating for five with a low, wide-opening hatch that gives access to more cargo space than many small SUVs.”

The timing of the 2012 Toyota Prius v launch is still up in the air, as is the pricing. We will bring you more information as soon as we can. Stay tuned.