Toyota NS4 concept unveiled

The Toyota NS4 concept has been unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. It features styling that will shape future Toyota and Lexus models, as well as a new plug-in hybrid powertrain.
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Sharing similar dimensions to the Toyota Prius, the NS4 concept takes on an all-new styling approach. Cleans lines and a high waistline give it a solid stance, while a distinctive ‘arrow’ nose gives it a sporty and futuristic theme.

Although it is just a concept, Toyota says certain elements will inspire future production vehicles, including the next-generation Prius. NS4 project manager Tomohiko Shishido says it was developed as a Toyota Motor Co. concept though, and not a Toyota brand vehicle. This could also mean design cues will be seen on upcoming Lexus models.

Toyota says the NS4 uses a next-generation plug-in hybrid system, one that is made of lighter-weight, smaller components compared with today’s conventional hybrids. This will allow for improved economy and performance.

Inside, the NS4 showcases an innovative multi-touch interface which is capable of learning driver habits and preferences, and anticipate selections. The unit, Toyota calls it human-machine interface, has been designed to reduce driver distraction.

Other unique features include a low centre of gravity which has been made possible thanks to a low-mounted engine. Toyota Motor head of design Tokuo Fukuichi says the current Prius's centre of gravity is relatively high, and that the architecture behind the NS4 previews a first attempt to reduce it.

The Toyota NS4 also previews technologies such as anti-solar, anti-fog, anti-ultraviolet and raindrop-elimination thanks to partner supplier Asahi Glass Co.