The fourth-generation Toyota Prius has been photographed completely undisguised prior to its debut next week.
These photos, which seem to have been taken while the next-generation hybrid hatch was strapped in for a trans-oceanic flight, were first published by the Toyota Prius Club of Malaysia. They show an all-new car that, stylistically at least, is a radical departure from the second- and third-generation hatchbacks.
While the basics of the aerodynamically efficient "Kammback" body style remain, the new Prius' design is heavily influenced by the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and largely correlates with the design sketches drawn up by a Japanese magazine in early July.
The new car's radically styled headlights, beak-like nose, Dali-esque tail-lights, false window panel in the C-pillar, and disappearing character wedge along the rear flanks are all new to the Prius range.
Under the skin, the Prius will be one of the first production vehicles to use the Toyota New Global Architecture. Like flexible component sets from other companies, it will help Toyota reduce development and manufacturing costs, as well as reduce weight in future vehicles.
It's said that the new Prius will tip the scales at around 100 kilograms less than the current car. It will also have a lower centre of gravity, which should help its handling and driving feel.
As far as drivetrains go, rumour has it that the new car will again feature an Atkinson-cycle 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a series of electric motors. Base models will continue to use cheaper, but less energy dense, nickel-metal hydride batteries, while upscale variants will employ lithium-ion battery packs.
Fuel efficiency is said to be improved by at least 10 percent.
According to a Toyota official, the new Prius set to have its official unveiling to the media and guests at an event on September 8 in Las Vegas. It will then, supposedly, step out in public for the first time at the Frankfurt motor show.