Listen up, lentil eaters! Toyota's car boffins have just emerged from their underground lab, panting and sweating, with the Prius v -- a bigger version of the world's most iconic hybrid car.

It's also confirmed the release date for the plug-in version of its Prius hatchback and teased us with the Prius c -- a concept city car designed for people living in crowded cities.

The Prius v -- the v stands for versatile -- is a five-seater MPV that uses the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain as the existing car. It promises 50 per cent more interior space than the ordinary hatchback, along with a whopping 970 litres of load space behind the rear seats, so you can carry more super wholefoods home from the farmer's market.

The Prius v looks, at first glance, like a stretched Prius hatchback, but Toyota says the vehicle was developed new from the ground up. Its body shape is more subtle, particularly in profile, where it has less of a wedge shape and a slightly longer-looking bonnet. The company says the Prius v has a drag coefficient of 0.29 -- only slightly worse than the original car's figure of 0.25.

It's different on the inside, too. The Prius v's front passenger seat folds flat to allow the accomodation of long loads, while the second row of seats slide back and forth to make it easier to get in and out. They also recline 45 degrees, allowing those in the rear to get their lounge on.

The Prius v is set to have an airy, open feel thanks to a panoramic-view moonroof with a powered, retractable sunshade (moonshade?) available as an option.

The car will be powered by the same 1.8-litre engine as the third-generation Prius. This will give it a 0-60mph time of 11.5 seconds, which is just over a second slower than the standard hatchback. The Prius v also promises to deliver 40mpg combined fuel economy -- said to be the best in any vehicle of this class -- and will emit 66 per cent fewer emissions than comparable MPVs.

The Prius v will be one of the first vehicles on the road to use the new Entune multimedia entertainment and information system. Entune allows users to run car-related apps such as a mobile-optimised version of the Bing search engine, OpenTable and movietickets.com on the Prius v's multimedia display.

It'll also connect to the Internet via 3G to allow music streaming via iheartradio and Pandora. The Prius v will go on sale this summer. The plug-in version of the Prius hatchback, which offers 13 miles of electric-only driving, will go on sale in mid-2012, while the small, Prius c concept is currently still a work in progress.

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It may look like an ordinary Prius that's been stretched, but Toyota says the Prius v was built from the ground up.
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The Prius isn't quite as wedge-shaped as the Prius hatchback. Its drag coefficient, or the ease with which it cuts through the air, suffers slightly.
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It'll have a huge amount of cargo space behind the rear wheels, making it potentially the best choice for large, eco-friendly families.
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Inside, the Prius v will use the Entune entertainment system, which lets users run automotive apps and connect to the Internet.
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The Prius v will go on sale this summer.
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