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New Toyota Prius coming in Q3 2009

A day after its cousin, the Lexus HS250h, debuted Toyota has taken the wraps off its third-gen Prius, which will be coming here in the third quarter of this year.

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Derek Fung
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Detroit Auto Show 2009 A day after its cousin, the Lexus HS250h, debuted Toyota has taken the wraps off its third-gen Prius, which will be coming here in the third quarter of this year.

Evolution
The new Prius looks, well, a lot like the current Prius. A lot of the details, such as the headlamps, have changed but the overall shape remains. Toyota claims that the new Prius is the most aerodynamic mass-produced car in the world, with a co-efficient drag (Cd) of 0.25 — the current model has a Cd of 0.26.

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Bigger engine
The new model has a larger 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, in place of the current model's 1.5-litre unit. According to Toyota, the new engine's larger torque output helps reduce overall fuel consumption to around 4L/100km in US testing.

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When I think about you...
The steering wheel features touch sensors, for items like the audio system, which allow you to control the car's settings via the instrument panel located in an LCD strip along the top of the dashboard.

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Power, where does it come from?
Like before, the Prius' instrument pack (speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and so forth) reside in an LCD strip along the top of the dashboard. Also living in this strip is an updated energy monitor where the driver and passengers alike can have a sticky beak at where the car's power is currently coming from and going to.

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Plug-in ready
In a nod to the fact that the company is readying a plug-in version of the Prius, the car can be driven in EV Mode on solely battery power for up to about two kilometres. There's also a Power Mode for more, uhhh, power and an Eco Mode for, presumably, less.

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Batteries ahoy!
Every car maker and its dog is working on Lithium-ion battery technology, but Toyota doesn't quite believe that it's ready for the big time in cars. So, the new Prius will begin life with a standard nickel-metal hydride battery pack residing in the boot wheel.

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Stay cool
Order the moonroof and you'll get an array of roof-mounted solar panels that power a fan to extract hot air from the car when it's parked. This should not only reduce the number of bullets you sweat when re-entering the car, but also reduce air-conditioning usage. Much as this sounds like it's tech from

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POWER!
The Prius' new hybrid system delivers a total of 100kW when both the petrol engine and electric motor are working in tandem, up from 82kW on the current model.

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If I could turn back time (part I)
The current, second-generation Prius was the first to sport an aerodynamic, and very distinctive, hatchback shape.

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If I could turn back time (part II)
The first-generation Prius was a (slightly) futuristic and (very) awkward-looking sedan.

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