Advertisement2012 Toyota Prius C Spy Photos - Future CarsNifty-looking concept gives way to drab-looking price-buster. BY STEVE SILER, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENDA PRIDDY & CO. AND THE MANUFACTURER
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We’ve known for some time that Toyota’s Prius family would expand to include a smaller, lower-priced model, and this year’s Detroit auto show provided a vague idea of what it might look like in the form of the cool Prius C concept.
Based on these spy photos, it seems that the budget Prius is going to look less like the low-slung concept hatch and more like, well, a budget Prius. Gone are the high-set headlamps and razor-sharp front-end sculpting, replaced by conventional polygonal headlamps, a bland trapezoidal scheme for the air intakes, and the Prius’s trademark hood lump. The rear end is somewhat more interesting, chopping the Prius shape off behind the C-pillar to allow an overall length some 18 inches shorter than the standard model’s. Like the Prius C concept, the car sits rather squat between the flared rear fenders, although it is hard to tell if the rear window dips below the wiper and down toward the license plate, which would mimic the concept. In any case, most of the zest of the show car appears to be gone.
We expect that the Prius C will share at least a few—if not most—of its chassis components with the next-generation Yaris. That car’s 1.5-liter four could take over the internal-combustion role in its hybrid powertrain in place of the 1.8-liter currently installed in the Prius. As the price leader (and based on this prototype’s stark interior), we don’t expect many frills to accompany this fuel miser. We also don’t expect much in the way of fun behind the wheel, but we’d love to be proven wrong. Watch for the production Prius C to appear in showrooms within a year, likely priced about $5000 less than the Prius’s $24,280 base sticker. Such pricing would line it directly up with Honda’s equally boring Insight, which starts at $18,950.
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