Toyota unveils Prius+ in Geneva

THE new Prius+ makes its debut at the 2011 Geneva motor show, representing further expansion of Toyota’s Prius family. It is the first full hybrid model in Europe to offer seven seats, combining family friendly versatility with strong environmental performance and advanced technology.

As its name suggests, Prius+ provides a significant increase in space and passenger accommodation compared to its sister hatchback model. There are three independent, split-folding second row seats and a 50:50 split-folding third row. In spite of the increase in size, it retains the fundamental performance benefits associated with Prius, including the lowest fuel consumption of any seven-seater on the market.

Set to go on sale during the first half of 2012, Prius+ is a new vehicle, designed from the ground up. Its exterior represents an evolution of the established Prius design, rather than simply being an elongated version of the standard model.

Prius+ is equipped with the latest generation of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive and is the first Toyota non-plug-in hybrid to use a lithium-ion battery pack.

The compact dimensions of this battery - first introduced in Prius Plug-in - allow it to be contained entirely beneath the second row seats, which means passenger and loadspace and the vehicle’s interior flexibility are unaffected.

As in the standard Prius, Prius+ features three ‘on-demand’ drive modes so that capabilities of the hybrid powertrain can be fully exploited. EV mode allows the car to be driven on electric motor power alone, resulting in zero fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions; ECO mode maximises hybrid system efficiency and fuel economy, while POWER mode sharpens response and boosts performance.

Toyota also aims to bring Prius Plug-in to the global market in the second half of 2012 and in preparation for this around 600 vehicles are currently taking part in demonstration lease programmes worldwide, including 20 in London. These projects are designed to assess every aspect of real-world use and verify the car’s overall environmental and technological performance before going on sales

Initial feedback from European lease project customers is very encouraging. Most of those surveyed have reported that the car exceeds their expectations, in many cases by a significant degree. Two thirds have expressed themselves fully satisfied with the car’s EV driving range, which in real-world testing has exceeded nine miles.

Ford’s new Metal Ka brings style both inside and out

Ford’s new Metal Ka will bring style inside and out to Britain’s roads when it goes on sale in March. T

he Metal Ka replaces the Tattoo version and sits alongside the Grand Prix and Digital models which add an extra layer of style and fun to Ka for customers who want to make a bolder statement. With its dark styling the new Metal Ka is a stark contrast to the highly colourful Ka Grand Prix and Digital models. Using the Zetec model as a base, Metal Ka combines dark, glossy and metallic elements to give customers an expressive and contemporary package that includes exterior and interior treatments.

Land Rover to reveal Range e in Geneva

Land Rover’s on-going commitment to building vehicles that are more fuel and emissions-efficient reaches another milestone at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show with the first presentation of the Range_e. This development model is equipped with an advanced plug-in hybrid diesel-electric powertrain that Land Rover expects to make available in future production models, following the scheduled launch of its diesel-electric hybrid in 2013.

Renault Floride returns as Coupe Cabriolet

Renault has produced a limited-edition model of the Coupe Cabriolet with a number of specific design elements featuring both inside and out. It carries the Floride name with pride. The front wings feature a retro-styled Floride badge and you’ll also find the name on the lower bodywork, just in front of the rear wheel arches, in chromed, 3D typography that reflects the style of a previous age. This exclusive limited edition will be restricted to just 1,200 cars, 450 of which are destined for the French market.

Audi A3 notches new power record

A new take on the Audi A3 will be hatched at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, where for the first time in its history the ultra-successful premium compact car not only adopts a striking ‘notchback’ saloon body shell, but also uniquely combines it with a power output of over 400PS for epic performance. Known simply as the A3 concept, the fastest ever factory-produced A3 is the latest in a long line of one-off Audi design studies, and is characteristically laden with technological advances in everything from construction to infotainment.

Volkswagen ‘Bulli’ signals the return of the camper van

Volkswagen has unveiled an all-new concept, the ‘Bulli’. It is a development of the Microbus concept which made its debut ten years ago in 2001 and a new generation of Volkswagen people carrier - the first of which broke cover back in 1950 with the production of the first Transporter. More compact than the 2001 concept vehicle, the new Bulli is powered by an electric motor and fitted with six seats and infotainment control via iPad. It is front-engined and front-wheel drive.