The upcoming year promises busy times for Toyota as it plans on launching 19 new or refreshed vehicles in the U.S. And while the Japanese automaker is garnering plenty of attention at this year’s North American International Auto Show for the introduction of the budget-priced Prius C, it’s also spotlighting a plug-in hybrid concept that steps outside the familiar bounds of the burgeoning Prius family.
To be sure, the new NS4 Plug-In Hybrid Concept looks nothing like the now-conventional looking Prius. Instead, Toyota says the hybrid concept signals a new design direction that abandons the rather boxy lines of the Prius for a shape defined by elegant, graceful curves and a simple, uncomplicated look. The NS4 projects a sleek, aerodynamic profile with a low height and cabin-forward tilt. Toyota says it hopes to “create and emotional connection with consumers” and while that may be typically overheated car show talk, there’s no denying that the NS4 is a much more handsome car than the Prius.
So if it’s not a Prius, what is it? Toyota is playing this one rather close to the vest. Other than saying the NS4 is a precursor of a future car Toyota may introduce worldwide by 2015, details about what’s under the hood have been tough to come by. We do know, however, that the NS4 is equipped with Toyota’s next-generation hybrid drive system, which the company claims will be lighter and more compact than the one used in the Prius.