Now, you would think that the baby version of the Toyota Prius which is set to slot in price below the all-new 2012 Prius V and “regular” Prius hatch that we all know and some of us love, would naturally be a futuristic yet cute little automotive infant. Some of us loathe all Prius models but that’s a whole other story unrelated to how these very fuel efficient, technologically advanced, roomy and affordable hybrids changed the new car marketplace.
After walking by this new “Prius C” at least 7 times at the Tokyo Auto Show (in Japan it is known as the Aqua), most still hadn’t figured out that this was the new Prius. It looked just like the new Yaris which, in our minds, is not complementary. We expected something a little more daring from the styling department and perhaps were even holding out hope for a “cute” baby Prius. Now, if the Toyota Aqua/nee Prius C were an actual person, we would say that based on style alone fate would guarantee a life spent selling real estate and wearing a beige outfit to work every day.
At least the 2012 Prius V looks like a utility van and the original has a shape as recognizable as that of the original VW Beetle. The Prius C? No one will know if you are driving a Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris or even some odd Chinese export that hasn’t been legally imported or safely crash-tested yet. It just doesn’t look like a “real Prius” should and even though it promises to get fuel economy above 51 miles per gallon, with the yen exchange rate at its current levels Toyota will have a hard time making a buck selling it.
The Scion iQ may be much smaller than the Prius and may give you some claustrophobia but it at least has some flash and pizazz to its wheels at the corner “Hot Wheels” styling. Toyota also unveiled an electric “FT-EV” version of the iQ (Note: FYI—“FT” means “Future Toyota” and it disappears when the car reaches production so reports that the Toyota FT-86 sport coupe will bear that name are erroneous).
Perhaps what Toyota is trying to do with the Prius C is move away from the more “image conscious” urban early-adopter trendsetters and hone in on empty-nester couples who just want something no one will notice when they pull into the Hometown Buffet parking lot. If that’s the case, mission accomplished.