With the influx of electric cars, the Toyota and Lexus environmentally-friendly image halo - built up thanks to its leadership in hybrid cars - is under threat. So it’s no surprise to see this "NS4" concept appear in Detroit, and be badged with some suspiciously Prius-like livery proclaiming "Plug-In hybrid". Is this a preview of the next generation Prius? Well it’s certainly not a bad place to start if you’re looking for clues.
The number four in the name refers to the fact that it has four doors, but our favourite fact was one discovered by a colleague, who was told by the car’s project leader that the "NS" in the name stands for "New Splendid" – making this the "New Splendid 4-door Toyota" (hat tip to Guy).
It’s much longer than the existing Prius, and obviously adopts a more conventional four-door saloon form compared to the past two generations, which employed what’s known as a "kamm-tail" hatchback, which helps it to be very aerodynamic. So it’s quite a departure from Toyota’s current hybrid.
Inside, there are some very contoured seats with an interesting gloss inner pattern cut out, and a very new dashboard, which employs a large, tablet-like touchscreen in the centre. There’s also a huge new full colour display at the base of the windscreen, which shows the hybrid drivetrain powerflow, just as in the current Prius, but also the images projected from the side cameras, which replace the mirrors for better aerodynamics.
Our favourite part of all of the interior tech is the small, conical display behind the wheel, which shows a speed-readout in hologram form, and then uses a T-OLED display overlay in front, to provide the driver with further information when needed.
We reckon this is the most "concept-y" of all the cars we’ve covered in Detroit, but we’d still bet that some of what you see here - our money would be on that large display at the base of the windscreen - seems likely to make it into Toyota’s next generation of hybrid and electric car.