The Toyota Aqua might sound familiar and yet a little foreign to some. When it was first introduced at the end of 2011, the Aqua was the baby Prius, where it featured a much smaller 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain with a total output of 100 hp.
The name Aqua, derived from the Latin word for water, is meant to evoke an image of clean transparency as well as of something that is universally cherished. Also, the Aqua is meant to break the conventional image of hybrid vehicles, becoming something fluid and not constrained to any one shape or role―like free-flowing water.
The name did not resonate with consumers outside of Japan, so Toyota used the Prius C name for the rest of the world. Riding on the Prius nameplate helped too, as it was much easy to explain to your friends you are driving a smaller Prius than an Aqua.
Thanks to the short-lived hybrid vehicle tax incentive for CBU models, the Prius C was offered in Malaysia for under RM100,000 in 2012, with the model being discontinued by 2014 due to a 50% more expensive price tag with the inclusion of import and excise duties.
Toyota today finally unveiled the second-generation Toyota Aqua. Over nine years, approximately 1.87 million units of the model have been sold and Toyota estimates a reduction of 12.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The company is approaching the development of the Aqua in the same way as it did ten years ago- a compact car that is safe, comfortable, superior fuel consumption and simple.
Compared to the new Toyota Yaris, the new Toyota Aqua has a larger footprint utilizing the same TNGA GA-B platform, measuring 110 mm longer together with a 50 mm longer wheelbase. They both share the same 1,695 mm-width which enables the vehicles to be placed in a lower tax bracket in Japan.
Styling-wise, the Toyota Aqua looks more evolutionary when compared to its predecessor. The vertical-oriented taillamps are now much larger and feature a more high-tech look with black surrounds.
Both the Toyota Yaris Hybrid and Toyota Aqua share the same fourth-generation Toyota Hybrid System that pairs a 1.5-litre three-cylinder Dynamic Force engine with electric motors. However, for the Toyota Aqua, the energy storage features a new bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery.
This new construction of the battery system simplifies multiple cell arrangement for a more compact dimension whilst delivering higher output. Fuel efficiency for the Toyota Aqua is certified to be as high as 35.8 km/l under the WLTP test cycle, just 0.2 km/l worse than the most basic Toyota Yaris hybrid that is also lighter.
No mention of the total system output with the new battery. For reference, the current Toyota Yaris hybrid with lithium-ion battery has 116 hp and completes the 0 to 100 km/h in 9.7 seconds.
The new Aqua will also feature Toyota’s version of one-pedal driving called the Comfort Pedal under the Power Plus mode with higher regenerative braking.
Learning through feedback from emergency services and Nissan with its Leaf, Toyota is equipping all new Aqua variants with a high-power outlet (AC 100V/1,500 W) as well as an Emergency Power Supply mode. This will prove useful during times of disaster where the Aqua’s battery can be used to power basic simple home appliances such as electric kettles and hair dryers.
Being a dedicated hybrid-only model, the new Aqua gets a shift-by-wire system placed on the dashboard. This allows more storage space at the lower console. Toyota is also debuting their latest infotainment display in a compact car with the new Aqua, with the screen measuring 10.5 inches.
The interior will also be more upmarket than the Yaris, with soft-trimmed surfaces at key touchpoints. As for safety systems, the new Aqua is the first compact car from the brand to offer the Toyota Teammate Advanced Park and Parking Support Brake features.
Toyota is offering four variants of the new Aqua with a price range from 1,980,000 Yen (RM76,000) to 2,598,000 Yen (RM100,000), just slightly more than the Yaris Hybrid variants. The company has very high hopes for the new Aqua too, expecting sales of 9,800 units per month!