- Toyota has released a new version of the Aqua hybrid hatchback, previously called the Prius C in the U.S.
- The Prius C was discontinued in America a few years ago and is unlikely to return.
- The new Japan-market Aqua offers all-wheel drive and a single-pedal function that uses the regenerative brakes to slow the car to a stop like many EVs do.
Toyota’s Prius lineup in the U.S. used to include several distinct models but has now shrunk to include just the standard Prius and the Prius Prime plug-in-hybrid. But while the larger Prius V and the smaller Prius C disappeared from our shores years ago, the Prius C has continued on elsewhere in the world. It’s especially popular in Japan, where it’s known as the Aqua, and a redesigned version is set to go on sale in Toyota’s home market soon.
The new Aqua looks far more modern than before both inside and out and rides on a new platform with a 2.0-inch longer wheelbase. Its gas-electric powertrain uses a 1.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine combined with electric motor-generators, and it’s available with either front- or all-wheel drive. A new system called Comfort Pedal is able to use the regenerative braking system to similar effect as found in many EVs; lifting off the gas pedal activates the regen to slow the car, meaning drivers won’t need to use the brake pedal as often.
We don’t expect to see the Prius C nameplate return to the U.S. market anytime soon, meaning the Aqua will remain a JDM-only oddity for the time being. But we may see the Comfort Pedal system or some of its styling elements on future U.S. models.