Toyota is aiming to become the number one car seller in the country and has just unveiled a number of new and updated models to regain the leader's crown. Heading into a new year where Dave Shannon, managing director sees new car sales running at 55,000 for 2010, and an extra 10,000 sales if there is a government-backed scrappage scheme in next month's budget, Toyota aims to improve on its 15 per cent market share.
"We will improve our market share next year, we have new models and some price drops," he said at the launch of a new Verso, new Prius and upgrades and design changes in the RAV4 and Hilux twincab.
He denied that the price cuts meant Toyota was joining a price war as several other leading car makers have trimmed prices during the past few months
"There is incredible value out there and Toyota has the finance packages for those who meet the credit criteria and 80 per cent if our customers do" he said.
The Verso, no longer called the Corolla Verso, is a third-generation compact MPV and is being marketed with a longer and wider shell. The height remains the same.
The 70mm extra length gives more generous space inside and the boot capacity with all seven seats in places has increased to 155 litres to the top of the back seat
The new model has a better turning circle and the longer and wider wheelbase gives improved stability. Inside there is a totally new dash design while the second and third row seats slide, recline and fold flat. If extra cargo area is needed the full flat-floor area gains an additional 185mm in length and 240mm in width.
The Verso is practical when it comes to storage. There are nine 500ml cup holder, a cooler box that can hold a 1.5-litre bottle and storage boxes in the floor area while there is room for four golf bags when the third row seats are stowed down. In the Luna grade the second row seats get aviation tables with cup holders.
Safety features include seven airbags, active front headrests, hill assist and traction control with VSC to counteract under steer and over steer to give vehicle stability.
The Verso gets new valvematic Petrol and refined D-4D power units which bring both the 1.6 petrol and diesel power plants into lower C02 tax bands. The 1.6-litre petrol Verso models start at €29,850 the 1.8-litre model at €33,310 and the 2-litre diesel models go from €29,150 to €33,430 depending on trim levels.
The 1.6-litre engine gets 20 per cent more power, seven per cent more torque and emissions are lower by nine per cent. Fuel consumption is down by 11 per cent to 6.8L/100km.
The new Prius is longer and wider with a completely restyled front end and a sleek lift back at the rear. A new feature is the head-up display which transfers the Speedo reading, ECO drive information (if a satnav is specified) to the windscreen so the driver does not have to take eyes from the line of vision with the road.
Another novel option is the availability of a solar powered roof panel which drives a blower motor to keep cabin temperature down when the car is parked. There is also a remote control air conditioning key so the driver can activate the aircon before entering the car.
The Prius gets a five-star Euro NCAP has the full range of braking aids cruise control and a pre-crash safety system.
A new feature is the switchable drive mode whereby power mode, ECO mode and EV- all electric mode can be selected. In EV mode the Prius can travel for 2km battery power with no emissions.
The hybrid system now used a new powerful 1.8-litre engine giving a 30 per cent improvement over the 1.5-litre unit in the previous model. The economy in urban driving is up by a very impressive 22 per cent. In out of form driving Toyota say economy runs at 3.7L/100km (76.3mpg) while emissions are down 15 per cent to 89g/km.
Prius prices start at €25,995. The prices of the restyled RAV 4 are still being negotiated. The Hilux prices go from €21,670 for the single cab to €37,190 for the double cab.