The Prius family of hybrid cars from Toyota is going to get a little bigger as of January when the Japanese automaker will launch a new compact hybrid car for the Japanese market: the 2012 Toyota Aqua.

According to Reuters News Service, the Nikkei business daily reports that the compact gasoline electric hybrid will achieve a gas mileage of 94 mpg on the Japanese test cycle-- making it the most fuel-efficient gasoline car to date.  

There’s no official pictures of the Aqua yet, but we’d like to guess that the mysterious C-segment concept shown in Toyota’s most recent Prius television adverts could hint at what the finished car will look like. 

It has also been previewed by not one but two concept cars at two successive Detroit Auto Shows. This year's Prius C concept evolved some of the styling and packaging ideas first shown in the FT-Ch concept from January 2010.

Aimed at younger and female drivers, the Aqua will complement Toyota’s existing hybrid range, which includes the 2012 Prius hatchback, 2012 Prius V wagon, and 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Price-wise, Reuters reports that the Aqua will sell for around 1.7 million yen, or about $22,000 by today’s exchange rates. When it comes to the U.S., it will likely have to slot in noticeably below the current mid-size Prius hatchback, which has a base price starting at $23,520.

As for fuel economy? Since the quoted 94 mpg is almost surely a test result from the Japanese fuel economy tests and not the more strenuous test cycles used by the U.S. EPA, expect a real-world combined gas-mileage rating of closer to 60 mpg when the car lands at Toyota dealers next year.


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