2015 Toyota Prius V
Since his arrival about five years ago, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has pushed for more exciting styling and better driving dynamics in the carmaker's products.
So with an entirely redesigned version of Toyota's halo car--the Prius hybrid--set for the 2016 model year, its designers will emphasize styling like never before.
The original styling for the new hybrid was rejected for being too staid, sending those designers back to the drawing board, according to Automotive News (subscription required).
That contributed to a delay of several months in the car's launch; it was originally intended to go on sale this coming spring, but now that will happen at the end of the year.
Toyota C-HR concept, 2014 Paris Auto Show
While it's unclear what executives specifically disliked about the original design, the revised version reportedly borrows some styling cues from the C-HR concept--a compact crossover that debuted at this year's Paris Motor Show.
The 2016 Prius will retain its five-door hatchback layout, but it will apparently feature some version of the C-HR's "diamond architecture" styling.
That would include a more-aggressive grille and wheel arches, and a more sharply-tapered roof line.
Toyota will also reportedly make more of an effort to differentiate the standard Prius hybrid from the plug-in hybrid version.
Whereas the hybrid will get most of the sportier styling, the plug-in will continue with a more staid appearance. The standard Prius may also get some aluminum body panels to save weight, while the plug-in will get even lighter plastic panels.
One thing neither version will get, however, is styling influenced by the 2016 Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car.
2016 Toyota Mirai
Toyota wanted to give the Mirai a distinctive look, so none of its styling features will carry over to any other models. Depending on your perspective, that may be a good thing.
However, the 2016 Prius will probably feature design themes similar to those of other recent Toyota models, including the 2015 Camry and the recently-updated Prius V and Prius C hybrids.
That means a lot will be riding on the Prius redesign.
Toyota hopes a sportier Prius will attract a more diverse array of buyers--but as the brand's most visible model, it could make or break Toyota's new styling philosophy.