With the 2016 Toyota Prius scheduled to make its global debut in Las Vegas on the evening of September 8, you had to figure that photos of the car would leak out at some point.

And so they have.

After years of spy shots of camouflaged Prius development mules, pre-production prototypes, and test vehicles, now we can see the actual lines of the 2016 Prius.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Toyota Prius: Next Hybrid Aims For 55 MPG, More Room, Better Handling (Aug 2013)

The photos shown here came from a Facebook post submitted to the page for Prius Club Malaysia, which requires membership to view (via DPC Cars).

And as expected, the fourth-generation Prius has at least some styling cues from the rather more extreme Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle--especially at the rear.

2016 Toyota Prius leaked - Image via Prius Club Malaysia

2016 Toyota Prius leaked - Image via Prius Club Malaysia

The "floating" roof with a blacked-out pillar echoes the Mirai, as do the high taillights with angled lighting elements in them.

The Prius remains a very high-tailed hatchback, however, and continues to feature a second glass panel in the vertical part of the tailgate for better rearward visibility.

Toyota executives have said that the 2016 Prius will have fuel efficiency that's at least 10 percent better than the prior model, which came in at 50 miles per gallon combined--so we can expect 55 mpg or better for the new model.

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That's due to a new engine with even higher levels of thermal efficiency, as well as Toyota's characteristic refinements to cost, size, and efficiency of the electrical components.

The company has also suggested that the all-new Prius will be more rewarding to drive, perhaps with more road feel and tighter European roadholding and handling.

There will also be a new-generation Prius Plug-In Hybrid, with an electric range as high as 30 miles, but that car will lag the introduction of the conventional hybrid version by roughly a year.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

The latest Prius is the first car to be built on an all-new component set--known as Toyota New Generation Architecture, or TNGA--that the company will use to cut development costs for the most expensive and time-consuming parts of a new car.

Those include front crash structures, suspension components, and other structural elements, which can be shared among vehicles of differing lengths, widths, wheelbases, and drive systems.

Volkswagen launched a similar system on the 2014 Audi A3 and 2015 Volkswagen Golf, and will eventually build up to 4 million cars a year using its MQB architecture.

Other carmakers are following suit as well, but Toyota's ruthless ability to cut costs and keep corporate profits high makes this a particularly important innovation for the company.

[hat tip: Philip Davies]


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