The Toyota Prius C left the US market after the 2019 model year but the electrified small hatchback soldiered on at home in Japan where it's sold as the Aqua. The second-generation model is making its debut today and has some big shoes to fill as the original racked up 1.87 million sold units in its 10 years on the market.

The 2022 Aqua is billed as an all-new development by switching to the TNGA-B platform to improve fuel efficiency by 20 percent compared to the model it replaces. It offers one-pedal operation (aka Comfort Pedal) and even comes in an all-wheel-drive version on the more expensive trim levels equipped with the E-Four system.  

It has another ace up its sleeve by supporting bidirectional charging, which is a feature commonly associated with pure EVs. All flavors of the Aqua get an accessory power outlet (AC100 V / 1,500 W) and an emergency power supply mode as standard, with an Emergency Power Supply Mode allowing the car to feed juice to electrical appliances during blackouts.

From its EV mode to a rotating driver's seat, the new Aqua is impressively equipped for a compact hatchback. Its wheelbase has been stretched by 50 millimeters (1.96 inches) for greater rear legroom and more cargo space. Speaking of the interior, it's the first Toyota of this size to get a 10.5-inch infotainment.

Since we're on the subject of firsts, the Japanese marque claims the 2022 Aqua is the first production car to use a high-output bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery. It has twice the output of the previous generation's nickel-hydrogen battery and provides better acceleration responsiveness while working together with the 1.5-liter gasoline engine. In addition, it enables the Aqua to travel at higher speeds in EV mode than before.

Customers in Japan can buy the 2022 Aqua outright from 1,980,000 JPY ($18,000) for the base front-wheel-drive B trim, rising to 2,598,000 JPY ($23,600) for the all-paw E-Four model in the Z guise. Alternatively, the electrified small hatch can be obtained through the Kinto One subscription service from 19,580 JPY ($178) per month on a seven-year lease plan.

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