All-New Toyota Aqua Hybrid Debuts In Japan After A Decade

This new Aqua is actually quite an interesting hybrid proposition beneath all that blandness. 

Now in a world of flamboyant new car launches, Toyota’s recent debut of its new Aqua might perhaps not seem like the most exciting car to arrive in recent time. This is especially considering that in the era of striking design and fancy features, one of the major points its makers are hyping up with its all new iteration of hybrid compact car in a decade is the newly developed Clear Beige exterior hue. 

Despite the beige however, the new Aqua does actually pack an innovative suite of sensible tech within. Seeing as Toyota intends to ramp up production for CKD vehicles locally, this second iteration of its hybrid hatchback does also make quite a good case for itself to arrive in Malaysia. 

Kicking things off with its innovative tech first, those who are expecting some exciting headline will perhaps be disappointed. That is because the biggest story here with the new Aqua is possibly the fact that it is the first vehicle in the world to use a ‘high-output bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery as an electric drive battery’. 

To those who don’t understand what this means and wishes to know more, here is a link to a full in-depth explanation by Toyota on its new battery technology. The gist of it though is that the bipolar setup has approximately twice the output in comparison to a conventional non-bipolar battery, hence netting a larger all-electric range for the Aqua and improved acceleration responsiveness. 

As for the combustion engine part of the hybrid equation meanwhile, under the hood of the new Aqua lies a 1.5-liter Dynamic Force four cylinder. Essentially same petrol power plant as to be found on its TNGA-B platform-mate Yaris, the big figure that Toyota is touting in this department is its impressive combined 35.8 km/l fuel efficiency claim. 

What is perhaps more impressive about the new Aqua’s powertrain though is that it can be available with Toyota’s e-Four all-wheel drive system, and that this hybrid hatchback comes with one-pedal driving. Something typically only found as standard on full EVs, the Power Pedal feature that is available when this electrified compact car is in Power+ Mode essentially applies greater regenerative braking as the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal to bring the vehicle to a gentle stop. 

And in continuing the topic of stopping, the new Aqua is naturally available with a full suite of Toyota Safety Sense active and passive driver aids. These include Full Speed Range Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, and an expanded pre-collision safety suite that now covers imminent accidents on turning left or right at intersections. 

Toyota Teammate Advanced Park and Parking Support Brake is also available on the new Aqua too, which is a first for a compact car in the Japanese automaker’s lineup. These two features basically allow for drivers in simply pressing a button to park, with the car controlling its ‘steering wheel, brake, accelerator, and gear shifting operations; in addition to detecting stationary objects in front of and behind the vehicle’.  

In wrapping up the interesting features with this new Aqua, this hybrid hatchback comes as standard with a 1,500 W accessory power outlet and an emergency power supply mode that can be used to power electrical appliances such as electric kettles and hair dryers during emergency situations. This is a callback to this particular Toyota’s roots, as its predecessor was launched the same year as the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011. 

On the subject of its predecessor, this new Aqua nets a 50 mm increase in wheelbase and a subtly altered exterior aesthetic over the decade old model that came before. The interior of this new car has been revised to a greater extent however, netting a large 10.5-inch central infotainment touchscreen and several other convenience features, like a tissue box storage space in the front passenger seat upper box for instance. 

The new Aqua is currently on sale in Japan with a starting price of ¥1,980,000 (RM 76,000), or can be had over there through a monthly subscription of ¥19,580 (RM 750) via the Japanese automaker’s KINTO ONE service. Toyota is also expecting sale of of this hybrid hatchback to be strong too, with a monthly target of 9,800 units.

It remains to be seen though on whether this new iteration of hybrid hatchback will once again make an official return to Malaysia in the near future. If it does return however, it should serve as a rather efficient alternative to the petrol-powered ASEAN-spec Yaris here. 

PRESS RELEASE: Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announced that it will launch its all-new Aqua on July 19, 2021.

Aiming to achieve carbon neutrality, Toyota has been making ever-better cars based on the concept of “introducing sustainable vehicles practically to the market”.

As part of this process, the first-generation Aqua came to life at the Iwate Plant of Toyota Motor East Japan, Inc. (then, Kanto Auto Works, Ltd.) in 2011, the year of the Great East Japan Earthquake. With a desire to greatly increase hybrid-vehicle familiarity, as well as in pursuit of “creating a compact car for the next 10 years”, the Aqua combined the superb practicality of a compact car with the outstanding fuel efficiency and quietness of a hybrid electric-only model at an affordable price. Since its launch, more than 1.87 million units of the Aqua have been cherished by their owners, contributing to an overall reduction in CO2 of approximately 12.4 million tons.

The all-new Aqua inherits and refines the roles undertaken by its predecessor, and, in pursuit of once again “creating a compact car for the next 10 years”, in addition to a suite of features designed to enable customers to drive their vehicles every day with joy, safety, peace of mind, and comfort, it also realizes superior environmental performance. In addition to excellent environmental performance such as in the form of low fuel consumption at 35.8 kilometers per liter, it achieves high-quality driving performance by way of comfortable acceleration. Also, as can be expected, the Aqua comes with a full range of carefully considered equipment, including as standard on all grades a 100-volt (alternating current)/1,500-watt accessory power outlet and an emergency power supply mode that allows electricity to be drawn from the vehicle for external use during blackouts.

Toyota espouses the concept of a “home planet” and believes it has a duty to bequeath this beautiful Earth to future generations. Going forward, the company will continue to engage in making ever-better cars to contribute to the realization of carbon neutrality and the production of happiness for all through automobiles.

Details of the all-new Aqua are outlined below.

  1. Combining the comfortable, refined ride and outstanding environmental performance of an electrified vehicle

    1. Innovative battery technologies

The all-new Aqua is the world’s first vehicle to use a high-output bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery as an electric drive battery. Compared to the nickel-hydrogen battery equipped to the previous-generation Aqua, the new battery realizes approximately twice the output; it also delivers improved accelerator responsiveness, and enables smooth, linear acceleration from low speeds. In addition, the speed range at which the all-new Aqua can operate on electrical power alone has been expanded, allowing the vehicle to run on electricity alone, without engaging the engine, in a wide variety of urban scenarios.

    1. A new driving experience unique to a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV)

The all-new Aqua is the first Toyota model to feature the Comfort Pedal. By selecting the Power+ Mode, drivers only have to relax pressure on the accelerator pedal to generate regenerative braking force, and smoothly slow the vehicle. The Comfort Pedal reduces driver burden by lessening the frequency with which accelerator and brake pedals have to be pressed, and also results in responsive feedback. The latest generation is also the first Aqua to adopt E-Four, which provides drivers with greater peace of mind when driving on snow-covered roads.

Thanks to a highly efficient 1.5-liter Dynamic Force Engine and an optimized HEV system, the all-new Aqua not only achieves compact class-leading fuel economy of 35.8 km/L, but combines this with the comfortable driving characteristics of an HEV.

  1. Cutting-edge safety and security functions

    1. The latest active safety package

The Aqua is a model intended for frequent use in its owners’ everyday lives, and Toyota believes it ought to be equipped with an abundance of safety and security functions. The all-new Aqua is equipped as standard with the latest edition of Toyota Safety Sense, which is replete with cutting-edge active safety functions: its pre-collision safety functions feature an expanded scope of operation, now covering accidents that occur when turning left or right at intersections; Full Speed Range Radar Cruise Control makes car outings more comfortable; Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) provides steering support to keep the vehicle centered in its lane; and Plus Support controls sudden acceleration due to misapplication of the accelerator pedal.

For the first time in a Toyota compact car, the all-new Aqua is equipped with Toyota Teammate Advanced Park and Parking Support Brake. Toyota Teammate Advanced Park provides support for all parking operations, including steering wheel, brake, accelerator, and gear shifting operations; in addition to detecting stationary objects in front of and behind the vehicle, the latest version of Parking Support Brake is capable of detecting stationary objects on either side, and provides alerts and brake control to help avoid collisions. In this way, the all-new Aqua delivers driver support in a wide range of scenarios, including when driving and parking.

    1. All grades are equipped with power supply functions, for use in times of disaster and other emergencies

An accessory power outlet (AC100 V / 1,500 W) and an emergency power supply mode are equipped to all grades as standard. During blackouts and other times of emergency, parking the vehicle and placing it in Emergency Power Supply Mode enables the Aqua to be used to power electrical appliances such as electric kettles and hair dryers. When driving normally, the vehicle can be used to power appliances via its accessory power outlet, and also to charge smartphones and other electrical devices via its in-cabin USB terminals.

  1. A refined body structure and an advanced design

    1. The convenience of a compact car and the refined ride of a high-rigidity body

By using the TNGA (GA-B) platform in the same compact body as before, the all-new Aqua realizes a high-rigidity body, exceptional quietness, and a stable ride. While retaining the same, compact body size ideally suited to Japanese road conditions, the Aqua’s wheelbase has been extended by 50 mm; this provides both greater space particularly for passengers seated in the rear seats, and expands the luggage space, resulting in greater convenience.

    1. An elegant, simple, and class-beating design based on the principle of Harmo-tech (Advanced yet familiar technologies that stimulate the intellect and the senses)

A relaxed, unified cabin silhouette is coupled with rear fenders that extend out to the sides, creating a smart, emotional, and dynamic exterior that befits the Aqua. The vehicle is available in a total of nine, high-quality colors; this includes the newly developed Clear Beige, which delivers a simple, clear impression well-matched to the Aqua’s smart form.

In the interior, various functions have been placed together to create a simple, clean, and elegant-looking space. Its cabin features soft, synthetic leather-bound ornaments and armrests, and convenient and comfortable synthetic leather power seats, which exceed all expectations; cabin storage has also been cleverly designed with convenience in mind―a tissue box can be stored in the front passenger seat upper box, while a center console sliding tray enables charging cables to be cleanly stowed away. The all-new Aqua also becomes the first Toyota compact car to feature a large, 10.5-inch audio display, delivering outstanding operability and visibility.

The all-new Aqua is also offered via the KINTO ONE car subscription service; customers can sign up either online or at Toyota dealers. The all-new Aqua is available from just 19,580 yen per month (including tax) when using the seven-year lease plan with added bonus payments of 110,000 yen (including tax). For further details on the KINTO car subscription service, please visit the KINTO website: (Japanese only)

The all-new Aqua is also available as part of the Welcab series, offered in Wheelchair Storage Device, Front Passenger Turn Tilt, and Friendmatic Seat models.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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