The new Toyota Prius is a furiously efficient and nice to drive hybrid
The quirky Toyota Prius has been redesigned from the ground up, with the Japanese giant using the new eco-friendly car to debut its new New Global Architecture (TNGA), which is said to improve rigidity by 60%, in addition to improvements to ride and handling.
The hybrid battery has now been moved under the backseat, increasing boot space to a respectably 502 litres. Toyota has also said to have increased the thermal efficiency of the 1.8 litre petrol engine, thus hypothetically reducing fuel consumption.
We sampled the more generously specified Prius i-Tech which includes a heads up display, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind sport monitoring, a substantial JBL stereo and leather seats, with seat heating for those up front.
The Toyota Prius i-Tech is priced from $42,990 plus on road costs.
What we like:
- Impressive efficiency
Not so much:
- Some visibility issues
- Near useless rear wiper
- No parking sensors even on top spec model
- Central instrument cluster isn’t for everyone.
The new Toyota Prius’ interior is as modern and dynamic as its polarising exterior. There’s the signature centrally mounted instrument binnacle with digital displays for the speedometer, trip computer and odometer as well as a multifunction screen that provides a diagram on hybrid system activity. The second display even scores the driver on their driving style and makes suggestions on how the driver can make their driving style more efficient.
The large digital speedo is located on the far right of the instrument cluster, so road speed is always in the driver’s left peripheral vision. If this isn’t your cup of tea, i-Tech models are fitted with a heads up display, which we found most preferable.
Fit and finish along with the use of materials are all excellent and the dash design is pretty straight forward. There still is Toyota’s hybrid gear lever, which can take some getting used to, as we’ve mentioned in our review of the Corolla Hybrid.
Handily, there’s also a wireless charging dock for one’s smartphone at the base of the centre stack along with USB port should that be required.
Interior packaging is a standout, and despite having the dimensions of a small hatch, the Prius’ cabin space is almost comparable to that of a Camry and the little green mobile could also be suited to family duties.
The boot is big too, measuring 502 litres in capacity.
Under the Bonnet
The new Toyota Prius’ drivetrain consists of a 1.8 litre petrol engine that makes [email protected],200rpm and [email protected],600rpm. The combustion engine is matched to a parallel series hybrid system, with the electric motor producing a maximum of 53kW.
Performance is beyond adequate for most drivers and the switch between electric and petrol motors is very nearly seamless. The electric motor does the majority of the work too, even in Performance Mode – you can choose between EV, Eco and Performance driving modes – and we never saw average fuel consumption figures exceed 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres, however 4.5 litres per 100km was the most common figure during test week.
EV mode is only really good for a total of 20 kilometres or so of slow moving traffic, so don’t expect to complete the morning commute using this function. The system also appeared to be a great improvement on that in the older Prius V, which always appeared to run out of battery charge too quickly.
Toyota claims an average combined fuel consumption figure of 3.4 litres per 100 kilometres.
On the Road
The new Toyota Prius is quiet, refined and surprisingly pleasant to drive. The hybrid hatch is no scorching driver’s car, but road noise is minimal, the ride is comfortable and it handles tidily. Steering feeling is a tad artificial and detached, but it is nonetheless acceptable.
There are some gripes with visibility though, especially at the rear, where that large bar in the rear window eats into visibility dramatically, and the rear wiper covers such a portion of the rear window that it is almost redundant.
Moreover, parking sensors are nowhere to be seen, even on the range topping i-Tech, which is unusual on such a techy car, especially one laden with technology such as lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
There is a reversing camera fitted as standard, though, and the adaptive cruise is by far the best system we’ve sampled in any Toyota, smoothly maintaining the pre-selected distance to the car in front.
The Toyota Prius is backed by a three-year 100,000 kilometre warranty.
Name: Toyota Prius i-Tech
Engine: 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine, [email protected],200rpm and [email protected],600rpm, 53kW electric motor single-speed automatic.
Price: $42,990 plus on road costs
Country of Origin: Japan
Options: Graphite metallic paint $550