Toyota Prius hybrid review




The green car revolution. It is the unlikely transport of choice for the thinking film star's passage to the Oscars. And it has probably made its creator a loss for years. But the Toyota Prius has come to symbolise all cleaner, greener cars, as the biggest-selling low-emission car on the planet.
Its success is not without controversy, however. Critics of the petrol/electric hybrid Prius argue that its CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are no better than those of a good diesel, that its motorway fuel economy is very average and that it makes little sense to carry the heft of an additional battery and an electric motor that is frequently idle when the car is cruising.
Toyota categorises the Prius in the Ford Mondeo class of family cars. No conventionally propelled car in this class gets close to the Prius's 89g/km CO2 figure, nor its 72.4mpg Combined fuel consumption (which happens to be the same figure for Urban consumption).
That claimed figure was a source of contention with the previous model, many drivers getting nowhere near it in practice, though that hasn't prevented them from becoming among the most satisfied car owners on the planet according to some surveys.
The difference between the claims and reality is an area that Toyota's engineers have tackled with this new-generation model. Cleaner aerodynamics and low rolling-resistance tyres have produced one third of the 10 per cent economy improvement, while an enlarged petrol engine and improved transmission efficiency produce most of the rest of the gains, which are all the more impressive given that this Prius is quicker to 62mph and 70kg heavier.
Note that if you buy the Prius with the larger, 17in wheels the fuel consumption and emissions deteriorate slightly (70.6mpg and 92g/km), although the top speed and 0-62mph time are identical.
So, does it work? During a brief economy run we achieved 80.5mpg, though we travelled quite slowly. Driven briskly, that fell to 48.7mpg, but a typical drive should see consumption well into the 50s, with 60mpg a real possibility.
And there are more tools, this time, to help you achieve it. The previous Prius could be driven in electric mode only, but was barely capable of travelling more than a few hundred yards, whereas this one will go more than a mile.

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