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Toyota Prius review: 4.0/5

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Improvements in efficiency and refinement boost all-new Toyota Prius hybrid.

Dave Humphreys

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: February 16, 2016

Words: - @LordHumphreys

Published on: February 16, 2016

Tech Specs

Model testedToyota Prius
Pricingrange starts at €31,450; as tested €33,550
Engine1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol with permanent magnet synchronous motor
Transmissioncontinuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door hatchback
CO2 emissions70g/km (Band A1, €170 per annum)
Combined economy94.1mpg (3.0 litres/100km)
Top speed180km/h
0-100km/h10.6 seconds
Power122hp at 5,200rpm (combined system)
Torque163Nm (combined system)
Boot space501- to 1,633 litres
EuroNCAP ratingnot yet tested

Big improvements in both design and technology give the Toyota Prius newfound appeal that is now enough to really make the mainstream market sit up and take note. Here's our first drive of the new hybrid hatchback.

In the Metal:

The new Toyota Prius is significantly more angular than its predecessor and stands out much more from the rest of the current model line-up. Nonetheless, the exterior styling will be highly divisive and is clearly influenced by the hydrogen-powered Mirai, but aerodynamics have also played a dominant role is shaping this new Prius. The silhouette and proportions are still instantly recognisable as those of a Prius though.

Some of the biggest improvements to the Prius come inside where the layout and styling of the cabin has been greatly improved. The dashboard and centre console retain a familiar Prius layout, with the main instrument display located in the middle at the base of the windscreen. As the small, stubby gear selector is located on the centre console itself (as with previous models), there is a large storage area between the front seats. This includes a deep storage bin, two cup holders and can be equipped with a wireless charging point for mobile phones. There is still a lot of plastic throughout the cabin, but both the look and quality of this has been improved.

Space for rear passengers is good, even with that sloped roofline. The middle seat does leave the occupant sitting a little higher up, but for two adults the rear is more than roomy. Boot capacity has also increased by 56 litres to 501 litres thanks to a new shape for the battery, which is 110mm thinner. The large boot lid is manually operated and gives a generous aperture for loading bulkier items though the load lip is a little high.


Driving it:

Where the new Toyota Prius really impresses is on the move. It was all too easy to criticise the unrefined nature of previous models' CVT automatic transmissions, but this time around the Prius has firmly put those to bed. In everyday town driving light to moderate use of the throttle delivers a smooth and quiet ride. The interaction between the combustion engine and electric motor is far less perceptible than before.

The hybrid battery comes with a 28 per cent improvement in charging, which translates to being able to spend more time at lower speeds in pure electric mode. At higher speeds the car can also engage a coasting function in EV mode to further prolong driving distance without impacting on range.

When the petrol engine does engage it does so smoothly and noticeably quieter than in previous models. Refinements to the engine itself, as well as better sound insulation, contributes to this and it demonstrates how a hybrid should perform. Official consumption figures suggest a rate of 3.0 litres/100km being attainable and on our test drive, which was on a variety of roads including motorway speeds with three people in the car, the average consumption of 4.8 litres/100km was respectable - and on a par with most diesel cars. A CO2 emissions figure of 70g/km will also add to the appeal of the Prius for some.

The new car's comfort levels also deserve a mention, with newly designed front seats providing good levels of support without looking or feeling overly bolstered. This isn't a car that you're going to drive too enthusiastically; that's not what this is about, but the Prius is more than capable of carrying speed while remaining composed.


What you get for your Money:

In Ireland there will be two Prius models offered, the standard version and a more generously equipped Prius Luxury; these will be priced at €31,450 and €33,550 respectively.

The standard Prius will feature 15-inch alloy wheels, electrically folding mirrors, front fog lights, Smart Entry for the driver, automatic air conditioning, a reversing camera, seven-inch Toyota Touch multimedia system, LED headlights and daytime running lamps, a 4.2-inch TFT dashboard display and lumbar support.

For an additional €2,100 buyers can move to the Prius Luxury. Over the equipment listed in the standard model this adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, heated front seats, Smart Entry for passenger and boot, Wireless Phone Charger, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Both models will also feature Toyota Safety Sense. This package includes Road Sign Assist, which recognises and displays roads signs such as speed limits, Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision System, Auto High Beam and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Summary

Toyota has really upped its game with this new Prius. It is a well-finished car in its own right that just happens to also have a hybrid powertrain. The technical improvements and competitive pricing makes it a good alternative to the current crop of diesel-powered alternatives.



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Ford Fusion Hybrid | CompleteCar.ie
Ford Mondeo Hybrid vs. Toyota Prius: not officially on sale yet, but this could be a more spacious contender.

Car Reviews | Nissan Leaf 30kWh | CompleteCar.ie
Nissan LEAF vs. Toyota Prius: offers similar space inside, but some may find its pure electric system limiting.

Car Reviews | Volkswagen Passat GTE | CompleteCar.ie
Volkswagen Passat GTE vs. Toyota Prius: bigger, more expensive and is a plug-in hybrid capable of longer electric-only driving.

Tech Specs

Model testedToyota Prius
Pricingrange starts at €31,450; as tested €33,550
Engine1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol with permanent magnet synchronous motor
Transmissioncontinuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door hatchback
CO2 emissions70g/km (Band A1, €170 per annum)
Combined economy94.1mpg (3.0 litres/100km)
Top speed180km/h
0-100km/h10.6 seconds
Power122hp at 5,200rpm (combined system)
Torque163Nm (combined system)
Boot space501- to 1,633 litres
EuroNCAP ratingnot yet tested