The new Toyota Prius at a glance
- For the first time only available as a plug-in hybrid
- The electric motor has more power than the 2.0-liter gasoline engine
- Fast sprint to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds
- Weak charging power with only 3.3 KW
- The price is confident at 45,290 euros
Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid: ugly was yesterday
It was the Primus inter Pares – the Prius from Toyota (combined fuel consumption: 0.8-0.5 l/100 km; combined electricity consumption: 16.4-13.3 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 17-11 g/km; combined electric range: up to 86 km)². The first car to popularize hybrid propulsion. A pop star of the car world, loved and demonized in equal measure. A vehicle that taxi drivers swore by because it was really economical in city use. It was never beautiful – until the current fifth generation. It even won the highly coveted design prize “Red Dot Award” and also the highest award “Best of the Best”. Prius inter pares – the hybrid vehicle is no longer the first among equals. This type of drive has become widespread in all sorts of different versions and has even become established in some countries such as Japan. So why buy the Prius? We tested the new model.
Finally beautiful after 25 years. The ugly duckling has become a stately swan. The wedge shape with the coupé line sloping backwards does not appear clunky or bulky because the designers have drawn in fine lines. The extremely flat radiator grille, for example, or the narrow, elongated headlights that cut into the front like a horizontal U. A fine body crease on the side ensures dynamism. It stretches diagonally from the bottom to the strong shoulders, as if someone had put a hook on it. The rear is dominated by the obligatory continuous strip of lights and the large rear window. Almost reminiscent of Volvo’s Snow White coffin. Anyone who opens the tailgate has to digest an initial shock. Cable bag, laptop bag – not much more fits in there. Admittedly, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But the trunk volume of 284 liters is just 20 liters more than that of the current 911 Carrera. And with a lot of squeezing, this is a 2+2 seater, whereas the Prius is approved for five.
There is at least enough space for four of them: the wheelbase of the Prius has increased by five centimeters, but the car is still five centimeters shorter (now 4.60 meters). Nevertheless, you sit a little cramped in the back. Maybe it’s also because of the altitude. Here the Prius again lost five centimeters, but it stands better on the road. This has an impact on aerodynamics and driving dynamics. The engineers have worked quite a bit on the latter. In order to achieve a lower center of gravity, the battery was moved under the back seat and the tank was moved to the front. In addition, the body is up to 30 percent stiffer. The result: The car has significantly increased its agility. Die-hard Prius drivers have to get used to it.
Strong electric motor: The combustion engine usually has a break
What will also be new for them is the elimination of a very special type of noise pollution. The engine, which was trimmed for efficiency using the so-called Miller process and therefore groaned at high speeds under high load requirements, was tamed. Firstly, it now has more displacement (2.0 instead of 1.8 liters). Secondly, he no longer has to do most of the work alone because he is no longer only supported by a small electric unit with an equally small battery. But through an electric motor with 163 hp, which even tops the combustion engine performance (152 hp). The petrol engine usually takes a back seat and only rarely has to step in. Only when you push it and want to squeeze out the last horsepower does it get louder again. And the battery, which has been increased from 8.8 to 13.6 kWh, also makes long electric gliding possible. According to factory specifications, up to over 80 kilometers.
Driving is now really fun. 6.8 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h – the Prius is no longer a lame duck here either. The chassis absorbs road bumps well, as long as they are not of a major nature. The steering may be a little numb with too little feedback. This means you always have a clear view of the road while behind the wheel. The steering wheel only has a diameter of 34 centimeters and is positioned quite low. This takes some getting used to at first. But this means you also have a clear field of vision of the seven-inch digital speedometer. In the middle of the dashboard is the infotainment screen with a simple tile look for navigation, telephone and music. Below that is a strip with switches for everything that has to do with air conditioning.
Some driving assistants are really annoying
The operation is simple. Provided you don’t have to delve too deeply into the menu. For example, we failed when trying to find the vehicle assistants to turn off the speed warning. From now on, this must be installed in all new cars and – you will hear and be amazed – thanks to the bureaucratic madness in Brussels, it will beep when you exceed 1 km/h. Quite annoying. We finally found what we were looking for in the manual: For anyone who wants to know: Select the “Vehicle Personalization” menu item under Settings and it should work. Because we are currently deactivating it. The annoying attention assistant, which monitors the driver via a camera on the steering wheel, is far too sensitive. He even complains when he can no longer recognize the face because the driver has sunk too far into the seat or his hand on the steering wheel is covering the camera lens.
Before we get to the final point of criticism, a quick shout out to the Toyotas. Firstly, we think it’s good that there is a heat pump, already in the series. And secondly, it’s cool that the Prius can charge itself. The optional solar roof now creates 185 watts. Under the best conditions, this gives you an additional electrical range of 8.7 kilometers per day. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether this is worthwhile. If you want it, you have to order the highest equipment variant, “Advanced” – and at 52,690 euros it costs 7,400 euros more than the basic Prius. However, you usually charge the plug-in hybrid at the socket. This is where the final weak point becomes apparent. The on-board charger only creates 3.3 kW. The battery is full in four hours. This is suitable if you want to charge at home. However, when you’re out and about, for example when shopping, it’s of little use.
Why did it take Toyota so long to make a nice Prius? Chief engineer Satoki Oya is happy to say that he wanted to build a Prius that would change the taxi image and inspire people. That was really successful. Especially since the small trunk would no longer be suitable for a taxi anyway. The strengths of the Prius lie in its design and its tasty but frugal drive. It has weaknesses when it comes to operation and charging. And it’s not exactly cheap either. (Text: Rudolf Bögel | Images: Manufacturer)
Technical data Toyota Prius*
|Model||Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid|
|Gasoline engine||2.0 liter four-cylinder|
|Combustion engine performance||112 kW (152 hp) at 6,000 rpm|
|Torque||190 Nm at 4,400 – 5,200 rpm|
|Electric motor performance||120 kW (163 HP) / 208 Nm|
|System performance||164 kW (223 hp)|
|battery||13.6 kWh lithium-ion|
|drive||Front-wheel drive/continuously variable automatic|
|Charging power||3.3kW (AC)|
|loading time||approx. 4 hours (0 to 100 percent)|
|Combined range||72 – 86 km²|
|Combined consumption||0.8-0.5 l/100 km²|
|Consumption (electricity)||16.4-13.3 kWh/100 km²|
|CO2 emissions combined||17-11 g/km²|
|Acceleration (0-100 km/h)||6.8s|
|Top speed||177 km/h|
|Weight/payload||approx. 1,545 kg / 450 kg|
|Base price Toyota Prius||from 45,290 euros|