Toyota Prius Review
Car Tested: 2013 Toyota Prius 1.8 Z6
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 40,43,960/-
The Prius is a practical hybrid vehicle that offers comfortable drivability with environment friendly characteristics.
This time around we bring to you a review of a rather unique vehicle, the Toyota Prius. Why Unique? It is modern, full of technology and it is a hybrid. It was launched initially in India in 2010 and has recently got a refresh in 2012. The Toyota Prius is directly imported into India as a CBU, hence the hefty price tag. The Prius is very different from other conventional cars in terms of looks as well as the way it drives. One more important thing it does what other cars do not, is offer low fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions which helps save mother earth. So let’s find out what this Rs. 40 lakh car has to offer.
Motor Quest: The Toyota Prius was launched in 1997 and became the first mass produced hybrid car. Toyota has sold more than 30 lakh units of the Prius worldwide with majority sales coming from the USA and Japan.
Exteriors – Most of the automakers spend relatively more time on the drawing board when it comes to designing a hybrid or electric vehicle. There are no exceptions in the case of the Prius, as Toyota has paid special attention to the futuristic styling of this hybrid vehicle. It is indeed an attention seeker because of its unique design and for the fact that there are very few examples on our roads. Up front the Prius boasts of a sharp headlight cluster housing projector lamps along with a thin grille divided by the Toyota logo, which is highlighted in blue shade to tell that it’s a hybrid Toyota. On the front bumper it gets a wide air inlet that integrates fog lamps alongside vertically shaped turn indicators, which is a neat touch.
The side profile of the Toyota Prius reflects a fish like design. The steeply raked windshield blends with the swoopy roofline that ends immediately at the angular shaped tail of the car. There is a sharp shoulder line on the side that erupts from the headlights and continues till the tail lights. The 15-inch wheels look a tad small in proportion to the well-sized body. The rear is the most attractive part of the Prius, where the hatch acts as a rear windshield blended with the roofline, which drops flat at the end, pointed with a sharp edge that looks like an integrated spoiler. The rear bumper is big and chunky and the vertical tail lamps are sharply treated with shiny bits, attracting good attention at the rear.
Interiors – The distinct design theory continues on the interiors too. The unorthodox dashboard layout of the Toyota Prius is highly inviting and as soon as you enter the cabin you get a good sense of space and roominess because of the big panoramic sunroof and heavy dosage of light colour tones. The dashboard gets a two tone finish which houses a wide panel information display on the top which tells you live functioning of the hybrid system, distance to empty, digital speedometer and similar vehicle related details. In the centre you find a thin set of air vents that are unusually sized but are impressively capable of cooling the cabin within no time.
There is a dual glove box with good storage space. The steering wheel is convenient to use with all the necessary controls stacked neatly. The centre console is stretched back till the front armrest and has a hollow storage space underneath. The console comes with a host of buttons and a touch screen display featuring JBL audio system with good quality sound. In the middle, it houses a funky little gear joystick that is effortless to use. Overall, the build quality is not what you would expect out of a Rs. 30 lakh plus car. It also rattles a bit when you hit a sharp section of the road.
All the seats are supportive and at the rear it offers oodles of legroom and headroom. The Toyota Prius is wide enough at the rear without any floor hump to accommodate three people in good comfort. Rear view mirrors are wide enough and all-round visibility is good too. There are enough cubby holes and bottle holders to keep everything neat and tidy inside the cabin. As you lift up the heavy hatch, you find a wide boot space which can swallow a couple of suitcases but is shallow due to the spare wheel and battery placed underneath. It is equipped with heads up display, keyless entry with push button start system, ABS, BA, EBD, VSC, TCS and seven airbags.
Performance – Powering the Toyota Prius is a 4-cylinder, 1.8-litre petrol unit, married to a 60 kW (81 BHP) electric motor. It produces 134 BHP of peak power at 5200 RPM and 142 Nm of peak torque at 4000 RPM. Push the button to start the vehicle and nothing happens literally, apart from the electronics waking up and the display welcoming you. A gentle dab on the throttle gets the Toyota Prius moving with utter silence initially, as the vehicle runs on electric power at standstill and slow speeds. With gentle throttle input, it manages to reach 55 km/hr solely on electric power, post which, the petrol engine kicks in seamlessly. To gain momentum quickly from the beginning, you have to bury your right foot and the engine comes to action much early. It is impressive the way the petrol motor wakes up in motion and you won’t be able to notice until you observe the sound keenly.
The engine of the Toyota Prius has decent grunt for city driving as well as long runs with adequate pushing power. There are three modes to choose from – EV, ECO and PWR mode. In EV mode, the car runs only on electric power, which means limited speed, slow acceleration and rapid depletion of battery charge. In order to engage this mode, the batteries need to be fully charged. The ECO mode executes a balanced delivery of petrol and electric power, which is on the slower side but is well suited for city traffic conditions. The PWR mode provides with all the power available on tap and runs on the petrol engine most of the time. The acceleration gets quicker and the Prius collects speed with relatively less throttle input.
Coupled with this motor is a CVT transmission that provides continual power delivery. Because it is a CVT, there is no lag in gear change and there is constant power delivery but it feels typically rubbery, which is annoying when pushed hard and is quite audible. The hybrid system works efficiently in the Prius. When decelerating or braking, the battery gets charged and the engine cuts off, even while coasting there is no indulgence of the petrol motor, hence you get high fuel efficiency, which the company claims to be 25 km/l but we got 20 km/l on our test drive, very impressive indeed.
Driving Dynamics – The Toyota Prius is not a car you would like to throw around corners as the suspension is softly sprung for good ride comfort. The vehicle turns in to corners quickly but there is a bit of body roll that restricts you to push the Prius enthusiastically. The steering feedback is satisfactory, it is light at parking speeds and firms up when you go fast but still remains on the lighter side. It is effective off centre but on sharp corners you need to provide more input at high speeds.
The ride quality of the Toyota Prius is at par with a marshmallow, which means it soaks up the undulations and bumps orderly. The suspension only gets unsettled when you hit a sharp section of bad roads. High speed stability is good and lane changing is not a problem on the highways, it maintains its line because of the well engineered aerodynamics with a drag coefficient of 0.25, which is amongst the lowest in the world. Braking performance is effective but the pedal feedback could be better as it doesn’t feel sure footed and is a bit spongy.
Verdict – It is commendable the way Toyota has engineered the Prius to make it a very comfortable and practical car to drive. The interior and exterior design is very eye catching as well as distinctive. The use of technology and the way it has been put to use is worth appreciating. The high price tag just does not justify what this car has to offer and hence only those who wish to own something unique as well as people who would like to do their bit for the environment would go ahead and buy the Prius, hence the poor sales of this car in India. Earlier Honda came up with the Civic hybrid but eventually had to pull off the plug because of similar reasons. Toyota is planning to locally assemble the Prius in India, which will make it a compelling proposition for environment lovers.
The Toyota Prius may not be a very exciting or engaging car to drive but it has good grunt. The ride quality is phenomenal and the Prius is very convenient to drive too.
* Ride Quality
* Cabin Space
* Futuristic Design
* Hybrid Technology
What’s Not So Cool
* CBU Pricing
* CVT Transmission
2013 Toyota Prius Specifications
* Engine: 1798cc, 4-cylinder With 60 kW Electric Motor
* Power: 134 HP @ 5200 RPM
* Torque: 142 Nm @ 4000 RPM
* Transmission: CVT Automatic
* Fuel Consumption: 20 km/l (City), 25 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol and Electricity
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 195/65/15
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc (Rear)
* Safety: ABS, BA, EBD, VSC, Traction Control, 7 airbags
2013 Toyota Prius Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4480 mm X 1745 mm X 1525 mm
* Wheelbase: 2700 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1525/1520 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.20-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 45-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1415 kgs