At the time of writing this Toyota had just announced that the start of 2016 would see the introduction of a new Toyota Prius. So for the moment we are looking at the last model which first came to market in 2009. Toyota were among the early adapters when it came to hybrid technology and for a long time themselves and Honda held great control on this segment. Both companies continue to provide excellent technologies and there are few hybrid vehicles that would be as well-known as the Prius.
The Prius runs silently when it’s in electric mode. It charges the battery with regenerative energy from braking etc. and according to Toyota it can operate for up to 2 km in EV mode at a speed of 45 km/h. This doesn’t seem like much on paper, but if it’s constantly recharging on EV mode then this could prove very handy for city traffic. The petrol engine that does the majority of the driving is 1.8 litres in size and it has a maximum power output of 130 bhp. When driving both the petrol and batteries work together between regenerated charging and driving.
The Prius is not famed for its amazing ride and handling capabilities. However, what we consider to be harsh may go unnoticed to some drivers. The steering of the Prius is uninspiring and it doesn’t offer any major amount of feedback. The suspension makes for a lot of bumps over uneven surfaces too. Our hope is that the handling within the 2016 will be much improved.
Driving in EV mode is extremely refined and it might explain the smiles on faces that Toyota keep talking about in their ads. The petrol engine is hushed too and there’s no question about it, the engine is refined. The cabin does let in outside noises though and wind and road noise can be heard while accelerating and cruising at higher speeds.
The interior of the Prius is different from most cars that you will sit in. It’s a very open area and this spacious feeling is brought on by the massive windshield in the vehicle. There is a large display area running along the top of the dash board which would not be that dissimilar to the dash of the old Nissan Primera. The infotainment system is simple and easy to use too. The interior is very futuristic-looking and while there are plenty of plastics, the area is nice enough.
In 2009 the Prius received a full five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. Its best scores were achieved for adult occupancy and child occupancy with the Prius scoring 88% and 82% respectively. There is a rake of airbags surrounding the interior of the vehicle. The car also comes with stability control as standard.
As already mentioned, the interior of the Prius feels extremely spacious, and if it’s more space that you want there is a Prius+ available that has seven seats. In the normal Prius head and leg room throws up no major problems. The interior could fit five people without any hassle and this is another one of the reasons as to why the Prius is a common enough taxi vehicle – another obvious reason is fuel economy.