Toyota Prius Prime Review New Zealand
It seemed to me, that when the Toyota Prius was launched hit the streets around twenty, yes twenty years ago, it instantly became the darling Hollywood. Justifiably I guess, almost every star was seen in one (or at least owned one) to underline their commitment to making the world a better place (and possibly) to appease their guilty conscience, either way, it allowed them to sleep better in their glitzy and oversized cots (yes I am jealous).
Now, four generations later and in this case, the new second-generation plug-in Hybrid Prius Prime, the stars seemed to be shining brightly for this fuel-efficient automotive benchmark.
The Prius Prime was launched in 2012 and hasn’t really looked back since. It’s picked up many awards along the way and been heralded World Green Car in 2017 (the greeny car equivalent of an Oscar I assume). With the latest rendition, Toyota has really upped the ante
From a design point of view, the adoration of Prius Prime’s appearance will continue to be subjective. Some find it way too out there, others not far enough, but evidently, on the whole, it’s just right (judging by its popularity). However, aerodynamics has been the focus of its new ‘edgier’ look, quite literally, every side has been under the microscope (or wind tunnel) and virtually every angle has a purpose. Up front, an automatic grille shutter lowers resistance and shortens engine warm-up time, the underbody is covered smooth for swift airflow underneath, while there’s a ‘double bubble’ rear windscreen and aero stabiliser fins on the Carbon Fibre reinforced plastic tailgate. This all adds up to the Prius Prime slipping through the air with a drag coefficient of 0.25 – that’s better than a baseball (0.3).
The cabin has been given a spruce up, with a 7” infotainment screen and dual 4.2” instrument screens that deliver screeds of information. The rear passengers have been handed an extra lick of luxury with a central divider to hold latte’s and rest weary arms.
Then comes the really big innovations. The Prius Prime has a battery warming system that gets the 8.8kWh (double the previous one) lithium-ion nice and toasty and up to the optimum working temperature meaning that it can be charged in around four hours from a household socket and type-2 cable. Then there’s the dual motor EV drive system, which through a raft of clever (and dull) technologies, increases the EV power offering better speed and acceleration while reducing engine start-up, equalling better overall efficiency. It also features a world-first gas injection heat pump AC. Essentially an Air Conditioning system that efficiently warms the cabin using heat absorbed by the outside air, so, like the batteries, you can be toasty too.
As the Prius Prime sits on Toyota’s new TNGA (aka better chassis) platform, it now comes with all the driver and safety systems befitting such a forward-thinking vehicle. I won’t list them all here (neither of us has the time) but suffice to say your usefulness behind the wheel is getting less and less, it will even assist with your poor excuse that you call parking.
What all the above leads to is a more advanced, more connected, more aerodynamic and more fuel-efficient vehicle. On battery alone, the Prius Prime will travel up to 63km and boasts a weighted fuel consumption number of 1L/100km and that’s impressive. However, being a hybrid, you don’t have to fixate on the battery life gauge, just congratulate yourself on the ‘eco score’ when you arrive at your destination – it rates you on things like acceleration and braking.
During my review time with the Prius Prime, I snuck in a couple of longer runs and emptied all the charge from the batteries. There is a noticeable change in the vehicle’s response when it shifts over fuel and funnily enough the, EV power was my preference, but even when free of electricity and intentionally driving ‘anti-eco’, the worst I could get the Prius Prime’s efficiency down to was 3.1L/100km!
The Prius Prime really is a star in the Toyota range. They themselves are calling this a ‘$150 a year car’, quoting Energywise’s estimate as to the Prius Prime’s annual running costs, and when you combine this with 22g/km CO2 plus an 8 year/160,000 hybrid battery warranty you can see why. I’m not sure if the Prius is still in vogue with the Hollywood elite but with its increased tech and ultra-low fuel usage, the Prius Prime certainly remains a bit of a darling.
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