Toyota Prius vs VW Golf GTE vs Ford Mondeo Hybrid

12 Mar, 2016 12:00pm

Toyota’s radical, more efficient new Prius meets Volkswagen and Ford hybrid rivals. Which gets our vote?

There’s no doubt that the Toyota Prius has made an impact on the new car market. Its pioneering petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain has been emulated by rivals, while Toyota has gone on to perfect the formula over the years.

Now Toyota is launching a fourth-generation Prius, complete with radical styling, a more efficient hybrid system and an all-new platform that’s designed to add even more to the driving experience.

Best hybrid cars on the market

But the new model enters a hybrid market that has changed beyond recognition since the original’s 1997 launch. We’ve lined up two rivals that will provide stiff competition.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid features petrol-electric drive and a CVT gearbox like the Prius, but its four-door saloon body is unique to the Mondeo range. The hybrid system in the Ford is more powerful than the Toyota’s, and it undercuts the top-spec Prius tested here on price as well.

The Volkswagen Golf GTE represents the rise in plug-in hybrids. While it has a higher list price, it promises to deliver a mix of wallet-friendly economy and hot hatch handling that will test the Prius’ abilities.

Head-to-head

Size

Park the Prius and Mondeo side-by-side, and the difference in size between the two is obvious. The Toyota is packaged around its hybrid drivetrain, so while it’s compact, it has a bigger boot, and feels more spacious inside.

As with the Golf, the Ford’s hybrid system takes up load space, so it’s less practical than regular petrol or diesel versions.

Driver assist

The Prius Excel and Golf GTE feature adaptive cruise, and you can add it to the Mondeo for £450. Of the three, the Golf’s system is the smoothest to use.

The Toyota and Volkswagen also have lane assist, although the Prius’ set-up is a bit slow to react, leaving you hitting road studs as the system activates.

Packaging

Unlike the new Prius, the Golf and Mondeo are compromised to fit in their drivetrains. In the Ford, you lose boot space and fuel tank capacity, while in the Volkswagen there’s no underfloor storage or space for a spare wheel.

Verdict

First place: Toyota Prius

The new Prius wins this test, but more importantly it has the all-round ability to be an outright contender in the hatchback class. Although the looks are divisive, clever packaging means the cabin is roomy, while the new platform delivers a surprisingly enjoyable drive. The hybrid powertrain demands no compromises, but the car still delivers the best fuel economy when driven around town.

Second place: Volkswagen Golf GTE

You get an intriguing mix of hybrid economy and hot hatch fun from the Golf GTE. But unless you plug it in every time it’s parked, it won’t save you as much on fuel as the Prius, and the standard GTI is more enjoyable when you’re behind the wheel. While low tax costs make it an attractive company car, to justify it as a private purchase you need the £2,500 Government discount.

Third place: Ford Mondeo Hybrid

We’ve found the regular Mondeo disappointing when compared to its family car rivals, and this Hybrid model trails as an eco warrior, too. Low emissions will be tempting for fleet users tied to the Ford range, but real-world economy isn’t very far ahead of the diesel Mondeo’s, while the compromises of the smaller boot and saloon body mean it’s not as practical.

Is it worth waiting for this model?

Kia Niro

Due: Summer
Price: £18k (est)
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 138bhp

Kia Niro 2016 review - front tracking 3

The Niro isn’t quite as efficient as the Prius, but its projected price and less flamboyant crossover styling will be attractive to many buyers. The twin-clutch automatic gearbox could boost its driver appeal over the Toyota, too.

Figures

Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT Excel Volkswagen Golf GTE Nav 5dr Ford Mondeo 2.0 Hybrid Titanium 4dr
On the road price/total as tested £27,450/£28,100 £35,760/£36,395 £26,445/£26,990
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £12,600/45.9% £15,663/43.8% £9,494/35.9%
Depreciation £14,850 £20,097 £16,951
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £712/£1,425 £357/£714 £739/£1,478
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £959/£1,598 £1,169/£1,949 £1,305/£2,174
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 14/£504/A/£0 26/£533/A/£0 27/£650/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £169/£219/£169 £288 (2yrs) £390 (2yrs)
Length/wheelbase 4,540/2,700mm 4,270/2,631mm 4,871/2,850mm
Height/width 1,470/1,760mm 1,457/1,799mm 1,482/1,911mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,798cc 4cyl in-line/1,395cc 4cyl in-line/1,997cc
Peak power/revs 97/5,200 bhp/rpm 148/5,000 bhp/rpm 184/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 142/3,600 Nm/rpm 350/1,600 Nm/rpm 173/4,000 Nm/rpm
Electric motor/combined output 53kW/121bhp 75kW/201bhp 88kW/184bhp
Transmission CVT auto/fwd 6-spd DSG/fwd CVT auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 45 litres/repair kit 40 litres/repair kit 51 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 343/1,558 litres 272/1,162 litres 383 litres/N/A
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,370/435/725kg 1,599/496/1,500kg 1,579/671kg/N/A
Turning circle 10.8 metres/0.24Cd 10.9 metres/N/A 11.5 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 5yrs (100,000)/1yr 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers 10,000 miles (1yr)/181 10,000 miles (1yr)/223 12,500 miles (1yr)/781
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 8th/2nd 22nd/30th 25th/26th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars N/A 94/89/65/5 (2012) 86/82/66/5 (2014)
0-60/30-70mph 10.5/10.4 secs 8.7/8.2 secs 8.2/7.0 secs
30-50mph in kickdown 4.1 secs 3.3 secs 2.8 secs
50-70mph in kickdown 6.3 secs 4.9 secs 4.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 112mph/N/A 138mph/2,200rpm 116mph/2,200rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 52.8/28.9/8.9m 46.5/31.0/9.4m 50.6/33.8/8.0m
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 57.7/12.7/571 miles 47.3/10.4/416 miles 42.4/9.3/494 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 85.6/85.6/85.6mpg N/A/N/A/166.0mpg 100.9/56.5/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 18.8/18.8/18.8mpl N/A/N/A/12.4mpl 22.2/12.4/14.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 113/76g/km/13% 138/39g/km/5% 154/99g/km/14%
Airbags/Isofix/park assist/camera Seven/yes/yes/yes Seven/y/£150/£165 Seven/y/£150/£250
Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise control Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/£450
Climate control/leather/heated seats Yes/yes/yes Yes/£1,750/£400 Yes/£2,000/£2,000
Metallic paint/LED headlights/keyless go £495/yes/yes £545/yes/£365 £545/£900/£250
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes