Toyota Prius T Spirit
World’s best-selling hybrid continues to impress
No other maker has put more effort or expense into developing hybrid technology than Toyota. In fact, thanks to its luxury arm, Lexus, the Japanese giant is represented twice in our eco test.
But perhaps more importantly, the popularity of the Prius – the most successful production hybrid vehicle in the world, with more than 750,000 sold globally – has helped to raise the profile of environmentally friendly vehicles.
It’s better looking than its Honda Civic IMA rival. With the launch of superminis such as the Polo Bluemotion, though, it can no longer claim to be the world’s cleanest passenger car.
Still, it is one of the cleverest. The technology is complex, but the theory is simple. Power comes from two sources: a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. The battery for the latter is topped up by the engine or by harnessing the energy released from braking, so it never needs to be recharged externally. A dashboard display shows you what’s doing the work.
Driving on battery power alone takes some getting used to, yet makes perfect sense in town. Up the pace, and economy suffers on A-roads – not helped by the CVT gearbox, which keeps revs high. The Toyota managed 41.5mpg with us, which lags behind most of the class’s oil-burners.
But the Prius is comfortable and composed on the move, and is a better choice than the Civic. Unlike the Lexus GS450h, the family hatchback’s luggage space isn’t hampered by large batteries, and rear passenger room is impressive. The stumbling block is the cost – even the entry model is £17,782. While it’s undoubtedly clever, buyers are paying a high price for green motoring.
Price: £20,682Model tested: Prius T Spirit
In this review
- 1IntroductionEco-friendly or merely green gimmicks? Our road test team delivers its expert verdict on the new Ford Focus ECOnetic – as well as seven other cars which profess to save not only the planet, but also your wallet...
- 2Honda Civic Hybrid ESGutless electric motor hampers the saloon
- 3Lexus GS450h 3.5 V6 SEDoes saloon deliver on promise of its technology?
- 4Toyota Prius T Spirit - currently readingWorld’s best-selling hybrid continues to impress
- 5SEAT Ibiza EcomotiveA taste of eco cars to come from the Spanish firm
- 6VW Polo BluemotionStyling and engine tweaks help Polo clean up act
- 7Mini Cooper Clubman DDesirable package adds green features to the mix.
- 8Skoda Fabia Greenline 1.4 TDiNip and tuck makes the Czech five-door even more efficient.
- 9Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi ECOneticIs hatch best-seller an even stronger proposition with eco changes?
- 10Facts and figures