Volkswagen Passat vs Toyota Prius
Can the Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion diesel take down the king of efficiency, the petrol-electric Toyota Prius?
Volkswagen’s BlueMotion line of high-efficiency vehicles has always focused on maximising economy from conventional powertrains rather than hi-tech hybrid systems, and the new model takes this to the next level. VW claims the 1.6-litre turbodiesel Passat emits 95g/km of CO2, although this is still some way behind the Prius’ 70g/km output. But while the German brand’s reputation took a hit after the Dieselgate scandal, you can’t write off this diesel car.
The BlueMotion’s impressive frugality means it shines on longer journeys, yet it should also return impressive economy figures around town. Being a hybrid, the Toyota is at its best in specific circumstances, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of its depth as a family car or a business vehicle; this new model promises better fuel economy than ever. Here, we see which type of car is more economical and makes more sense day-to-day.
Reducing drag is an effective way of improving efficiency. The VW has a closed-off grille and a bespoke bodykit, while the Prius’ intricate shape manages the airflow over the car in the cleanest path possible. Features like the rubber strip between the bonnet and bumper further reduce turbulence, with a decent drag coefficient of 0.24Cd.
Volkswagen’s diesel is noisy when revved hard, while firmer suspension means there’s some road noise at higher speeds. Toyota has worked hard on its hybrid powertrain to cut decibels, helped by double-glazed windows. However, there is lots of tyre roar on motorways.
Saloon vs hatch
The Toyota doesn’t offer as much boot space as the Passat, but its big hatch makes it easier to load than the VW saloon with its smaller opening. With the rear seats down, a big load-through area boosts the Prius’ flexibility further – a bonus in a family car.
First place: Toyota Prius
The Prius’ design won’t be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying it looks and feels a lot more distinctive than the Passat. However, the big benefit comes from its hybrid powertrain, delivering useful savings over the conventionally powered Volkswagen. The smooth ride and capable chassis mean it’s also good to drive, and now more refined than ever.
Second place: Volkswagen Passat
The Passat’s lower fuel economy and higher CO2 emissions mean it can’t compete with the Prius. It’ll be more expensive to run as a result, with higher servicing costs and greater depreciation. The VW is roomier inside and provides a bigger boot in five-seat form, but the Toyota is just as practical and a more efficient solution for day-to-day use.
Is it worth waiting for this model?
Toyota Prius Plug-In
Due: Late 2016 Price: £30k (est)Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl hybrid, 118bhp (est)
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Used car tests
|Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Active||Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI BlueMotion|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£23,295/£24,540||£23,530/£25,605|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£11,349/48.7%||£10,951/46.5%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£511/£1,023||£892/£1,784|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£981/£1,636||£1,156/£1,927|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||14/£569/A/£0||15/£564/A/£0|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£169/£219/£169||£16 per month|
|Engine||Elec motor/4cyl/1,798cc||4cyl in-line/1,598cc|
|Peak power||121^/5,200 bhp/rpm||118/3,600 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||142/3,600 Nm/rpm||250/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||43 litres/space-saver||59 litres/space-saver|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||343/1,558 litres||586/1,152 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.8 metres/0.24Cd||11.7 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||5yrs (100,000)/1yr||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||10,000 miles (1yr)/181||Variable/223|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||8th/2nd||22nd/30th|
|0-60/30-70mph||10.4/10.2 secs||10.1/9.1 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.0 secs (kickdown)||4.5/7.4 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th||6.1 secs (kickdown)||9.2/13.5 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||112mph/N/A||130mph/1,800rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||57.8/12.7/547 miles||49.3/10.8/640 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||131/70g/km/11%||154/95g/km/19%|
|Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control||Yes/yes/adaptive||No/yes/£255|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/no/no||No/no/£285*|
|Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go||£495/yes/yes||£545/£965/no|