Exclusive: Toyota Prius Hybrid Road Test Review


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Our country is still not in that era where you can find Hybrids and Electric vehicles roaming around, but then, that day is now not far either. With entrance of first Hybrid in India namely, Honda Civic Hybrid, other manufacturers are in a launching spree of Hybrid models, and an apt example for this is Toyota Prius (Pronounced as Pree-us). Now that we have got this special car in our hands, The Automotive India tells you in detail how far can Prius live up to the buyer’s expectation, and does it proves to be worth throwing the money which can rather get you a BMW or Mercedes? Let’s read on.
 
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Looks and Design.

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Toyota Prius needs no such introduction, but for those who may not be aware, this is the world’s most selling as well as popular Hybrid car, and is finally available in India too. Now to begin with, what would you prefer calling this one, a hatchback or a sedan? Or a notchback instead? Well, the Prius actually is typically a cross-over model with a way too futuristic looks and design, complimented with an aero-dynamical shape. The side profile, just like any other up market car, is long and sleek. And yes, being an absolute green family car, it has total of four doors too. Decent set of alloy wheels are yet another much admirable factor, but limited ground clearance of 135 MM is so-so.

Front looks of Prius are something worth drooling more and more, and obviously better than that of former version. New looks features refreshed headlamps, which have a somewhat resemblance with Nissan 370Z. The neat bumper integrates vertically opposed indicators and fog lamps together, and a closer look on front grille will let you know that Toyota has an innovation for everything, the large Toyota monogram is slightly different than what we usually see on Altis and Fortuner, thanks to the blue’ish tinge which helps adding the sci-fi appearance, and above the bonnet are not any lines, but a light bulge which generates along with Toyota logo itself.

The rear-end of Toyota Prius a new side altogether, Its due to cross-over design which makes it easily distinguish from many other cars on road. First of all is that large rear windshield which originates from roof and ends only after covering the full boot. The triangular LED tail lamps are beautifully crafted, and are not as ordinary as they look to be, these are energy saving lamps, and radiantly use the less power from source. This combination of high-rise boot and LED lamps gives an extra-ordinary visual appeal during night to Prius. Also note the High Synergy Drive badges all around the car, this is something which will be covered in more depth after wards.

Now returning back to rear-end, if you believe that Electric or Hybrid cars can not have much of boot space, then it is untrue. The Prius’ rear boot deck provides an excellent amount of clean flat surface which should be sufficient enough to easily pack your at least three full sized Golf bags inside.

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Thread Starter #3
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Interiors and Comfort.

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Going by the exteriors, you may assume Toyota Prius to be a cramped car due to its apparent structural design, but story is completely different and once you enter in, its interiors sure promise to leave you mesmerized with that sophistication and ergonomics. Locking or Unlocking the doors of the car does not require the use of keys, and ingress as well as egress is also quite easy. The space has been utilized to the maximum and you can’t even spot a single illogical thing inside Prius. The seats adjust manually to prevent unnecessary battery power consumption, but the massive view one attains from driver’s seats is commendable.

The Z4 variant of Prius which we Road Tested comes with an Aqua shade (Beige light gray and dark gray Combo), and interiors stands class apart when it comes to build and plastic quality. Strictly no use of cheap / light plastics anywhere throughout the car. Steering is really light to hold, and feels like gliding when driven, also, steering mounted controls include Audio, Bluetooth Call handling, Display info, Trip Info etc. It also has the additional cruise control to stay relaxed. Outside rear view mirrors are however, electrically adjustable and provide a great view of oncoming traffic, but they are not electrically retractable, also, all four windows can be rolled down at a touch of button, but can’t be rolled up, yet another electric consumption move, eh?

The dashboard is crafted like of a space shuttle and provides all the required information ranging from speed, gears, vehicle drive monitoring system, Fuel indicator, Drive modes, last 5 minutes fuel consumption, energy monitoring & lot more. Push start system is also present for the convenient drive. No more hassle of using keys. Dual DIN Music system is placed at a generous space and you find lot of buttons around the center dash. Quality of Music system is great made by Japanese Fujitsu, the eight speaker system thumps up superb bass and it’s up to the taste of an avid music listener. Climate control system is Automatic, and really effective. There are also the drive controls for three modes PWR, ECO & EV. Even for parking brakes, there’s a button. Prius’ gear knob is absolutely delight to use but placed higher for an extreme driving pleasure.

The glove box compartment is dual split, which is very deep and can easily swallow almost anything you wish. There’s an abundant space just below the center console (Gear knob), and you can even place a WAIO & PDA's there. Door bottle holders are bigger, but can take up only Bailey/ Himalaya water bottles because of rectangular place holders. Right at the top of the roof, we get a sun-glass compartment too. Front arm rests are very big with multiple compartments inside, including cup holders, Mobile charger etc. On the rear seats, although the entry or exit is comfortable for people of all heights, but legroom is just mediocre, still you won’t have to complain much about shoulder-room and head room. Rear center armrest offers a couple of cup-holders, and carry bag holders on roof is a good touch.

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Thread Starter #4
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Engine and Gearbox.

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All thanks to rising pollution levels which are forcing Government and manufacturers to quickly move towards stricter norms and new stages of emission control. But with Toyota, their “quality revolution” stays apart from crowd with the masterpiece known as Prius Hybrid. However, not everyone is familiar how exactly a Hybrid car works? Now let’s get into the technical depth.

Firstly, Toyota Prius boasts a superb 1.8 Liter 2ZR-FXE engine, It empowers various technologies like Atkinson Cycle, cooled exhaust gas recirculation system, electric water pump and intake-side VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing - intelligence) to enhance Fuel efficiency. The transmission, unlike normal cars, there’s a different technology involved in Prius, which includes:


  • Motor: This light weight motor produces voltage of 650V & output of 60kW.

  • Reduction Gear: It helps increasing the torque of motor and provides seamless acceleration.

  • Generator: This acts as source for Motor which provides electricity.

  • Power Split Device: Since Hybrid, PSD is the heart of Prius. It decides the output from various sources like Engine, Motor & Generator. PSD also acts as electrically controlled continuously variable transmission system.

  • Power Control Unit: It optimizes the use of DC current from battery, and AC current for driving generator as well as motor.

  • Ni-MH Battery: Nickel Metal Hydride Battery is very compact and light weight, which also produces high output to the motors and generator.

The 1.8 liter gasoline engine alone has an output of 98 BHP, and Motor produces additional 36 BHP, which provides total of 134BHP Power @ 5200RPM as a hybrid system, whereas Torque reaches to 142 Nm @ 4000 RPM. There’s a parking brake lever near the dead pedal, just push it to release and press the park. When it’s time to crank the engine, touch the Push start button and Prius starts without any jerks or vibration. You absolutely won’t feel it as an electric car. Just flick your finger toward "D" mode and the electronic gear lever returns back to home position. Tap the gas pedal and you are all set to roll out for the greenest drive in the world.

Prius gives 3 options of driving. Power [PWR], Economy/Normal [ECO] and Electric Vehicle [EV] mode. The PWR mode just brings you the sprinter within yourself and can surprise you in an outrun, where EV mode can be used for shorter or bumper to bumper traffic and ECO mode is an auto mode where the intelligent system decides itself whether to drive on EV or PWR base on your driving style and inputs, sounds amazing, no?

In EV mode you can touch max speed of 43 KmPH after which system automatically cuts off the EV mode and transfers itself to ECO mode. We pushed Prius to PWR mode and pressed the gas pedal, and were quite surprised to see the Speedo reading 140+ KmPH without a hassle. Reaching 0 to 100kmph can be done in 10+ seconds. Since Prius has electronically controlled CVT, you don’t have 2, L, 3 gears which you find in regular auto gearbox.

Hybrid system takes care of all manipulations on its own. Gearing ratios are tuned for perfect inter city drives, even pushing after 140+ KmPH Prius is ready to do more with minimal noise levels inside the cabin.

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Performance and Safety.

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The CVT transmission is perfectly tuned for Indian traffic and performs flawlessly everywhere be it bumper to bumper traffic or even in speed lanes. But the initial acceleration is not something which sprinter can't accept! Being a green car, we still want to give three cheers for Prius; Handling is great around corners and gives tighter turning radius of 5.2m means that you don’t need much of extra efforts to go zip, zap, zoom.

Steering is weighed well for all speeds, it returns a positive feedback and there are no waving effects just because of excellent aerodynamics. Suspension setup handles all small potholes and patched roads without much struggle.

One exciting feature this car comes equipped with is Heads Up display. There is no instrument cluster in Prius, just look straight on the windshield and voila! The speedometer is reflected up right there!

Now, let’s get into more detail of how actually HSD [Hybrid Synergy Drive] works. Initially cranking the engine consumes the power from Motor and starts the engine. Once you press the gas pedal, based on your inputs it takes the power from either Motor or Gasoline engine. Speeds up to 40kmph come from Motor if you are light on the gas pedal, or if you wish to race, Prius selects PWR mode automatically. Even after touch 140+ KmPH, you will always feel a mature behavior.

The Braking gives a clean stop with an aid of ECB (Electronically Controlled Braking) system; Even the braking system is regenerative. Heard of Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS)? Yes, another advanced technology used in Formula One Season 2009. Generally, the energy generated out of braking is wasted in all cars, as another green initiative, Prius doesn’t lets the kinetic energy go. It is transformed to the power split device which helps you gain more power!

On a safety aspect, the Japanese giant offers a considerable list of them in this expensive car to keep you safe and secured, always, Such as Anti blockier system, Electric brake force distribution, Occupancy sensors, 7 SRS Airbags, side impact bars, to name a few.

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Fuel Efficiency and Verdict.

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Hybrid engine and better aero dynamical stance assures Prius to deliver significant fuel efficiency figures without compromising much on performance part. As a Green vehicle, Prius emits very less Co2, and instead uses lot of recyclable materials like Super Olefin Polymer and Recycling Sound Proofing Products.

Intelligent system in Prius constantly monitors your driving patterns and maximizes the use of motor rather than gasoline engine, at a halt, engine is completely stopped which adds to Fuel efficiency. Plus, it also has advanced and light weight materials which further enhance it. In City drive one can easily achieve 18 Kmpl and on Highways anything around 20kmpl is possible.

To sum up the long story of Prius in short, we’d say this is one-of-its kind car in India, without any competitors in its segment, the only and big drawback is massive price tag which will not even allow some potentional buyers to think about it, otherwise this definitely is a far more practical Hybrid car you can buy, now coming to the question whether you should go for it over a Mercedes or BMW in similar price range?

Actually, The real answer to this question knows only you, Yeah. The non-risk bearers and brand conscious ones would opt for a status symbol car, but those who actually want to save our mother earth, and prefer to stay distinguished from the crowd will certainly go for Toyota Prius Hybrid. Though, we still know that there will be very few who belong to latter category and as a result, Prius remains an unknown car to Indian roads. At the end, it’s our request to Government to at least consider providing this car a tax benefit in our country which will eventually lead to a greener future.

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Likes, Dislikes and Ratings.

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What We Like In Toyota Prius? [thumbsup]

  • Futuristic Looks and Design.
  • Hybrid Synergy Drive Technology
  • Regenerative Braking System
  • Practical Boot Space
  • Center LCD Console and Head Up Display

What We Dis-Like In Toyota Prius? [thumbsdown]

  • Initial Acceleration
  • Less Leg Room at Rear
  • Extremely High Price Tag
The Automotive India Star Ratings

  • Design & Quality:
    (5/5)
  • Comfort Levels:
    (4.5/5)
  • Performance:
    (4/5)
  • Ride Quality:
    (4/5)
  • Handling:
    (4.5/5)
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    (5/5)
  • Safety:
    (4/5)
  • After Sales Service:
    (4/5)
  • Value For Money:
    (3.5/5)
 
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Price and Specifications.

Price:

  • Z3: Rs.27,08,500
  • Z4: Rs.28,40,500
(Ex.Showroom, New Delhi)

Engine:

  • Max Power: 134BHP @ 5200 RPM
  • Max Torque: 142NM @ 4000 RPM
  • No. of Cylinders: 3

Transmission:

  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Suspension:

  • Front: Mc Pherson Strut
  • Rear: Torision Beam

Brakes:
  • Front: Discs
  • Rear: Discs

Wheels/Tires:
195/65 R15

Dimensions:

  • Length: 4460mm
  • Width: 1745mm
  • Height: 1510mm
  • Wheelbase: 2700
  • Ground Clearance: 135mm
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 Liters
 
Thread Starter #9
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Let Pictures Speak.

Futuristic & Aerodynamical Styling.
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Blue Inner Ring Toyota Monogram.
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Alloys to enhance further dynamics.
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Large Aerodome at rear
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The HSD - heart of Prius
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Enourmous Boot Space
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Side Profile - Doesn't it look like Honda Insight?
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Advanced Steering mount controls
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Very less rear legroom
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Cup holders feels too basic
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Sunglass holder on roof line
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Wider ORVM turn indicators
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Aero lines on roof for enhanced dynamics & stability
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Head Up display
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Road Test Credits

  • Road Test & Photography: Zinam
  • Text & Format: 350Z
(C) The Automotive India. All rights reserved. Our content such as reviews, images etc. can not be reproduced in any form without written permission of our authority.
 
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Thread Starter #14
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Since CBU, Prius attracts 105% import duty!

Government has to do something to make our environment better.
 

Akash

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Great Review Zinam. I completely agree with you. Govt should take some steps to lower the duties on Hybrid cars.
 
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