TOYOTA PRIUS Hatch

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					                                                                                                       National Roads and Motorists’                          No. 629
                                                  ROAD TEST REPORT                                     Association Limited
                                                                                                       ABN 77 000 010 506

                                                                                                       trading as
                                                        By Bob Hudson MIAME
   MEMBER SERVICES                                          August
                                                       Vehicle Evaluation Engineer                     NRMA Member Services              FEBRUARY 2002


TOYOTA PRIUS Hatch
Automatic Petrol/Electric Hybrid
                              FEATURES
             BEST                                WORST
 Economy of operation              Relatively high purchase price
 Well equipped                     Vague steering and handling
 Good occupant space               Performance drops off at higher
                                   speeds

  Toyota was beaten by Honda in the race to           stereo with a 6 disc CD changer, alloy wheels,
get a hybrid vehicle on to the Australian             central locking and an engine immobiliser.
                                                                                                                              TOYOTA PRIUS
market, however the enforced delay (brought             Inside the Prius’s tall body, there’s good                             SPECIFICATIONS
about by Design Rule and tax concession               space for four adults, or five at a pinch.               ENGINE:
issues) has brought benefits for buyers.              Occupants sit high for good all-round vision,            Type ............ Four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
  The Prius now on sale here for $39,990 is the       but there’s still good headroom front and rear.          Capacity in litres..................................... 1.497
latest model that is currently on sale in Japan.        The boot isn’t all that long, and there’s no fold-     Fuel recommendation.............................. ULP
  The Toyota Prius made its debut in Japan as the     down seat facility, but it’s reasonably deep and         Claimed max. power ........ 53 kW at 4500 rpm
world’s first production hybrid vehicle back in       should cope with normal luggage requirements.            Claimed max. torque ...... 115 Nm at 4200 rpm
1996 and more than 60,000 have since been sold          Driving the Prius is mostly a straightforward          Specific power output.................35.4 kW/litre
around the world. These early cars formed the         experience once you get used to the silent start-up,     ELECTRIC MOTOR:
basis for testing in Australia and were also used     the engine starting and stopping by itself at times,     Type ...........................Permanent magnet type
as evaluation vehicles by some State                  the different operating characteristics of a CVT         .......................................................... 33.0 kW
Governments and fleet operators.                      and the ‘touchy’ brake operation at low speeds.          TRANSMISSION:
  Whereas Honda’s Insight provides seating for          There’s also the fully electronic instrument           Type ....................................... CVT automatic
only a driver and one passenger, and has virtually    panel up in the centre of the dash, the                  Driving wheels ....................................... Front
no boot space, the Toyota Prius is a four/five        automatic change lever sticking out of the dash          WHEELS: ................... Alloy, 5.5JJ x 14 inch
seater with a useful luggage capacity.                and the foot-operated park brake!                        TYRES: .................. Bridgestone, 175/65 R14
  However, the Prius’s conventional body                Actually it’s not as bad as it sounds as most          Spare: ....................... Matching size and type
styling and construction (the Insight uses            of the above characteristics quickly become              STEERING:
aluminium and plastic in its body) does bring a       familiar and driving is then as easy as in any           Type .. Electric power assisted rack and pinion
mass penalty. The Prius has a kerb mass of            other conventional car.                                  Turns lock to lock....................................... 3.8
1250 kg, compared to the Insight’s 827 kg.              With the benefits of both petrol and electric          Turning circle (measured) .............. 9.7 metres
  The Prius is powered by a 1.5 litre four            power, the Prius gets away smartly on initial            DIMENSIONS:
cylinder engine (the Insight has a 1.0 litre          acceleration, however it starts to fade at higher        Mass ................................................... 1250 kg
three cylinder engine) and this operates in           speeds and overall rates as a fairly ordinary            Length .............................................. 4315 mm
tandem with a 33kW electric motor.                    performer. How well satisfied owners will be             Width (incl. mirrors 1945 mm) ........ 1695 mm
  The Prius can run on the electric motor only,       with the performance is going to largely depend          Height............................................... 1485 mm
the petrol engine, or a combination of the two.       on how and where they use their Priuses.                 Ground clearance (measured)............. 132 mm
Both the engine and the electric motor are used         For example, around town and the suburbs               Seating capacity ............................................ 5
when maximum performance is required. The             won’t be a problem, however tackling trips with a        Fuel tank capacity............................... 50 litres
petrol engine switches off (at most times) when       load on board could well be a different story.           TOWING: ....................... Not recommended
the vehicle comes to a stop and it then restarts        It’s a similar situation with handling. The            NRMA THEFT RATING:
automatically on start-off. On some occasions,        combination of a tall body, relatively narrow high       Points on 0-110 scale (high score best) .... 60.5
the engine remains running to charge the battery.     profile tyres, slow steering and comparatively           WARRANTY: .........Three years, 100,000 km
  Energy that is not required to propel the car is    mushy suspension settings doesn’t provide a              MANUFACTURED IN:........................ Japan
converted to electricity and stored in the sealed     good recipe for sharp, precise handling.
270-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack              Around town, the Prius is easy to handle,                                TEST RESULTS
located between the rear seat and the boot.           with light steering and a compact turning                ACCELERATION:
Regenerative braking allows the vehicle to            circle. Out on the open road, the handling is            50 - 80 km/h (in Drive)......................... 5.5 sec
convert kinetic energy into additional electricity.   less confident, with some lurching on sudden             60 -100 km/h (in Drive)........................ 8.5 sec
  There is no need, or provision to re-charge         changes of direction and a not so stable feel            0 - 80 km/h ......................................... 10.4 sec
the hybrid vehicle battery from an external           when you start to push it.                               0 - 100 km/h ....................................... 15.6 sec
source. Should the hybrid battery charge              SUMMARY:                                                 0 - 400 metres..................................... 20.0 sec
become low, power is automatically re-routed            The Toyota Prius offers ecologically friendly          FUEL CONSUMPTION:
to bump up the charge rate.                           hybrid technology in a vehicle that’s practical          Litres/100 km in city .................................. 5.9
  Power is transmitted to the front wheels            to live with and reasonably straightforward to           Litres/100 km on highway.......................... 5.7
through      a      computer-controlled        CVT    drive.                                                   Litres/100 km overall ................................. 5.8
(constantly variable transmission) that                 The Prius’s main drawbacks are a more                  BRAKING:
provides two-pedal automatic operation.               expensive sticker price than an equivalent size          Distance to stop from 80 km/h ......27.6 metres
  Equipment levels in the Prius are quite             conventional car, and generally lower                    NOISE:
extensive and include dual front airbags, air         standards of performance and handling.                   Interior at constant 80 km/h.............. 68 dB(A)
conditioning, anti-lock brakes with electronic          What savings there are to be gained in lower
brake force distribution, electric power steering,    operating costs will depend on what vehicle the
                                                                                                                    •   Test vehicle supplied by Toyota Motor
                                                                                                                          Corporation Australia Limited
power windows and exterior mirrors, 4-speaker         Prius replaces and annual kilometres travelled.
Call NRMA Automotive Technical Services on 1300 655 443, should you require additional information on this
vehicle, on other makes, or for general advice on automotive matters.

				
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