The Prius has revolutionised the way people think about hybrids. The Prius c is the latest in the expansion of Toyota’s hybrid range, with the regular Prius leading the charge with the 7-seat Prius V, in addition to the cheapest hybrid car on the market in Australia.
We took the eco-hatch out to see if Australia’s cheapest hybrid is value for money.
First thing you notice is how diminutive the Prius c is, sitting in size somewhere between a Yaris and a Corolla. Given the c stands for ‘city’, it makes sense that the little hatch has been designed for crowded roads, which needs a nimble small car that doesn’t chew through fuel.
Sitting in the cabin will prove that space has been maximised; the driver sits lower and squarer facing the road, which takes some adjustment if you’re used to sitting in higher riding vehicles. Interior trim is reliably Toyota – finished in soft touch plastics and of a high standard, especially in a sub-$25,000 hybrid car¬.
When you go to start the car (with the push-button start), you can be forgiven for thinking that your car is dead. Because the Prius c starts using its electric motor, there is no traditional ignition sound of the car firing up. Keep an eye on the digital display, which will tell you if your car’s on or not.
Speaking of, your speedometer and fuel are all placed in the digital display in the centre of the dash, which may take some adjustment if you’re used to having your gauges in front of you. If you’ve driven a regular Prius, a Yaris or even a Toyota Echo, you will have driven with your speedometer in the middle of your windscreen, and it’s not that hard to keep an eye on your speed – instead of looking down, you just quickly glance just below your windscreen, which will allow you to get your eyes back on the road sooner.
On the road, handling leans more on comfort, but thanks to its low profile and aerodynamic design (to cut down on fuel usage even more), it will play sports car if pushed. The CVT auto is sure-footed and won’t hunt around for a gear like some other CVTs in the class, and it’ll find the right gear for the job whether it’s climbing a hill or overtaking on the highway.
Power can be delivered in three ‘modes’. Under normal driving conditions, the Prius c will use both engines. In ‘Eco’ mode, the car will take over controls to manage fuel usage; limiting the output of the petrol engine, and controlling the air conditioner to keep fuel economy down. In ‘EV’ mode, the Prius c can run just using the electric motor for up to 2kms – that means zero emissions and zero fuel use.
The digital display will measure how much power is being delivered from either engine, replacing your RPM gauge. This helps to see your performance on the road and see how reliant you are on the petrol motor.Safety is taken care of with seven airbags, reversing camera, and force-limiting seatbelts for the driver with 3-point ELR seatbelts on all seats. These are complemented by anti-lock brakes, electronic braking assistance, stability and traction control and hill-start assistance as standard.
For those looking to downsize and don’t need the bigger Prius, the city car version is a great for those looking to keep fuel bills down but don’t want to be limited to budget hatches.
Seating capacity is good, the rear floor is also flat (with no transmission tunnel intrusion) meaning the middle seat doesn’t have to be restricted to the shortest passenger.Unlike the Camry Hybrid, which has its hybrid system cutting into the boot – the Prius C has stored the batteries under the rear seat, which gives 260L of usable boot space with the seats up. This includes a full size spare tyre as well, so you won’t be left stranded in case of a flat.
Fuel consumption is, obviously, fantastic. Toyota claims 3.9L/100km on a combined cycle of city and highway driving. We were actually able to beat that, clocking in at 3.7L/100km on the road. This makes the 36L fuel tank seem enormous, and while the little green hatch can take e10, we’d probably recommend a higher-grade fuel (95RON or 98RON) for the benefits it brings to the engine – especially as you’ll no doubt be filling up less often.
In addition to the features packed entry-level models, the i-Tech adds alloy wheels, SUNA satellite navigation, auto levelling LED headlamps, privacy glass and a premium interior trim.
Servicing is capped under Toyota Service Advantage capped price servicing scheme at $140 per service for the first 3 years of ownership. Servicing schedules for the Prius c calls for a check-up every 6 months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first. The Hybrid battery is covered by its own warranty from Toyota that covers it for 8 years or 160,000km.
All figures exclude on road costs. Speak to the team at Motorama Toyota for a drive away price.
Motorama Toyota has drive away deals on Toyota’s entire hybrid range from the city-friendly Prius c, the tried and true Prius and the Prius V family wagon; so come in to see what the power of two motors can do.