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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor


Toyota Prius the pioneer for new Corolla and RAV4 Hybrids

This niche vehicle paved the way for hybrid technology all of 24 years ago.


The say time flies when you are having fun, or in the case of Toyota speak, time flies when you are being electrified. Just a month ago I was telling you that I would be bringing you this update of what it is like living with the world's original, but very niche, hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius. Although this powertrain technology debuted way back in 1997, with said Prius, not much has made its way here in terms of hybrids expect for a very brief stint in Yaris. ALSO READ: Toyota Prius: Original gangster of hybrid technology Fast forward 20…

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The say time flies when you are having fun, or in the case of Toyota speak, time flies when you are being electrified. Just a month ago I was telling you that I would be bringing you this update of what it is like living with the world’s original, but very niche, hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius.

Although this powertrain technology debuted way back in 1997, with said Prius, not much has made its way here in terms of hybrids expect for a very brief stint in Yaris.

ALSO READ: Toyota Prius: Original gangster of hybrid technology

Fast forward 20 plus years and 30 days in our case, and now you can walk into a Toyota dealership and get yourself a Corolla and RAV4 Hybrid, two of brand’s mainstream, high volume models. And more introductions are expected in the near future. But for this review, we will stay with our Prius.

What does a bybrid do?

So, what is hybrid? In technical terms, Hybrid is defined as a term introduced to the automotive world by Toyota to identify a dual-source powertrain combining a traditional internal combustion gasoline engine with a high-current electric motor.

What this means to you and I on the road, is that you have the tried and tested 72kW/142Nm 1.8-litre 2ZR-FXE naturally aspirated petrol engine under the bonnet of the long serving Toyota Prius.

Toyota Prius long term
Styling the most polarsing of any Prius.

The same mill does duty in the two newcomers, along with the assistance of two small electric motors that combine for an extra 53kW/163Nm of punch for a total combined output of 90 kW.

A dedicated EV-mode enables you to trundle, under 60 km/h and on light throttle, around the suburbs on full-electric power. And then during deceleration or braking, regenerative energy is captured and stored in the battery.

How fast is it?

To be clear, there is no plugging in this battery to charge it, this is all done via the petrol engine of the Prius while on the run. And the Toyota Prius can also operate solely the petrol engine, or a combination of the two – if so required. But I wouldn’t worry about the technical side of this all too much, it is controlled seamlessly by the electronics of the car.

Toyota Prius long term
Standard 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers.

The performance claims are as follows: 0 to 100 km/h in 10.6 seconds and a top speed of 180 km/h. And like I said before, these are not that important. What is more important for a commuter type car is fuel consumption and here I achieved a real-world number of 4.8 litres per 100 km.

I feel this number would have been even better if I spent more time in the suburbs on battery power and less time out on the highway on petrol power. But spin it anyway you want, this is one economical car.

Toyota Prius long term
Multi-information display showing the workings of the drivetrain.

The pleasant part of driving or owning this Toyota Prius does get somewhat spoiled when you ask the CVT to put in the hard work. I understand the scale of economies behind the choice of a CVT, but a decent torque converter automatic would be just that so much better.

Toyota Safety Sense

Toyota Prius long term
Prius interior

Moving to what was added for Prius Model Year 2021, Toyota Safety Sense has been adopted. This brings with it an array of safety aids in the form of a Pre-Crash System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic High Beam (AHB). Plus Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Trace Assist (LTA) to go with the existing ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and VSC functions.

Inside, the touchscreen infotainment system has been updated to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while also benefitting from a higher-resolution display. The MyToyota app along with Toyota Connect, that offers in-car Wi-Fi and a complimentary 15GB of data is fitted now.

Toyota Prius long term
Drivetrain in action.

As standard you also get a Head-Up Display, reverse camera, front seat heaters with electric lumbar support, wireless smartphone charging and dual-zone climate control. There is also rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Smart Entry and auto-retractable exterior mirrors are joined by LED head-and-fog lamps and daytime running LEDs.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my time with the Toyota Prius, it was the hybrid entry into the brand, but now priced at a hefty R577 800 means you can get a Corolla Hybrid and or a RAV4 Hybrid for less than this. For me, this is where the smart money will go from now on.

For more information on the Toyota Prius, click here.

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