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Toyota Prius i-Tech
The tale of two Toyotas ... After a week driving the Corolla Hybrid, jumping into the Prius i-Tech was like going from night to day.
With its newer, petrol-electric hybrid system, the latter drives markedly smoother and quieter than the Corolla, which uses previous generation Prius technology. Given that the i-Tech costs some $16,000+ more, the comparison might seem a little unfair, but it’s a relevant pointer to how much improved this fourth-generation Prius is.
With its miserly fuel economy (3.4 litres/100km) and minimal CO2 emissions (80g/km), the newcomer validates its eco-warrior credentials, but the bonus is it’s a more engaging, responsive drive than before.
The steering feels nicely weighted (not all Toyotas are), the brakes lack that woodenness of most hybrids, the ride is limo-like luxurious, and wind noise near null and void. There’s even some dynamism to the handling.
Performance-wise, the Prius gets along nicely courtesy of the self-charging hybrid system that harnesses a 72kW, 1.8-litre petrol engine, twin electric motor-generators, nickel-metal hydride battery and CVT. When called on, the Prius is quick off the mark and makes good use of its 142Nm of torque.
It’s a pretty complete driving package. The cabin looks suitably hi-tech and feels light, spacy and comfy.
Eco readouts on the dash-top touchscreen assist with optimising fuel economy.
Standard equipment includes seven airbags, electronic stability control, reversing camera with moving guidelines, pre-collision warning and braking, lane departure warning, radar cruise control, auto high beam, auto-levelling bi-LED headlights, and Toyota Link connectivity.
Further inclusions are wireless phone charging for Qi-supported devices, a head-up display, digital radio, and keyless entry and start. However, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are an omission.
Unlike the entry-level Prius (less equipped but $8000 cheaper), no spacesaver spare is provided – only a tyre inflation kit. However, that expands boot space by a useful 45 litres to 502 litres.
Toyota’s three year/100,000km warranty is not as generous as some. Service intervals are short at six month/10,000km intervals, but capped at $140 each.
This is easily the best Prius yet, but it could be better. The range on solely electric power is just one kilometre at speeds of up to 35km/h. Overseas, Toyota is selling the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, which can travel up to 35km on its lithium-ion batteries alone. Unfortunately, this game changer is not yet destined for Australian roads.
Improved smoothness and quietness, better
No spare wheel, limited electric range, bit pricey.
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This review is based on road testing conducted by The Road Ahead. Further vehicle reviews, in-depth comparisons and coverage of consumer motoring issues can be found in the Club's magazine. Prices listed were current at the time of review and are manufacturers list prices and do not include statutory and delivery charges. Prices can vary from time to time and dealer to dealer.