Well guys, further to my previous thread, I now have a a 2007 Gen 2 Prius T-Spirit.
Colour is Aztec Bronze. (I’m not sure why I blanked the plate, this picture is one of the top results on Google Images, but is my car…)
I’ve had it a week tomorrow, and in that time I have done about 400 miles. Going from the basic, manual Daihatsu to this, I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. Answer is, as a commuter car I think it’s fantastic, and the Prius gets an unfairly bad reputation, be it because of the Prius driver stereotype or what, I don’t know. I’ll quickly run through the main points of what I have found so far.
It seems to be a common theory that the Prius is slow. By UK standards at least, this is not true. Keeps up easily with everything else, and the instant torque of the electric motor means it can really shift off the mark if you need it to. There’s a little bit of a sort of flat spot around 30-33MPH as the engine starts doing it’s thing over the motor if you take it too easy, but you can easily power through it. If you really hammer it, it acts like a traditional CVT and brings the revs up to 4500-4800, and if you don’t mind the noise you can hustle it along pretty well.
It’s not a sportscar, but I didn’t expect it to be. The steering has the typical Toyota lightness, but still provides reasonable feedback, and it’s nice in tight spaces or car parks and manages to make the car feel very easily manouverable. It remains well composed over rough or bumpy ground, or when pushing along a country lane, but some body roll is present. Brakes are also fantastic, with it having regenerative braking at the lower end combined with usual disc brakes, it can really stop very quickly.
There are two main things you notice, incredible smoothness, and incredible quietness. Pulling away you can do just on electric, so it’s very quiet and very smooth. Getting up to 30MPH can be done on just electric assuming the battery is charged and there are no steep hills, but even with the engine on, you can barely tell it’s there. Once you are up to speed and cruising, the engine drops to the lowest RPM possible to maintain speed, and if you are on a flat road, stops completely. For example, on the motorway near where I work there is a 50MPH limit, and it will happily sit at 50 with cruise control set, just on electric alone. Obviously, any hills and the engine is called back into action. Sound insulation is excellent, with road noise being very well dulled down and wind noise being almost none-existent. Engine noise is only heard when really pushing on. Seats are big, comfortable and supportive, with tons of space for all passengers. Ride is good, and it takes bumps very well in my opinion, and never feels unsettled.
In general, I think the Prius is a pretty excellent car. The smoothness, comfort and ease of driving in poor traffic alone makes it great for me when commuting, and makes the car lovely to drive. Sure, it’s not a typical choice of car for a petrolhead, but as anyone who knows me knows, I’m a Toyota nutter anyway, so it seemed an excellent choice. I also appreciate the gadgets, and the list of them fitted is massive. The JBL stereo sounds great, the reverse camera is very helpful, and the voice control and self-parking features are nifty extra novelties (Video of self parking to come later. ).
As I said earlier, I think some of the bad image a lot of people seem to have of the Prius is either from the stereotype of Prius drivers, or just that they are perceived as different. I don’t think they are going to save all the trees, but if it is just treat like every other mid-size car I think it is a pretty compelling alternative to a diesel of the same size. It’s low emissions mean in the UK it costs almost nothing to tax, and is exempt from things like the congestion charge. Fuel economy is also proving to be relatively good:
This was after my normal commute home, and while you could probably get the same out of a small engined diesel car of the same size, the diesel won’t be as smooth or as quiet, and petrol is quite a bit cheaper than diesel here currently. I’m sure I could also get more out of it if I tried, I haven’t tried to learn any of the special techniques yet, this is purely just me driving it normally as I would drive anything else.
There’s probably more I want to say about it that I can’t remember right now, but I think I have written an essay on it already. (And if you have read it this far, thanks, it took me ages. ) Anyone wanting a solid well built car for general use, I thoroughly recommend you try one. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can get over the potential image issues, there is a great car behind the badge.
If anyone is interested, I will update with better pictures, and how the car does with regards to longevity and reliability. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.