NUnlike some cars which get you hooked instantly, Toyota Prius enthrall you in a very incremental manner. There is no love at first sight however there is no escaping from its magic either. Like few too many, we also have flurry of questions raging palpably as we settle behind the wheels. Whether Prius will perform up to the expectations, how smooth will be the shift between petrol engine and electric motor, what is ultimate mileage it will pass on in real world scenario etc. We get these and many more questions propping to the fore addressed in this road-test review.
How it looks outside?
First up, let's examine closely the car in flesh. Compared to its earlier iterations, new Prius feels less funky. It's still modern but lost some of the visual novelty thanks to the single minded focus of designers on aerodynamics. One look up front and you know this car will slip through the air. All the design elements, be it steeply raked windscreen, curvaceous bonnet, tightly screened sides and sharp rear contribute to the excellent drag coefficient of 0.25 which is probably the best in the world.
How it feels inside?
Inside the cabin, things are pretty radical and much of the credit goes to hi tech fact that Toyota has created. There is no conventional instrument cluster and to exaggerate the things, there is high dashboard and pinched air-events. Leather steering wheel has got soft touch controls which are very intuitive and tactile. The central attraction of the cabin however is its BMW-esque gear lever which feels wonderful to operate. Display menu is very user-friendly and toggling through experience makes it even more impressive. There is no lacking of the space in the cabin has both front and rear seats are comfortable, wide and offer enough support. Despite of the battery pack placed at the back, Prius has enough of the boot space to meet most of the requirements.
What lies beneath?
Entry inside the cabin can be done without using the key. Keep the fob in your pocket and the car starts at the push of a button. Select the option of D and you are good to go. The start is completely noiseless only the electric motor supports the operation. Until you go aggressive on the right pedal or reaches 50 kmph, the operation will remain only electric in nature. This makes Prius extremely practical in our stop-go traffic as hardly any driver can reach aforementioned speed limit to consume precious fuel.
Step on the acceleration and the petrol engine comes to the aid of electric motor. There is no separate startup of petrol engine and the shift from electric to petrol mode is seamless. Obviously, the performance now gets a big push 140 PS power coming to the rescue of 82 PS of electric motor. Car also offers three different driving modes, i.e., electric vehicle mode, manual mode and Eco mode however it is best to let the software decide which mode you should be driving in. Electric vehicle mode can be tempting although it will eat away with batteries quickly.
The ride quality of Toyota Prius is a bit firm as suspension settings seems to have prioritized handling. Still Prius is a decent car to drive and although not an entertainer, the car is still have some fun factor. The fuel efficiency is around 16 kmpl in the City and CO2 emission is less than what even the micro hatchback like Nano, Alto or Kwid produce.
Toyota Prius is priced at Rs 38.10 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) which puts this car in the league of Audi, BA and Mercedes. Undoubtedly, this car holds an emotional appeal that will find favor with many environmental enthusiasts. However for a rational mind stuck between limited income and numerous liabilities, Toyota Prius is still a far-fetched dream.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 3/5