Toyota Prius c First Drive
It’s the cheapest Toyota hybrid and the best to drive, and that makes the Toyota Prius c the first Toyota hybrid you’d actually want to buy. Green really is good, says Isaac Bober.
When Toyota revealed its Prius Hybrid to the world back in 1997, yes, 1997 it instantly won over those concerned about melting polar ice caps and Hollywood A-listers. Indeed plenty of celebrities chose the Prius Hybrid as their chariot of choice to roll up to the Oscars in … money can’t buy that sort of publicity.
And, from then onwards, the Prius Hybrid has started making money for Toyota, something it didn’t do in its first iteration. But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for this pioneer. TopGear’s Jeremy Clarkson famously pitted the Prius Hybrid against an M3 on a racetrack and, yes, the Prius used more fuel. Then he pointed out where all of the precious metals for the battery, etc came from.
The climate deniers loved it. Fast forward to now, though, and the Prius Hybrid and just about every other model in the Toyota range (bar the large 4WDs) has been hybridised. The Prius Hybrid as the Daddy is now the green car de jour.
And that brings me neatly to the car you’re looking at right now, the Prius c. It’s not only the most affordable hybrid in the Toyota range but also the most affordable hybrid full stop (from $23,990+ORC). It’s also the most fuel-efficient car based on ADR figures for city driving (3.7L/100km). In our week of testing (800km) we managed to return a super impressive 3.4L/100km.
Under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which, in conjunction with an electric motor provides a maximum output of 74kW. But it’s the technical detail that reveals the Prius c is more than just a cheaper Prius. It’s lighter, by 285kg, and the battery pack and fuel tank are located under the rear seat, allowing for a proper boot and the provision of a full-size spare tyre.
Standard features include smart (keyless) entry and start, automatic air-conditioning, 6.1-inch touch-screen display audio, CD player, Bluetooth audio streaming and phone connectivity, USB port with iPod connectivity, a 3.5-inch colour thin-film transistor multi-information display, 15-inch wheels with a full-size spare, cruise control, fog-lights, power windows and mirrors, and 60/40 split-fold rear seat.
In terms of safety, the Prius c comes standard with seven airbags, reversing camera, vehicle stability and traction control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, and hill-start assist. While it’s still unrated with ANCAP, the rest of the Prius range carries a five-star rating.
For an extra $3000, the Prius c i-Tech ($26,990+ORC) offers satellite navigation with live traffic updates, alloy wheels, self-levelling LED headlamps with washers, power retractable exterior mirrors, and a larger rear spoiler.
Thanks to its low centre of gravity, courtesy of the low-mounted battery pack, the Prius c is actually a lot of fun to drive, with stable, sure-footed but nimble handling. Indeed, I’d go as far to suggest it’s probably the best driving Toyota this side of the 86 sports car.
While other similarly-priced cars offer interiors that feel more luxurious than the Prius c, you don’t feel short-changed. Toyota’s interior designers have chosen quality plastics with subtle highlights to give a slightly sci-fi feel to the Prius c. All of the controls are easy to use, although, if you do opt for the more expensive Prius c i-Tech then be warned, the satellite-navigation user interface is dreadful.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
In the end, the Prius c feels unlike any other Prius that’s gone before it. And, by that I mean that it’s actually a pleasure to drive. That it’s incredibly fuel-efficient and affordable is all just a big slather of icing on the cake.