One of the most popular hybrids globally, has just arrived in India in an all-new avatar. The fourth generation Toyota Prius Hybrid has been launched in the country priced at Rs 38.96 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the single Z8 variant. The new generation model was launched internationally last year and was also showcased by the Japanese carmaker at the 2016 Auto Expo in India. The car is on display at Toyota dealerships across the country, while bookings have also commenced for the fully imported model. The fourth generation Toyota Prius Hybrid comes equipped with LED headlamps, LED foglamps, cruise control, JBL speakers, head up display, wireless charging, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, multi-function steering wheel and Smart Entry system for the driver and passenger with push start button.With respect to safety, the new Toyota Prius Hybrid comes loaded with 7 airbags, seatbelt warning system for front and rear occupants; ABS, Brake Assist, EBD, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control.
We enjoyed the Prius’s unique and classy design, and we’re sure that it would have great appeal for the younger generation. It takes a low and streamlined stance, and when you can have a glimpse of some fine design elements here and there, you feel a more wholesome image put together. The skin texture is flawless and attractive, and the soothing curvatures add delight to the visual field. Starting off at the front, the thin grille strapped over the face makes for some delicate touches. The emblem of the company is posted at the centre, making for a more distinguished air. The sharp headlamps flow into the side profile, and we thought this added some a grittier look to the vehicle.
When you take a look at the intricate detailing of the headlamps, you’re sure to appreciate the company’s bold design and strong safety elements.At the bottom of the front skirt, the large air dam harmonises the front look, adding to the sporty demeanour. The fog lamps rest by the corner of the skirts, and we thought they integrated into the image perfectly. One has to admire the manner in which the bonnet slides down gently from the windscreen, giving the vehicle’s image a more aesthetic flavour that we’re sure most people would love.The skin of the hood wraps sideways over the wheel arches, adding a more masculine feel to the area. The well designed wheels project a mix of sportiness and plush, and we thought they were a great element of the side body.
The serene lines that glide over the door-sides bring a more enriched effect to the look. Meanwhile, the body coloured door handles and mirrors blend into the picture well, bringing forward the refined fabric of the design.When you stand before the vehicle, you’re sure to feel a mark of perfection in the balanced, slender shape. The roof-line takes off from the bulkier region of the rear, flowing over the cabin gently, before slotting right into the bonnet with utmost precision.The black effect of the window frames looked great in our opinion, adding some diversity to the image. At the rear, the tail-lamps streak upwards by the corners of the rear, and a large black garnish that spreads over the region invites some true glamour into the vehicle.
The distinct design theory continues on the interiors too. The unorthodox dashboard layout of the Toyota Prius is highly inviting and as soon as you enter the cabin you get a good sense of space and roominess because of the big panoramic sunroof and heavy dosage of light colour tones. The dashboard gets a two tone finish which houses a wide panel information display on the top which tells you live functioning of the hybrid system, distance to empty, digital speedometer and similar vehicle related details. In the centre you find a thin set of air vents that are unusually sized but are impressively capable of cooling the cabin within no time.
There is a dual glove box with good storage space. The steering wheel is convenient to use with all the necessary controls stacked neatly. The centre console is stretched back till the front armrest and has a hollow storage space underneath. The console comes with a host of buttons and a touch screen display featuring JBL audio system with good quality sound. In the middle, it houses a funky little gear joystick that is effortless to use. Overall, the build quality is not what you would expect out of a Rs. 30 lakh plus car. It also rattles a bit when you hit a sharp section of the road.
All the seats are supportive and at the rear it offers oodles of legroom and headroom. The Toyota Prius is wide enough at the rear without any floor hump to accommodate three people in good comfort. Rear view mirrors are wide enough and all-round visibility is good too. There are enough cubby holes and bottle holders to keep everything neat and tidy inside the cabin. As you lift up the heavy hatch, you find a wide boot space which can swallow a couple of suitcases but is shallow due to the spare wheel and battery placed underneath. It is equipped with heads up display, keyless entry with push button start system, ABS, BA, EBD, VSC, TCS and seven airbags.
Like the outgoing model, the fourth-generation also uses a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine, but Toyota has made numerous upgrades to increase efficiency. It now features a new exhaust gas recirculation system, an active grille shutter, new intake ports, and reduced friction on the rotating assembly and pistons. Toyota claims that all these updates contribute to an increase in thermal efficiency from 38.5 percent to 40 percent — the highest in the industry.The four-banger is paired to a new electric motor and a battery pack that different depending on model trim. The Prius Eco comes with a Ni-MH unit with a higher energy density than before, while the other versions use a new lithium-ion battery that saves around 30 pounds.
“Moving over to fuel economy, Toyota kept its promise to further enhance the previous model’s efficiency by 10 percent” So how powerful is the new hybrid? The four-cylinder engine generates 95 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. That’s a mild three-horsepower decrease from the outgoing model, while torque remained unchanged. Moving over to the electric motor, output was downsized from 80 to 71 horsepower and from 153 to 120 pound-feet. Total system output is rated at 121 horsepower now, a decrease from the 134-horsepower rating of the outgoing model. But while power and torque are both down, performance remains similar thanks to a lower curb weight, improved low-end torque, and more efficient power-control electronics. In case you’re looking to take the Prius on a highway drive, you should know that top speed is again limited at 112 mph.
Moving over to fuel economy, Toyota kept its promise to further enhance the previous model’s efficiency by 10 percent. Specifically, the fourth-generation hybrid delivers 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway, and 56 mpg combined in Eco trim level and up to 54 mpg city, 50 mpg highway, and 52 mpg combined in non-Eco grades. Some drivers have already reportedly higher numbers — some going into the 70-mpg mark — but it all depends on the environment and how you drive the car. Still, up to 58 mpg is darn impressive anyway.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
It feels like a regular automatic car to drive sans the engine noise at low speeds. In the city, it’s easy to manage despite its size you do worry about the length initially but get used to it fairly quickly. The sporadic whirring noises from the electric motor and the futuristic looking instrument cluster in front of you are the only reminders that the Prius is in fact not a normal car. The ride is pliant despite the suspension being stiffer than before. The rear gets a new independent double wishbone setup which compared to the clunky torsion beam of the older car is a massive improvement. Plus the heavy battery pack has now been moved out of the boot which further helps the stability of the car. It isn’t Camry-comfortable and the thinner tyres do tend to crash into larger potholes, but by and large it is pretty well equipped to handle our roads. Despite initial concerns, the ground clearance proved to be adequate as well.
And to be fair and rather blunt, driving dynamics aren’t the Prius’ strong point. But it is far from being a tarmac scorcher. If you push it hard into corners, it tends to roll and the front end, thanks to its low rolling resistance tyres, constantly seem to struggle for grip. There is a fair amount of road noise in the cabin as well. The steering, though extremely light in the city and well weighed at speed, is completely devoid of feedback. The regenerative brakes can get the car from 100kmph to a dead stop in just 44.6m but are feel quite mushy at first. And it’s not that the Prius is a slouch — it posted a 0-100kmph time of 11.49s, which is far from slow, and it can easily breach the 160kmph mark in about a kilometre. But it offers the best experience if driven gently. Keep a light foot on the throttle or engage the cruise control, be easy on the brakes and steering inputs and the Prius proves to be comfortable enough to spend an entire day behind the wheel.
We were quite satisfied with the safety parameters enforced by the company. Advanced techno aids cement control, and this includes conventional facilities including Anti lock braking system and the Electronic brake-force distribution system. The two of these together help to regulate control when driving, and this eases the ride while at the same time, boosting safety. Next, there is vehicle stability and traction control systems as well, helping to insulate the vehicle from anomalies. A strong airbag system shields all of the occupants, and this includes dual front airbags, side airbags, curtain and knee airbags as well. Further strengthening this is a supplement restraint system, which ascertains a higher level of safety. The body has been given a well toned structure, with crumple zones at the front and rear that minimise damage during a mishap.
It is commendable the way Toyota has engineered the Prius to make it a very comfortable and practical car to drive. The interior and exterior design is very eye catching as well as distinctive. The use of technology and the way it has been put to use is worth appreciating. The high price tag just does not justify what this car has to offer and hence only those who wish to own something unique as well as people who would like to do their bit for the environment would go ahead and buy the Prius, hence the poor sales of this car in India. Earlier Honda came up with the Civic hybrid but eventually had to pull off the plug because of similar reasons. Toyota is planning to locally assemble the Prius in India, which will make it a compelling proposition for environment lovers.