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Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle: Test Drive Review

Date: 19 July 2010   |   Author:

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £30,000 (est.)
Key rival: Vauxhall?Ampera

It's not due for mainstream sale for another couple of years, yet Toyota has begun real-world fleet trials of the plug-in hybrid Prius, the car it feels will help bridge the gap to pure electric models

The plug-in Prius can run for up to 12.5 miles and at up to 62mph before the lithium-ion battery power, which can be recharged from the mains in 90 minutes, is replaced by the regular Prius petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. That combination means 59g/km and 108.6mpg on the official test.

Setting off with a fully charged battery, the Prius Plug-In operates on purely electric power unless more than 80% throttle is required, at which point the 1.8-litre petrol engine seamlessly joins in as well to provide extra performance. It'll be a fairly rare for the engine to kick in, though, because with thoughtful and sensible driving, up to 80% throttle input is plenty to make progress in the cities where electric vehicles are going to make the most sense. The gauge on the dashboard shows what percentage of throttle the driver is employing, and it's easy to keep below 80% without feeling like you're holding back. The only penalty for the battery technology is a small reduction in the amount of boot space.

The car won't run when it's plugged in, which means there's no chance of driving off while still connected to the wall. Also, the key fob will offer buttons to heat or cool the Toyota remotely while it's plugged in, which helps preserve the battery's charge because it won't have to run the ventilation once the car is on the move. It also means the interior will be at a pleasant temperature by the time the driver gets in.

The plug-in hybrid Prius will initially be operated on a trial basis by five fleets - News International, Sky, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the Government Car and Dispatch Agency - with a total of 20 vehicles out in service ahead of a mass-market launch scheduled for 2012. From what BusinessCar has sampled, Toyota has developed a significant solution to the short-term issues that will harm the development of electric vehicles. The car drives pretty much like any other Prius, but the advantages of the ultra-low emissions and reduced running costs could mean it's a car in high demand by the time it finally arrives in showrooms.

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle
Fuel consumption108.6mpg
CO2 (tax)59g/km (5%)
Service intervals10,000 miles
BIK 20%/40% £25/£50*
EV Range12.5 miles
Engine size/power1798cc/178hp
Top speed/0-62mph112mph/13.7sec
On sale2012
VerdictImpressive technology, shame it’s won’t be available to mass market before 2012.
* estimated 


Impressive technology, shame it’s won’t be available to mass market before 2012.