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The fifth generation Toyota Prius received a glow-up!

Aktualisiert: 11. Dez. 2023

The fifth generation Toyota Prius introduces unexpected innovations, opening a new chapter in its long history of innovative engineering and dynamic design. The result is a real eye-catcher. The latest Prius is only available in Europe as a Plug-in Hybrid Electric, but is called the “Prius Plug-in Hybrid” in this country. Like its illustrious predecessors, this Prius once again leaves many conventions behind.

What is it about

The fifth generation of what is probably the world's best-known hybrid vehicle has been available in Europe since late summer 2023. Thanks to the Prius, Toyota became a pioneer and pioneer of hybrid drives. Now only available in Switzerland as a plug-in hybrid, the new Prius has been filling car dealer showrooms for several months.

«Faster. Better. “Stronger.” is the advertising for the Prius. The numbers make it clear: With a 223 hp drive system that enables an electric WLTP range of up to 86 km thanks to the 13.6 kWh battery. The PHEV system consists of a 2.0 four-cylinder petrol engine with 152 hp, which is combined with a 163 hp electric motor. This enables Toyota to achieve a system output of 223 hp, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 177 km/h as stated by the manufacturer. In electric mode, the top speed is limited to a maximum of 130 km/h.

Let's leave the numbers aside for a moment. The new generation of the Prius comes in a fresh version with much more sex appeal. The car no longer completely indicates that the new Prius must be the most economical vehicle possible and therefore appears much more attractive.

First impressions

Toyota has managed to combine the Prius into a very coherent (but less aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.27) design. Who would have thought that a Prius could be one of Toyota's most beautiful models? Here in the launch spec, namely painted “Mustard Yellow” and in the premium version with painted wheel arch panels, larger 19-inch rims and a solar roof, the Prius cuts a really good figure. A quick word about the color: This originally comes from the 80s and was once included in the color portfolio for the Toyota Land Criuser FJ40. During my test drive, a colleague (car layman) asked me about the car and said that the front reminded him of a Lamborghini. Before we start laughing: After thinking about it for a moment, I understand his point of view, because the inclination of the hood and windshield, or at least the angle of inclination of the window frame, is almost identical and very wedge-shaped in silhouette. Obviously not as strong as the Italian sports car manufacturer, but this statement is not unreasonable.

The interior

The interior and its controls in the new Prius are tidy and intuitive to use. The infotainment is clearly structured with clear menu navigation. Below the screen there are physical, albeit small, buttons for the automatic climate control settings, seat heating, etc.

The space in the new Prius is strikingly disappointing. Due to the gently sloping windshield, the highest point of the vehicle is only behind the driver and front passenger seats. This means that tall people come very close to the roof of the vehicle and, for example, can no longer see traffic lights without leaning forward. However, if the driver sits a little lower in the car, it may happen that the cockpit is no longer completely visible due to the steering wheel's limited adjustment options. Attempting to view the cockpit through the steering wheel failed. The steering wheel cannot be positioned upwards enough for this purpose. We'll stick with the sitting position for a moment; but with that of the passenger. The passenger's seating position is quite high and, unlike the driver's seat, cannot be adjusted electrically. And this despite the fact that the test vehicle was configured with the highest “Premium” equipment line. Further savings measures are clearly visible in the processing. As an example, I give the plastic battle alone on the dashboard and the front door panels.

The trunk volume is a modest 265 liters, whereas a Tesla Model 3 offers 385 liters and a Hyundai i30 Fastback offers 450 liters of space with an almost identical vehicle shape and length. Only on the rear seat, which is surprisingly also heated, you can't speak of a lack of space. Thanks to the 5cm longer wheelbase, passengers in the back row of seats can benefit from sufficient legroom and headroom. In addition, the highest point of the Prius is above the rear, thus supporting the generous amount of space in the rear row of seats.

Driving impressions

When it comes to safety, Toyota is backing the safe horse. The assistance programs can no longer be deactivated. Toyota Safety Sense has been supplemented by further intelligent functions that contribute to even safer driving in the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. These include adaptive automatic high beam, lane keeping assistant with fine steering control, traffic sign assistant, a very sensitive pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control with a reliable stopping function. The assistance systems mentioned are permanently in operation and can no longer be deactivated manually by the driver.

The Prius achieves an average consumption of 4.7 liters per 100 km driving distance in normal hybrid mode, without extra charging of the battery. If you charge the battery regularly, consumption can of course be significantly reduced. In city traffic and on country roads you can drive purely electrically without any problems. The new Prius can even easily accelerate up to 120km/h on the highway without the help of the combustion engine. The electric motor has significantly more power than that of its predecessor. So the numbers don't lie. And with a charged battery, the hybrid's acceleration is remarkable. What is noticeable is that in normal driving settings the Prius maintains around 30% battery charge and therefore consumes my mentioned 4.7 liters of petrol per 100km driving distance. The new Prius can therefore be used without any problems if you do not have your own charging station at home. However, if you do not charge the battery regularly, you will have to accept a very loud engine under load. The continuously variable CVT transmission causes the engine to rev up loudly and unpleasantly. Despite the acceptable acceleration, the car sounds underpowered.

The fact that Toyota already has a lot of experience with hybrid drives becomes noticeable while driving. The combustion engine switches on barely noticeable and forms a harmoniously working duo with the electric motor. Depending on your driving style, you can use the accelerator foot to switch off the combustion engine for smooth gliding or slow deceleration. The Prius has an active recuperation system capable of recovering electrical energy by adapting the vehicle's deceleration to the characteristics of the route and the surrounding vehicles. This means you can feel how the car decelerates more or less autonomously when you release the accelerator pedal. Optionally, the power storage can also be "refreshed" using the 185 watt solar cells on the roof of the vehicle, which under ideal conditions can recharge for around 9 km per day or around 70 km of electrical range per week. Rather utopian. On a sunny day, the car was left outside for around 10 hours at an outside temperature of around 10-15°C. The battery charge level in the evening was identical to that in the morning.

In summary, the new Toyota Prius can be chauffeured very comfortably through everyday life. The power is sufficient for a short sprint and the electric drive has enough power to be able to master normal everyday tasks. The Prius also has many safety systems that certainly serve their purpose, but can sometimes be annoying because they are very conservative.

What should I buy?

Toyota offers a customer promise for worry-free driving that is unique in the automotive industry: with the new, free service-activated 185,000 km / 10-year guarantee including the additional 24/7 Assistance package. This speaks in every respect for the brand, which can absolutely stand behind its own products. This also makes a potential customer feel good about choosing a Toyota.

At the time when I was writing this review, out of pure curiosity, I looked up how much the competition in the form of a Tesla Model 3 costs and surprisingly found that the basic list price differs by only CHF 1000 and the new Tesla Model 3 differs is only slightly more expensive than the new Toyota Prius Premium (test vehicle). I can imagine that Toyota will have a hard time selling the Prius in sufficient numbers. Because even if the Tesla has significantly worse workmanship (experience from past test drives), it offers significantly more entertainment and functions than the Toyota. The American also scores points over the Japanese with a significantly larger trunk volume and more practicality. However, I see the advantages of the Prius in the design, reliability, quality and the hybrid drive, which offers and allows a lot of flexibility. We will see where the customers are headed based on future sales figures.

To end my driving review, I would like to thank Toyota Switzerland for allowing me to put their Prius press car through its paces for two weeks.

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