As Toyota plans to introduce full hybrid technology across its core model ranges, it continues to refine the quality, performance and owner-appeal of Prius, still the world’s best-known and best-selling hybrid vehicle.
In 2012 guise, the third-generation Prius is now an even an even stronger proposition thanks to a rationalisation of the range which means that in its latest incarnation, the 1.8 CVT Exclusive is also a bargain.
As ever, the appeal of Prius is underpinned by its outstanding efficiency: it continues to deliver 89g/km CO2 emissions – the lowest level in its class – and a combined cycle fuel consumption figure which errs ludicrously on the side of frugality (just 3,9 litres per 100km). Thanks to hybrid technology, the Prius is just as miserly on fuel when travelling around town – you’re looking at consumptions of just 3,9 litres per 100km in the urban cycle (same as combined) and 3,7 litres per 100km in the extra-urban cycle.
The 2012 Prius is bang on-trend in terms of Toyota’s new design approach, which introduces a stronger focus on the lower part of the car’s front end. The new styling brings a new bumper and a larger lower grille that gives the vehicle a low and wide look.
There are new LED headlamps with integrated washer system, too, and the LED daytime running lights have been relocated in the bumper beneath the turn indicators, while the foglights move to within the lower grille. It goes without saying that the door mirrors are heated and come with a power-folding feature.
At the rear the combination lamps have a new look, and there are new-design aero wheelcaps for the 15-inch wheels. These styling tweaks add an extra 20mm to the car’s length, but Prius’s wheelbase and its highly efficient aerodynamic performance (Cd 0.25) are unchanged.
Detail touches in the 2012 Prius combine to raise the perception of quality in the look and feel of the trim, surfaces and upholstery. New, darker materials are used for the dashboard and silver inserts have been added to the centre console and air vents and the hybrid system start button gains blue illumination.
The front seats are new and offer wider adjustment, both fore and aft and in height range,
making it easier for the most comfortable driving position to be achieved. The drivers seat features partial electric adjustment. Front seat warmers are standard.
Toyota’s attention to detail can also be seen in the redesign of the centre console box, which now has a built in cupholder that can be used without having to open the box lid. The 12V power socket, USB port and AUX audio input terminal have been moved to the front of the box for easier use.
For 2012 the Prius gets the Full Monty treatment by offering just one model that comes with everything as standard despite the decidedly wallet-friendly price tag.
Going green doesn’t mean you have to become an ascetic. Just look at the toys the new Prius Exclusive offers on the standard menu:
- Toyota’s innovative touchscreen system for audio, multimedia connectivity, satellite navigation and Bluetooth plus a rear-view camera.
- Linked to SatNav, the new Prius features Advanced Traffic Pattern Intelligence (feeds through the latest information on traffic conditions while en route).
- Voice recognition for music search and play, and phone contacts search and call functions.
- Head-Up Display projects key vehicle information on to the base of the windscreen, including vehicle speed, the Eco Drive Monitor and turn-by-turn navigation information.
- Hi-tech eight-speaker JBL audio system, with power-saving GreenEdge speaker technology.
- Water-repellent glass, dusk-sensing LED headlamps with washers, and an auto-dimming electrochromatic rear-view mirror.
- Revised multi-information display with 3D imaging and new functionality including a monthly fuel consumption record, with a rolling archive of five months’ data, and an ECO savings calculator.
- Intelligent Park Assist - this amazing gizmo not physically helps you park (parallel parking and alley docking) by steering the car into a viable parking space.
- Touch Tracer switches on the steering wheel let the driver control the audio system, air conditioning and the Eco Drive Monitor without having to look down or take his or her hands off the wheel.
But the crème de la crème of these ‘sci-fi’ features is without a doubt the Solar Panel Roof (with standard electric sunroof) – it keeps the car cool when parked in the sun by activating the climate control system and forcing fresh air into the cabin.
Please note, that these are just a tip of the gadgets iceberg. The new Prius also comes with keyless entry (incorporating remote aircon activation), full leather upholstery, multi-function steering wheel with several menu options, and an automatic climate control system incorporating a pollen-cleansing function to mention just a few of the comfort features.
Under the skin
Prius’s body has been made stiffer by increasing the number of welding spots and reinforcements. This increased rigidity allows for softer suspension tuning, which improves ride comfort without diminishing the car’s dynamic abilities.
Redesign of the bracing has also made the steering column more rigid, which has the effect of giving the driver better steering feel. Additional soundproofing materials have improved noise and vibration levels in the cabin even further.
For the rest, performance is still impressive with a total system combined power output (1.8-litre VVT-i Atkinson cycle petrol engine and electric motor) capped at 100kW. Performance matches a conventional 2.0-litre family car, with seamless acceleration thanks to the CVT transmission from nought to 100km/h in 10.4 seconds.
The new Prius 1.8 CVT Exclusive comes with a five-year/90 000 km Service Plan included in the purchase price (service intervals are every 15 000 km), along with Toyota's comprehensive three-year/100 000 km warranty. (Please note that the major hybrid power components on all of Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive models are covered by an 8-year warranty.)
New Prius is supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme and entitles customers to 24 hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.