REVIEW: Toyota's flagship hybrid Prius tops the charts as a fuel efficient car in SA

Toyota has refreshed its flagship Prius hybrid in SA. Wheels24's Janine van der Post rates it as one of the most fuel efficient cars she's driven yet.

South African motorists are reeling from an ever-increasing fuel price; a litre of petrol now costs R16.16 - if you're lucky down at the coast - while diesel also increased by 33c/litre. 

There are three electric cars available in SA - the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and the recently-launched Jaguar i-Pace.

READ: Toyota launches refreshed Prius hybrid in SA

While our electric vehicle infrastructure is years behind the rest of the world, and severely lacking, there are not too many options other than looking at hybrid vehicles in the market.

Toyota and Lexus have an entire stable of hybrid choices in the global market, yet sales numbers are hardly anything to write home about. Yes, they might be at the higher premium price, at least locally, but they are great vehicles, and not just for their relatively low fuel consumption.

South Africans still don't think of hybrid vehicles when considering fuel efficient cars to purchase, but this is a mindset that could change, given the exorbitant price of fuel.

Pricing for the new Prius is R490 200. Toyota SA says it comes with all the bells and whistles, so the only choice you have to make is its body colour.



I recently sampled the automaker's upgraded Prius. Overall, I never new I needed a hybrid in my life until now, even if it's purely based on fuel consumption and fuel spend. 

With the ever-increasing petrol price, a hybrid such as the Prius, which has a claimed fuel consumption of 3.7-litres/100km, could be a more viable choice than fossil-fuelled cars. And, it looks so much better than the first generation of almost two decades ago!

The Prius, like all hybrids and new cars these days, comes with a feature which monitors your driving style and fuel consumption, giving you an "eco-driving" score. I always find myself trying to maintain a high rating and/or improving from my last score. This helps drivers become more economical behind the wheel. 

Despite Toyota's claimed fuel consumption, I made it my mission to drop the fuel usage as low as possible. I maintained a steady reading of 3.3-litres for the longest time before hitting 3.1-litres and then down to 2.9-litres/100km. 
Translated, that means almost 20km driven per litre of fuel!

Besides the dainty fuel-sipping, the Prius is spacious and very comfortable. Seats and equipment are quality to the touch, and I love the specs of glitter in the piano black finishes on the interior inserts.

Under the bonnet, there's a 1.8-litre petrol engine with 142Nm, as well as an electric motor pushing out 53kW and a combined max total of 163Nm. It's always amusing when family members drive along and are perplexed by the silence of the car in EV mode. If the battery is fully charged, you can drive in EV mode for up to 50km/h before the petrol engine kicks in and takes over. If not, the conventional unit will be used instead. 

There are graphics which constantly show how the battery is being charged, through regenerative braking for example. And, just because it's a quiet hybrid, it doesn't mean that it's useless on the long road. It drives quite comfortably and can cruise the national speed limit with ease.

And driving is naturally smooth, nor are you bothered by any whiny noises from the CVT gearbox. Everything works well together and it also comes with stop/start functionality. All of this makes the Prius an absolute gem for city driving and also
in Cape Town's dreaded traffic.

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So what's new?

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Toyota says there are two new colours which have been added to the monochrome colour palette: fierce red and sky metallic blue.

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Specifications as standard

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