Drive – Toyota Prius C Review

26 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Toyota Prius C Review


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QuickSpin: Australia’s cheapest hybrid

Toyota’s city-sized Prius C sets a benchmark for hybrid car pricing – but does the drive experience match up?

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Strong list of equipment


Good engine response


Very difficult to match the claimed consumption

Average dynamics

Expensive for a city car

It was only a matter of time until Toyota began expanding its Prius family. The world’s best-selling hybrid car that a decade ago was to some a weirdo flash in the pan has built itself such a name that it’s now everywhere from the red carpet and Hollywood blockbusters to any big corporation’s car park.

So a little more than a year ago Toyota revealed the Prius C (for city) and Prius V (for versatile), each designed to extend the hybrid car’s appeal. The same technology is used in different bodies, with the C now the cheapest petrol-electric car on the market.

Based on the underpinnings of the Toyota Yaris, the Prius C gets a unique body and flavour.

Price and equipment

By city car standards the Prius C is at the more expensive end, priced from $23,990 plus on-road and dealer costs. It justifies the ask with plenty in the way of gadgets, though, including a reversing camera and sensor key entry and starting, which means you can leave the key in your pocket. There’s also climate-control airconditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, USB input, cruise control, a funky full-colour trip computer screen and a separate touchscreen for the above-average sound system.

There’s even a full-size spare tyre, impressive for a city car all about saving fuel.


On the safety front there’s a stability control system and seven airbags; dual front, driver’s knee, front-side and side curtain.


If you want more there’s a Prius C i-Tech, which for an extra $3000 brings satellite-navigation as its big-ticket item. There also are alloy wheels, LED headlights, self-folding mirrors, a bigger rear wing and unique interior finishes.

Under the bonnet

Good luck achieving the claimed 3.9 litres per 100 kilometre fuel figure for the Prius C. Interestingly the figure is identical to that claimed for the larger, heavier, more powerful Prius (minus the C), demonstrating how difficult it is for car makers to lower their fuel use figures once they’re at this level.


While the trip computer recorded some drivers before us achieving as little as 4.3L/100km, everyday driving mainly around town yielded 5.5L/100km for us.


As with all hybrids, its lowest fuel use is achieved around town, where the electric motor can do its best in capturing energy normally lost as heat through the brakes.


The Eco and EV buttons down near the handbrake aren’t well placed and would seem to make better sense quarantined to the driver’s side.


Performance-wise the Prius C is a surprise, using its electric motor to good effect to jump smartly from a standstill. It’s also respectably perky when accelerating, albeit with the constant revs associated with a CVT, or continuously variable transmission, which matches engine revs to response.


Only up steeper hills can the 1.5-litre engine buzz away annoyingly, while at other times and at lower speeds the work is left purely to the electric motor.

How it drives

It may be high tech in the drivetrain department but that doesn’t translate to its driving dynamics, which are only average. Sure, it’s light and easy around town, helped by its featherweight steering.


It’s also easy to park, with the reversing camera a bonus.


Push on, though, and it’s easy to find the limit of adhesion with the tyres, which can also be noisy at higher speeds when cruising.


Comfort levels are only in the OK department and the Prius C struggles with a sharp bump; even something like a cat’s eye reflector can shudder into the cabin.

Comfort and practicality

Based on the popular Yaris city car, the Prius C has some similar thinking, from the interesting textures and light greys on darker-grey finishes. Some of the patterns, too, step away from the norm and give the car a more modern feel, although we’re not sure about the aqua swirl on the door.


Occupants are greeted by a digital speedo towards the centre of the upper dash, along with a multi-function trip computer that has everything from detailed trip data to a novelty score attributed to your eco driving and the percentage of electric driving the car has done. Scrolling through the many screens can be clunky and some screens leave you without handy info (such as outside temperature) but I’m nitpicking for a car that is streets ahead of similarly-priced competition.


Storage is genuinely impressive for such a diminutive car, with a shelf above the glovebox, some hidey holes in the centre console and even phone-sized locators in front of the steering wheel.


The driver’s seat is perched a fraction high for taller drivers and there’s a blind spot over the left shoulder due to the design of the angled rear-most pillar, but vision is otherwise good. Support from the seats is also more city comfortable than windy road hugging, while rear legroom is tight.


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