Roomy and zoomy

With mileage boast­ing 100km for just four litres of petrol, the new Toy­ota Prius V is a reve­la­tion with seven seats and oo­dles of room, which suits Wendyl Nis­sen just fine.

Element - - Element Motoring -

The first thing you learn about driv­ing a Prius, as I have for three years, is to ig­nore the petrol gauge. The rea­son for this is that it takes so long to go down that you just don’t bother check­ing it ev­ery day as you might with a non-hy­brid car. In­stead you wait, and af­ter about six weeks it gives you a gen­tle “bleep,” you notice the petrol is low and you find the near­est petrol sta­tion.

Taxi driv­ers all over Auck­land are chang­ing over to Prius be­cause it re­ally does save about a third of your petrol costs and is an ideal drive-around-town car.

And if you re­ally want to save on the gas you can quite hap­pily cruise around town at 40km on the bat­tery alone. I’ve man­aged to get an en­tirely free trip from my house to Pon­sonby Rd sev­eral times now.

The Prius V is new to the mar­ket be­cause it has seven seats and there­fore is the ul­ti­mate fam­ily car. Ideal for fer­ry­ing kids to and from sports and fam­ily out­ings it is ex­tremely roomy, yet not a big car which re­quires the skills of a Top Gear host to park. To drive it feels like an av­er­age sedan and cer­tainly not like a four-wheel drive which some peo­ple re­sort to when they need a ver­sa­tile fam­ily car.

When you’re driv­ing kids around it also has a seat­belt in­di­ca­tor on the dash which tells you which of the five kids in the back has for­got­ten to put their seat­belt on, and the rear win­dows are tinted and have in-built sun shades which you can pull up to pro­tect ba­bies in car seats from too much sun.

From a woman’s point of view there are a num­ber of gad­gets I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate in the Prius V. You can back the car with­out once hav­ing to turn around by us­ing the rear cam­era which throws up an im­age of what’s hap­pen­ing be­hind your car on the screen in front of you. It will also park it for you, if you feel like en­gag­ing its auto park fa­cil­ity. It has a USB port so that I can charge my iPhone and when I con­nected my iPhone via Blue­tooth I was de­lighted to see that no only did it im­port all my con­tacts but also all my mu­sic from my phone which I can play as I drive around.

One thing you do have to be aware of when you be­come a Prius driver is that you will need to ex­plain to a va­ri­ety of older men who grew up with a petrol engine that you don’t have to plug it in at night!

The Prius V is a hy­brid which sim­ply means that it runs on petrol and bat­tery power, de­pend­ing on what the needs of the car are. If you’re zoom­ing up a hill or pass­ing a car then petrol kicks in. If you’re just dilly dal­ly­ing around the sub­urbs the bat­tery will have a turn. And you charge the bat­tery as you drive around by go­ing down hills, us­ing the brakes and there is an on­board gen­er­a­tor.

As a gree­nie I feel con­fi­dent that my Prius V is do­ing its bit by us­ing less fos­sil fu­els but also re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions.

"If you re­ally want to save on the gas you can quite hap­pily cruise around town at 40km

on the bat­tery alone."

Pho­tos: Ted Baghurst

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