Toy­ota Prius PHV

Toy­ota joins the PHV race, but only with a Sig­na­ture Class of­fer­ing, re­ports Damien O’car­roll.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

When Toy­ota first launched the Prius hy­brid it was a game-changer. It shook up the car game and pushed many other man­u­fac­tur­ers down the hy­brid road. Then Toy­ota pretty much ig­nored it. So why ex­actly would a gen­er­a­tion-old Sig­na­ture Class Ja­panese im­ported Prius be of any in­ter­est to any­one other than a taxi driver? Well, this par­tic­u­lar Prius is a bit dif­fer­ent to the ones we are used to see­ing here in New Zealand, be­cause it has a plug. That’s right, Toy­ota New Zealand are get­ting into the plug-in hy­brid game by way of its used car Sig­na­ture Class pro­gramme that sees ex-lease and se­lected Ja­panese im­ports be­ing put through an ex­ten­sive re­fur­bish­ment at its Thames fa­cil­ity be­fore be­ing sold with a a three year war­ranty that also in­cludes three years of free WOF checks and AA road­side as­sis­tance. But for the Prius PHV Toy­ota have upped the stan­dard Sig­na­ture Class war­ranty to an im­pres­sive five years for all of that, in­clud­ing the bat­tery. To qual­ify for se­lec­tion the Prius PHV has to be be­tween two and four years old, with less than 25,000km own the clock and they re­tail for be­tween $30,000 and $40,000. While get­ting a near-new plug-in with a new car war­ranty sounds all very well and good, what is the Prius PHV ac­tu­ally like on the road? Like a Prius, but bet­ter, would be the easy an­swer. With all the good and the bad that the phrase en­tails. De­pend­ing on the con­di­tions and how you drive, the PHV will get around 20km in pure EV mode (Toy­ota claims 26 on a 90 minute charge), but the bat­ter­ies do seem to recharge fairly quickly when driv­ing, so ex­tend­ing this to take in a daily com­mute is not all that hard. Switch­ing the PHV be­tween EV and hy­brid modes when cruis­ing on the open road saw the best re­sults, as the Prius will still try to de­fault to pure EV mode when on the mo­tor­way where it is not at ist most ef­fi­cient. Still, that said, a week of nor­mal driv­ing around Auck­land saw us end our time with the PHV sit­ting on an im­pres­sive 3.4L/100km – and this was purely ur­ban driv­ing (with a small amount of mo­tor­way crawl­ing), re­mem­ber, no long open road trips here. While the PHV was, like ev­ery other Prius, not slightly in­ter­ested in spir­ited driv­ing, it was im­pres­sively com­fort­able and rel­a­tively well equipped for a car of a few years back. The Toy­ota New Zealand-in­stalled in­fo­tain­ment head unit was fid­dly and awk­ward to use, but it sounded okay, while the rest of the in­te­rior was largely in­dis­tin­guish­able from a new car. As a round-town com­muter the PHV was im­pres­sive and sur­pris­ingly us­able in EV mode, while also hav­ing the com­fort­ing back up of the petrol en­gine when the power runs out. Our big­gest crit­i­cism of the PHV would be the fre­quency that the petrol en­gine fires up even when its not ac­tu­ally sup­ply­ing any mo­tive power. It will fire up just to warm it­self up, check in with you or just be­cause, and it takes a bit away from the ex­pe­ri­ence of cruis­ing silently on elec­tric­ity when the petrol en­gine clears its throat ev­ery so of­ten.

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