£31,695 - £33,895 Price range
The new Toyota Prius Plug-in is more comfortable and better to drive than the outgoing model. Rivals include the Kia Niro, Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid.
The Plug-in Prius is identical to the standard car in almost every way, but its ability to charge its batteries from mains electricity – in as little as three hours – gives it a couple of big benefits.
For a kickoff, it can run on electric power alone for up to 39 miles – up from 15 miles in the old Plug-in model. That translates into staggering fuel economy of 283mpg, compared to the 94.1mpg the regular model can manage. Toyota reckons it’s good for a range of more than 800 miles in normal driving.
Secondly, there’s its low CO2 emissions of 22g/km that exempt it from paying London’s congestion charge. Economy is very much the focus so the car’s leisurely 0-62mph time of 11.1 seconds and top speed of 101mph are to be expected.
Handling can be found on the softer side of the dynamic spectrum. The Plug-in weighs a substantial 150kg over the standard Prius which, when combined with its tall-profile tyres, means it does roll in bends and struggles with quick changes in direction.
Brake feel, or the lack of it, comes courtesy of the regenerative braking system which recharges the batteries as you stop.
The final nail in the Plug-in’s dynamic coffin is the CVT gearbox that’s much improved over the old transmission, but still unresponsive and noisy when compared to the double-clutch unit you get in the Kia Niro.
Inside, it looks very similar to the standard car, but comes with additional graphics and buttons to monitor the battery usage and driving modes. Unfortunately, in making it a plug-in you now only get two rear seats, though legroom is plentiful. Boot space is also compromised by the bigger batteries, dropping from 502-litres (in the regular Prius) to 360-litres.
As standard the Prius Plug-in comes with alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, air-con, an eight-inch touchscreen, sat nav and a head up display. For leather seats, you’ll have to upgrade to Excel trim, which also adds a premium audio system and park assist. You can even specify a solar-panel roof that increase your range by up to three miles a day, though we suspect this is true for the Costa Del Sol, but perhaps not large swathes of the sun-deprived UK.
Safety features are aplenty. It comes with a pre-collision system which will actively brake the car for you if it detects an imminent collision – be it with a car or a person. There’s also a lane departure system that warns when you’re drifting out of lane.
Overall, then, the Plug-in Prius is ideal if you do the majority of your driving in central London – or any other city with a low emissions zone. For everyone else, though, the regular Prius is cheaper, more practical and better to drive.
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