When I first heard of “Diesel-gate” via Volkswagen, my first thought was that this is a huge opportunity for hybrid cars. With so many automotive choices, the “more for less” mantra is incredibly strong in today’s consumer market.
The big draw for diesel was that you get extended mileage compared to gasoline and that it was allegedly “clean”. And while hybrids didn’t come out to do direct battle with the diesel market, they were in the same “I don’t want to spend so much on fuel” arena.
As hybrid technology advances, cars are going further and your fuel costs aren’t rising. It’s pretty hard to do what Volkswagen did with diesel with an electric motor, which is what the Prius uses.
In addition to saving some cash at the pump, most hybrid drivers, I imagine, have an eco-friendly sense where they realize an automobile is a necessary part of their lifestyle and want to reduce its environmental impact.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so don’t be surprised if other diesel manufactured vehicles are exposed for botched testing methods over the coming months.
And here’s where the hybrid opportunity arises: to remind consumers that there’s a practical, clean option to spend less and go further.
And so we now focus on the 2015 Toyota Prius C, the smallest hybrid offering.
Powered by an Atkinson cycle 1.5 litre, four-cylinder CVT engine producing 100 horsepower with the battery component beneath the rear seats, this gas-miser is certainly closer to the tortoise than the hare. And if you’re a city slicker, that’s what you should be gravitating towards. No sense in racing to the next red light, right?
Surprisingly (to me), Toyota says that 99% of hybrids sold since 2001 have never had their original battery replaced. Which counters the popular “yeah, but hybrid batteries die after four-five years” argument. The eight-year, 160,000km battery warranty doesn’t hurt either. Full marks to you, Toyota.
Now those 100 ponies won’t win you any money at the racetrack but what they will do is move you smoothly through urban and rural settings, carry your cargo and let you buy that extra venti pumpkin spiced latte (or whatever your coffee order is) per week.
Getting up to higher speeds will take a few extra seconds but there’s definitely no worry of being too slow getting on the highway. You’re buying this car for fuel economy and eco-friendliness, not for power. Once you’re at higher speeds, the Prius C holds 100km/h and over quite well without a screaming engine.
With three available drive modes (normal, ECO and EV) be sure to keep it in “normal” when you need quicker acceleration. The ECO mode draws less power and EV is keeps you silent and battery operated up to 16km/h, which his good for the molasses miles (rush hour traffic).
I did a weekend trip to St.Catharines and the highway drive from the 905 was comfortable, smooth and sipped gas like I sip whiskey. Yes, this is touted as a solid city vehicle but I’ll vouch for its good highway feel.
It’s paltry weight of only 2,500 pounds contributed to my great week of driving where I travelled 519.1 km over 9 hours and 41 minutes and hit 4.8L per 100km on the tiny 36 litre tank. Oh, and 87 km or 17% of that was electric. Seeing as I averaged 600km on a 55 litre tank on my old 2010 Mazda 3 GT, the Prius figures are impressive.
The sloping design enhances aerodynamics and those beautiful LED headlamps frame the front end nicely. I find the looks of the Prius quite good, while I’m certain that others will disagree.
Inside, Toyota has given all five passengers very comfortable seating via their SofTex seat surfaces (only in the technology trim, fabric comes on the non-tech trim) so you can be comfortable as you help save the earth and a few bucks weekly. Rear seating is good for two comfortably and you could put a third back there with shorter legs.
The dash is centred opposed to left justified, which took me about five minutes to adjust to but once I knew to look to the right for my info, I settled in nicely.
Heated seats, tilt/telescopic steering, Bluetooth, six-speakers, SMS/email to speech capabilities, push button start and back-up camera, 15” alloy wheels, moon roof, and LED fog lamps come standard on the Technology trim, along with plenty of other options.
The centre console has a floating effect to it as there’s a large gap between the bottom and the cup holders. Efficiently, Toyota put storage space between the two along with cup holders. It’s a bit odd shaped and not symmetrical but the 6.1” touchscreen is easy to navigate along with the climate controls just beneath. Above that, there’s a 3.5” display which gives you all of your driving information. Seeing as it’s a hybrid, Toyota offers a plethora of figures about fuel economy, energy monitoring, power flow and many others. It’s kinda cool to know just how efficient you’re driving is. Another cool factor is the Prius allows you determine your “Eco Score” by entering the price of gas and evaluating your efficiency in dollars as well. If I’m given tons of information about how I drive, I’m all for it…especially if helps save money and the planet.
So for those of you who are looking for a hybrid car on a budget, the Prius C starts a touch above $21k and the Technology trim at $26K. And for that price, you’ll have the option for lots of technology, you’ll be saving money on fuel and a bit of the planet at the same time. We all know Toyota’s have an incredible life expectancy, they’re just built so damn well.
The Prius C is a solid option to enter the hybrid market and gives you versatility, decent cargo space, a good tool to great fuel efficiency and a smooth, comfortable ride.
2015 Prius C Technology: $26,055
Premium Paint: $255
Yay: Great mileage, comfortable seats, loads of technology, good for city and urban driving
Nay: Some may not like the shape and want a bit more power