Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I know that this is supposed to be a gadget website, but I just can't help writing about the Toyota Prius.
A huge marketing campaign has been launched by the Japanese manufacturer, aimed at a young market. Stars and celebs are advertised as choosing the Prius over other cars due to it's low immisions to save the planet. All well and good, I think it's becuase thay can afford it.
The Prius is a hybrid. When I first got into it, I had no idea what to expect. I was thinking, electirc car, but it isn't. In fact, when you start it up for the 1st time, with the start button as the car has no key, the engine is quite noisy. An efficient engine works at a set temperature and the engine needs to get to that point before it works as well as it can. Also, a low revving engine isn't as efficient as a low revving one. To save time, goto How Stuff Works, to find out more about Hybrids.
When you start driving, then the magic starts. The engine is used when it is needed, which is more than I thought it would. The battery is always being charged when the engine is on and if you drive slowly enough, the engine switches off to save fuel. The one thing that Toyota like to punt is "Just Drive It." and that is all you need to do. There is no need to worry about if the battery is being charged, no need to think what your fuel economy is, just drive.
As for saving fuel, this car is OK. Not brilliant, just OK. 5.x litres / 100km. My 1.6l Peugeot get around 8.xl/100km.
When on the highway, there isn't much of a difference in fuel economy, but city driving is when it comes into its own. The engine has a habit of saving itself, but I think that the contstant switching on and off will lead to shorter service intervals.
Should you buy this car? If you have the cash, and you really really really want to save the planet, go for it. It's not sexy, it's not flash and it's not fast, but it is clean.