back to article Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car review

Extended electric-only driving range has been a long time coming to hybrid cars but with the arrival of the Vauxhall Ampera and now Toyota’s Prius Plug-in the breed may finally shake off the reputation of vehicles that only exist because Americans don’t like diesels. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car The mains attraction: …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It also comes with a 2 mile long extension lead built into the front bumper, just in case you can't find a charger.

    1. Richard Wharram

      ???

      Or the 9.9 gallon petrol tank?

    2. Ben Rose

      Read the article

      This is a normal hybrid car with a plug-in option. Read the article before picking a fault that doesn't exist.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's someone who didn't bother the actually read the article...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one comments on,

    1. How expensive it is

    2. How Eco friendly the batteries are

    3 How the new 3 cylinder Ford engines are quicker and give better fuel economy

    1. Lee Dowling

      By my estimate, that car could buy me the price I paid for my current car, plus all the repairs and MOT's etc. I've had over the past three years I've had it, plus just over 7 years worth of fuel at my normal usage (current prices, obviously). That's not counting ANY fuel or electricity for the Prius.

      So by the time the warranty on that dies, my current car will have just cost me slightly more than this cost to buy, if you never plugged in or fuelled the Prius and didn't use it at all. Oh, and I won't have to pay for an expensive battery when that happens either.

      Sure, someone, somewhere probably finds it quite attractive compared to what they are currently driving, but that's literally my entire travel budget for the next 5 years, plus inflation, plus some more, before you even start the engine.

      Oh, and last time I sold a very similar car to mine, of a very similar age, I actually got more for it scrap value than it had cost to buy. What's the scrap price of a hybrid with a duff battery that costs almost as much as the car itself to replace? Anyone know? Is it £30,000 or thereabouts?

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Facepalm

        @Lee

        I confess I am struggling to see your point. The same calculation holds true whatever new, family-sized car you consider when compared to older second-hand cars, so why do you spend all that time typing it up?

        Speaking as someone who was in the fortunate position of having enough money to consider buying a new car a couple of years ago, I compared the Prius against various other similarly sized and equipped cars, notably the Mondeo, and came to the conclusion that the Prius had a massively lower TCO over the 4-5 years I am likely to keep it (not least because the low emissions makes it a very tax-efficient car to own for those of us who run companies). It's also a very nice car to drive, in my opinion, which was a bonus.

        GJC

        1. Lee Dowling

          Re: @Lee

          My point is that if you're trying to get people to buy eco-friendly cars, those with £30k in their pocket aren't your target market. Because the guy in the 20-year-old Transit, burning fuel like nobody's business, is doing more damage than 100 of the new-car-buyers and paying less to do so.

          So:

          1) Why are we saying these cars are "green"?

          2) Why are we subsidising these at great expense (including your precious-to-business road tax exemptions)?

          3) Why aren't we targeting the market that matters yet, and let those with money to burn (£30k to last 5 years? That's nearly 100 second-hand cars, with a year's MOT and tax in my experience. I could buy and own two second-hand cars every week for that - and if I sold them for even 1/2 the purchase price 3 days later, I could keep going for my entire life) waste it on new cars.

          4) Why are we buoying up the car industry at all in times of fiscal hardship?

          Honestly, produce a "green" car for £6000 that does even just 60mph (enough for motorway by law) at a decent distance and you'll cut emissions in half withing the decade. But fancy "hybrid" that are still burning petrol, still not miraculously efficient, still digging up lithium, still pumping tons of waste into landfill within years, and still around £30k even with subsidies and you're wasting your time.

          P.S. I own a second-hand Mondeo.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: @Lee

            I too priced up a prius vs ford. The ford won by a country mile. I bought a ford SMAX in 2009 it cost me £19700 (its a 2.5T titanium with no extras or metallic) bought it from drivethedeal and it was delivered to my door (it is a european RHD car with UK V5 in my name so no dodgy stuff).

            I couldnt get a prius with any sort of discount at all. Price at the time was circa 23k Insurance is about £100 more for the ford, tax is about £200 fuel is far more at 25mpg on average. But all together it isnt 3K more over 3 years.

            How much does a major 3 year service cost on a prius (with those batteries?) I reckon that will cost a little bit. Plus my 224gCO2 2.5T is far far nicer to drive, bigger inside and the same chassis as a mondeo. Residual cost in my SMAX - I got an offer of 11k dealership trade in with my 3 year service (I have no intention of swapping) so without haggling im 8k down in 3 years. Pretty good depreciation (obviously the car is worth more, probably 13.5k+)

            1. Ben Rose

              @Danny 14 Re: @Lee

              @Danny 14,

              You're believing hype I'm afraid.

              "How much does a major 3 year service cost on a prius (with those batteries?)"

              Batteries require no servicing, ever. They will last the lifetime of the car.

              The Prius will also have a higher residual value over the same period.

              1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
                Thumb Down

                Re: @Danny 14 @Lee

                "Batteries require no servicing, ever. They will last the lifetime of the car."

                In the sense, presumably, that the car's economic lifetime is limited to how long the batteries last.

                I'm sorry, I can't get excited about the Prius. It just looks like a slow, ugly, cramped, expensive car. If somebody proves conclusively that it will save the planet for us, maybe that's worth it.

            2. Geoff Campbell
              Boffin

              Re: @Danny 14

              I paid £24k for my Prius, with all the toys. Road tax is free, fuel costs will be a little better than the SMAX, I tend to average around 60-65mpg (on petrol, which is currently 5-6p/litre cheaper than diesel). Servicing is dirt cheap - the engine is completely belt-less, so the most expensive service I've had in 50,000 miles has been a touch over £200. Mostly they are £130, every 10,000 miles. Tyre last 50,000 miles on the front, and an unknown but huge distance on the rear.

              But, and this is the kicker, the Benefit in Kind rating is 10%, so I can run it as a company car without incurring horrendous income tax and NI liabilities. Oh, and because the CO2 emissions are below 120g/km, I could write off the expenditure against corporation tax in a single year. None of this would have applied to anything family-sized in the Ford range at the time I was looking. As I say, the TCO was way lower than any of the directly competing models.

              GJC

  3. Robert E A Harvey

    95%?

    I can see the reson for the high score, but you can buy two ford focuses for that. or one, and an enormous amount of petrol.

    It's getting cleverer, but what is the lifetime energy budget? By the time you have made, shipped, exchanged, recycled, and disposed of the batteries, are we collectively better off.

    [BFO ? icon]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 95%?

      There must be a typo. 95% for that thing? Seriously

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Elephant in the room

    The big issue with all these hybrids that this review, at least, fails to mention, is the life expectancy and replacement cost of the batteries.

    Based on the purchase price alone, these cars are expensive (as mentioned by others) Add in replacing the batteries after X years, and the price just goes through the roof.

    My current car (bought new) has lasted me over 12 years so far with minimal expensive other than routine servicing (and cost a lot less than £30K too !). Will any of these hybrid cars last as long without an expensive battery change ? Highly unlikely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Elephant in the room

      If you're in London then this car doesn't have to pay the congestion charge. That's quite a saving.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Elephant in the room

        Allow me to ask this question as an American who has been to London a few times:

        Why on Earth would any sane person WANT to drive a car into the congestion charge zones? Take the friggin' Tube! Why would you want to deal with the issue of parking, the traffic, etc? It seems to me that is you had to be in those zones enough that the congestion charge is a significant factor in your life you would not need to have a car.

      2. Lee Dowling

        Re: Elephant in the room

        "If you're in London then this car doesn't have to pay the congestion charge. That's quite a saving."

        LPG conversion costs about £1000 on your existing car, saves you half your money on petrol, and does the same (and also zero road tax, I believe).

        1. Geoff Campbell
          Boffin

          Re: LPG

          Only very, very specific LPG conversions carried out by approved installers are exempt from congestion charge (check out the Powershift scheme, unless the bloody government have renamed it again). In the past, I've found it cheaper to use a non-registered installer and carry on paying the congestion charge, although to be fair I don't go to London that much.

          Also, the discount on road tax for LPG is about a tenner a year.

          GJC

        2. Geoff Campbell
          Boffin

          Re: Congestion Charge

          Oh, one further thing - the Prius is exempt from congestion charges, however the car needs to be registered as exempt, for a charge of a tenner a year. Worth doing even if you only drive inside the zone once a year, just to avoid the hassle of paying the charge, though.

          GJC

        3. Ben Rose

          Re: Elephant in the room

          "LPG conversion costs about £1000 on your existing car, saves you half your money on petrol, and does the same (and also zero road tax, I believe)."

          Except a decent conversion usually cost a bit more than that. It will also invalidate any warranty on your car, although the LPG installer may cover some bits. It will also take up a large proportion of your boot, or require you to lose your spare wheel if you already have one. It's also not always congetion charge exempt. It also won't usually give you zero road tax, but you may be eligible for a reduction. It's also not available for many modern cars due to incompatibility with fuel injectors. LPG is cheaper but you need more or it to go the same distance which, given the small gas tank, means you have to refuel a lot to get the full benefit. Apart from that, it's great ;)

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Elephant in the room

            I use LPG.

            It saves me about £150 a month

            As to fitting I prefer DIY

            Injection cars are easier the electrical systems piggyback

            1. TeeCee Gold badge

              Re: Elephant in the room

              "Injection cars are easier the electrical systems piggyback..."

              Bit drilling the manifold for the LPG injectors is a bitch. Unless you're talking about putting a single-mixer system on a modern, fuel injected, vehicle. A heinous, inefficient abortion of an approach that should be banned and which no reputable installer would countenance.

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Re: Manifold drilling

                That was not difficult, took me about an hour.

                4 weekends to convert a 6 cylinder car with fuel injection to a SGI LPG system

            2. Ben Rose

              Re: Elephant in the room

              "I use LPG.

              It saves me about £150 a month

              As to fitting I prefer DIY"

              Unless a certified install, it likely invalidates your insurance and is illegal.

              All fitted parts must carry a logo for EU approval. They can only be purchased by legal installers. Unless you are one, you're likely a potential fireball on our roads.

              1. MJI Silver badge

                DIY LPG

                I followed COP II, I had it inspected afterwards. It passed.

                I have seen very poor professional installs, including routing wiring next to exhaust components.

                The you must have a professional install for LPG is rubbish, it is not that difficult, if you can do serious car maintenance you can do it.

                Seven years on a DIY install still working, I am happy. I took my time and did it properly, no running wiring under the car, I took it through the insides, I managed to very carefully route the piping and tuck it out of the way.

                I know of quite a few DIY installs and they are all a lot better sorted than a lot of professional installs.

                A lot of professional installs do not even remove the inlet manifold to drill it, so any swarf that drops in goes in the engine.

                Sorry with LPG I am getting it done properly, by me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Elephant in the room

      Have you ever heard of anyone changing a battery? I have certainly heard of engine changes, even had to have one myself. if the bqatteries do last 16 years before becoming half powered I doubt anyone will bother spending so much on tha 16yo car, if a 16 yo car needs a new engine its usually scrpped/recycled.

      Don't forget that a battery at end of life still has the same mass of chemical as when it was new, recycling is very feasible and the batteries are still worth a lot of money when dead.

    3. Geoff Campbell
      Boffin

      Re: Elephant in the room

      There are plenty of 12 year old Priuses around. Most are still on the original battery pack. Toyota provides something like ten years of warranty for the battery pack, if I remember correctly.

      GJC

      1. JP19

        Re: Elephant in the room

        The only way to get that kind of life out of the battery is not to use it much which is why the original Pious only used the middle 30% or so of the battery capacity and had no mains charging or battery only operation facility.

        If people charge and use most of the battery capacity daily the battery will be knackered in 2-3 years.

        Electric cars are shit because batteries are shit. The idea that we will increasingly burn gas to generate electricity to charge electric car batteries instead of burning the gas directly in the car is bat shit crazy.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          FAIL

          Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

          The original Prius does indeed have an EV mode, and uses something around 70-80% of the battery capacity, but thank you for that stunning display of ignorance, it quite made my day.

          GJC

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            an EV mode ...

            For trivially small distances, and needs to recharge from the engine. Big, fair, hairy deal.

          2. Ben Rose

            Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

            Geoff,

            The original Prius did have an EV mode but the only way to charge the battery was to start the engine...using petrol. Hardly "battery only", as I believe JP19 was alluding too.

            1. Geoff Campbell
              Facepalm

              Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

              The battery is also charged by regenerative braking. Has anyone here except me ever driven one? The comments are suggesting not.

              GJC

              1. Ben Rose

                Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

                Geoff: "The battery is also charged by regenerative braking. Has anyone here except me ever driven one? The comments are suggesting not."

                And where does the energy in the braking come from? Kinetic energy...movement. And where does the movement come from? The petrol engine.

                The regnerative braking reduces losses, it doesn't create energy. I've been a hybrid owners for years but I also know how they work.

                1. Geoff Campbell
                  WTF?

                  Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

                  Bit nit-picky, that, but if that's you want to play it, fine, you're right, I'm wrong.

                  GJC

                2. This post has been deleted by its author

                3. TeeCee Gold badge

                  Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

                  Literally speaking yes, but in context no. As conventional vehicles throw all that away it is, effectively, energy for free. You are not burning any more fuel, just being a hell of a sight more efficient at what you do with it.

                4. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

                  Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

                  Ah yes the regen braking had a pious hire when we were in vegas earlier this year eventually the car turns the engine on for more braking once the battery hits 'full' such as the descent into death valley from the Nevada side.

                  I to thought it a nice motor to drive, loved the 300ish ft lb torque coupled to traction control, WHooosh up to about 25mph just the ticket in traffic. Handles quite flat too minimal body roll etc. Bit of a wanderer though I suspect tracking set to zero rather than a little toe out, made the car need constant finger corrections when on the highway at speed which became a bit of a pain after a couple of hours, needlessly tiring. av petrol consumption was 50-52mpg on the interstates doing around 70-75 with AC on all of the time. 38-40 mpg around Vegas no better than our Skoda 1.2 Cruise control very good, interesting to watch it changing between battery and engine on long climbs, fiddle with he cruise control and prevent the engine go in to er how to discribe... 'noisy mode' Pious drivers will know what I mean :-)

              2. JP19

                Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

                It isn't charged by regenerative braking (unless you happen to be at the top of an endless hill).

                It recovers some of the energy which would go into the discs and drums of a conventional car.

                Unless you drive with two lead feet conventional car discs and drums barely get warm most of the time, the potential for energy recovery is trivial.

          3. JP19

            Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

            From http://www.eaa-phev.org/wiki/Prius_EV_Mode_Button

            "The EV Mode Button is a standard part of the Japan and EU Prius but was not installed in the US versions, perhaps because of extended warranties in Ca due to AT-PZEV regulations and qualifications criteria."

            The EV button knackers the battery. Couldn't meet stricter warranty requirements with it. I remember reading part of those warranty requirements was a 10 year battery life.

    4. Eponymous Cowherd
      Unhappy

      Re: Elephant in the room

      Agreed,

      But the real elephant in the room is the Governments £5k subsidy on these cars which only the well off are ever going to buy. For most of us, if we want a car of a similar size, we are not going to fork out £25k or £30k (more like £12k - £18k) whatever the subsidy.

      Instead, those of us who cannot afford to buy one of these eco-toys have to put up with spiralling fuel and car tax, part of which funds this rich-kid bonus.

      1. Ben Rose

        Re: Elephant in the room

        Agreed. Considering the Government is broke and cutting welfare, why are we wasting money subsidising overpriced cars?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Elephant in the room

          Well you should say the same about wind power and solar installations as well.

          1. Ben Rose

            Re: Elephant in the room

            I partially agree but wind power and solar installations do actually reduce our need for fossil fuels. Electric cars only increases electricity demand, and therefore the amound of coal/gas that is burned.

            1. peter_dtm
              FAIL

              Ben Rose --> Posted Monday 29th October 2012 10:48 GMT

              wind power has not caused a single closure of any power station; because my friend you have to cater for when the wind doesn't blow.

              In fact the randomness of the availability of wind power causes proper power stations to be run slightly (to considerably) more inefficiently.

              In fact the cost of connecting wind mill powered electricity generators to the Grid is massive.

              In fact; without the subsidy to build

              the subsidy to own and the guaranteed extortionate price per KW the Grid has to pay when ever the wind does blow (regardless of whether the Grid needs more power)

              no one in their right mind would touch the stupid things with a barge pole

              Solar has the same problem - only it is guaranteed to be UNavailable for on average 12 hours a day over any 360 day period - so again you have to provision a REAL power station for night time use ; and those frequent periods when the dank grey clouds make the UK such a warm bright light and wondrous place (/sarc).

              February 2012 - 2 weeks of no wind; sun for about 7 hours a day; just where is all that lecky going to come from to power those lecky cars (and the rail ways and the factories and the offices and the homes...) if any more of those engineering abortions are imposed at vast expense on the people of this once great country.

              see here for an engineering critique :

              http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf

              and here to get some idea of how wind power does NOT track demand in any useful way :

              http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

              and you can also see the large periods where wind power contributes the equivalent of stuff all power to the Grid - < 25% availability - never mind; shanks pony is soo much more healthy; as no doubt is freezing.

              1. Ben Rose

                @peter_dtm - Re: Ben Rose --> Posted Monday 29th October 2012 10:48 GMT

                You're preaching to the converted, don't think that I'm a big supporter of renewables.

                Regardless of how limited and costly they are though, every kWh that comes from them is a kWh that doesn't have to come from fossil fuels. I do appreciate that efficiency of power stations may be affected by them at times though.

                Renewable Energy without the hot air is a good read.

                http://www.withouthotair.com/

    5. Ian Johnston Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Elephant in the room

      Battery cost matters on a true electric car like a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla Roadster. It doesn't matter on a Prius, because it's just a medium size petrol car with a battery bolted on to pull it down the tax bands a bit. Most Priuses will drive on engine power for 99% of the time, so even if the battery falls to 10% of original (meagre) capacity it will have no real effect.

      1. Ben Rose

        Re: Elephant in the room

        "Battery cost matters on a true electric car like a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla Roadster. It doesn't matter on a Prius, because it's just a medium size petrol car with a battery bolted on to pull it down the tax bands a bit. Most Priuses will drive on engine power for 99% of the time, so even if the battery falls to 10% of original (meagre) capacity it will have no real effect."

        Not entirely sure what you're on about but a standard Prius engine won't be running for 40% of a typical 40 miles journey. Even less on the plug-in version as the battery only range is further. This reduces cost to run, but increases cost to buy.

  5. stu_ekins
    Facepalm

    "This makes for an altogether more enjoyable and rapid motoring experience."

    I very much doubt it..

  6. petur
    Boffin

    Ampera

    For me the principles behind the Ampera make more sense, would be great if there was an article comparing both in detail.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ampera

      Love my Ampera but the cold winter does affect battery range. I'm still an electric commute to work though. After several long drives in the summer (including a 300Mile nonstop trip to Cornwall) I'm at 124MPG lifetime over 6600 miles. and before anyone says its too expensive, yes it is not cheap but not any more than replacing my merc with a like for like, and I'm making large fuel savings as a result, in fact spending an extra 10k upfront will payback more than leaving the money in a bank.

      1. Ben Rose

        Re: Ampera

        It's too expensive.

        It cost no more than replacing your Merc with a like for like. There's a reason for that. 1) It's not like for like 2) It's not a Merc.

        It's way too expensive and costs massively more than similar alternatives. You're also dreaming on the MPG front. If you plug it in every day and only do a few miles, you could claim an infinite mpg if you like - that would be similarly pointless. The Ampera will NEVER go one hundred miles on a single gallon of fuel, even on a full charge. Neither will this Prius. I find the mpg figures for plug-in cars to be utterly misleading.

        You reckon the extra £10k is better in the car than in the bank? Wrong, it would be better in the bank buying fuel for a significantly cheaper alternative.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ampera

          Yup! Better in the car see this.

          I make that £15,118 in 5 years compared to £12,762 at 5% compound (can you do better?)

          (assumes £1.40 per litre for next 5 years).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ampera

      No, they don't. The Ampera is a workaround for the Toyota patents. And there are resources on the Internet if you google for them that will explain just how clever the Toyota hybrid drive is. This is a car with no gearbox and a clutch that is only there for towing. It is also mechanically remarkably simple.

      I bought a Mk II Prius because I went off Diesels. The dual-clutch automatic system is potentially very expensive (mine went wrong under warranty and the garage told me that the non-warranty cost of the repair was around £3400). Modern high pressure turbo motors can blow very expensively due to something as simple as an oil like in the compressor. It is a very expensive way to get efficiency, whereas the Toyota design uses a normally aspirated engine running with very low stresses, so it is very unlikely to develop expensive faults.

      I won't be in the market for the new hybrid simply because the existing one does everything I need very economically and I see no obvious reason to replace it. The saving on fuel just isn't worth the depreciation of buying a new car.

      As for expensive - as far as I can see it is cheaper than an equivalent BMW Diesel, which figures (the automated gearbox alone costs more than the Prius battery and an electric motor or two).

      1. Stacy
        FAIL

        Re: Ampera

        OK- double clutch gearboxes are expensive and I hope mine never breaks.

        But how much do you think the CVT transmisson of the Prius (is deos have one, the engine is not connected directly to the wheels) will cost to replace if it dies? Or the batteries? Or the regenerative braking system? Or the logic board that controls it all? Or the large LCD display? Or any other of the systems that your Diesel car didn't have?

        Cars cost money when they break - don't think that the Prius is a simple 'mechano' car that has nothing to go wrong on you - I don't think it could be further from the truth!

        1. Ben Rose

          Re: Ampera

          But how much do you think the CVT transmisson of the Prius (is deos have one, the engine is not connected directly to the wheels) will cost to replace if it dies?

          Pretty cheap, that's why CVT boxes were developed in the first place. They don't have separate gears like a conventional gearbox and therefore less moving parts required.

          > Or the batteries?

          Last the lifetime of the car.

          Or the regenerative braking system?

          They call that an alternator on most cars. Most modern diesels also have regenerative braking to recharge the stop/start system.

          >Or the logic board that controls it all?

          Clutching at straws? All vehicles have an ECU.

          >Or the large LCD display?

          Any car with sat nav has one of these.

          >Or any other of the systems that your Diesel car didn't have?

          It actually has much less. Modern diesel have many systems not fitted to standard petrol cars such as turbos, SCR and bigger catalytic converters.

          >Cars cost money when they break - don't think that the Prius is a simple 'mechano' car that has nothing to go >wrong on you - I don't think it could be further from the truth!

          It is one of the most reliable cars ever built and Toyota have less faults with them than anything else they've ever sold. Reliability is a genuine benefit here.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Ampera

          "Pretty cheap, that's why CVT boxes were developed in the first place."

          Even better in fact, as the Prius does not have a CVT in the conventional sense. It uses an epicyclic transmission, effectively a differential, with fixed gearing between the components. Variation of engine to wheel speed is accomplished by biasing power from the engine, via the planet gear carrier, to the annulus (final drive) or sun gear (generator). This is achieved by varying the torque (or countertorque) applied at the sun gear.

          A total of 26 moving parts IIRC, of which the only ones even remotely likely to fail are the two motor/generators and the parking pawl system, the remainder being large helical gears and various bearings, which outlast the car in most applications. Where you would be really stuffed would be were the electronics to pack it in. Then again, that holds true of any modern vehicle.

          As for fixing it, take a look at one. It's without a doubt the simplest automotive transmission ever made. The fact that it's electronically controlled may scare people, but mechanically it's a doddle.

          Incidently, see what happens to your modern diesel when the ECU controlling the HP pump gives up. Or the one running the fuel injectors. Or the one running the emission control system. Or the one handling the instrumentation and diagnostics (special mention to Ford for their legendary dash ECU failure woes here)........

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ Those talking about dual clutch automatics...

            why? I mean, just why?

            It does result in faster gear changes than a manual box but it's only really worth the extra expense and weight in a very high-performance sports car.

            Anywhere else you'd be better off saving weight and improving some other part of the engine for better efficiency/performance.

            Unless you're one of those strangely stunted people who seem to regard changing gear as being too complicated for them to handle?

            1. Stacy

              Re: @ Those talking about dual clutch automatics...

              Because the gear change is oh so smooth! Speed? Nah, not really - quicker than all other automatics than I have driven, but seeing as they are controlled to look after the engine I would think that a snap change in a manual would be better. Much worse for the drive train, but quicker.

              But the manual V70 is not as much fun to drive, scratch that. It's not as pleasant to drive, it probably is more fun...

              My dad, who hates automatic gear boxes, even likes the ride in the V70 due to the gearbox (I'm pleased to say, it being a nice place to make a journey was one of the top reasons I brought it).

              @Ben Rose

              As for clutching at straws for the parts... Personally I think you are doing the same. You're gearbox broke. It was expensive to fix. You had bad luck, but it was fixed under guarantee. My power steering pump broke in my last car - it cost nearly a 1000 including labour to replace (Volvo rates...) Does that mean I should never buy a car with power steering again. I just think that if you have the bad luck for part of that hybrid system to break you are also going to be looking at serious cash to fix. The same as *any* other modern car.

              1. Ben Rose
                FAIL

                Re: @ Those talking about dual clutch automatics...

                Stacy,

                I don't even know where to begin but, to start with, I've never owned a dual-clutch car and certainly not had one break on me.

                I have driven a few though, from little SEATs to rather pokey Audi R8 V10s. I'm a motoring journalist, see, but I clearly will never know as much as your dad. LOL

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Handy for sneaking up on people

    And generally stalking people

    Just saying.

  8. Steve Button Silver badge

    Why don't they make the cable lockable?

    It would be so simple to make it so you plug in (deeper inside) then close the flap then lock it (with a small notch to allow the cable to poke through). Would help to stop people nicking the cable.

    1. dkjd

      Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

      I guess that its so the fire brigade can pull the cable out if the car catches fire, or there is any other sort of electrical fault requiring emergency services to disconnect the power in a hurry?

      1. Lee Dowling

        Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

        If the car catches fire, why would you approach the car rather than whatever the other end of the cable is plugged into, which will have a nice "off" switch away from the burning vehicle?

    2. Ben Rose

      Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

      Cables generally don't lock on to allow other EV owners to use the charging cable if your charging is completed long before you return to your vehicle.

      If you parked at a petrol pump, filled up and then left your car there with the nozzle in the fuel tank whilst you went shopping; that wouldn't be popular either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

        How about thinking outside the box?

        Maybe make the standard cable that comes with the car lockable by closing the flap (it can always be unplugged the other end) and one at a communal top up station larger which doesn't allow for closing the flap?

        Not too hard so I can't see that being the reason.

        1. Ben Rose

          Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

          "Maybe make the standard cable that comes with the car lockable by closing the flap (it can always be unplugged the other end) and one at a communal top up station larger which doesn't allow for closing the flap?

          Not too hard so I can't see that being the reason."

          Any owner who used one full-time (not a magazine reviewer) would have a dedicated charging point installed in their home. Most of these allow the cable to be locked at the premises end to prevent theft.

          The reviewer used an extension cable (not recommend my mnfr) which meant the domestic end of the plug was likely outside his premises and insecure.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

          How about making it like a vacuum cleaner power lead?

          Pull out to use, retract when done. Pointless to steal......

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why don't they make the cable lockable?

            "How about making it like a vacuum cleaner power lead? Pull out to use..." And more complicated to replace if it gets damaged.

            Extension lead - I bet it wasn't weatherproof either and he didn't even use an RCD...

  9. MrXavia
    FAIL

    95%... but is is a DAMN ugly car!

    and only 16 miles on electric? really? that is pathetic, not even a commute to work and back for most people..

    I'll stick to my XF Jag, which the tree huggers out there will be glad to know gets a very healthy 62.8MPG, and has less toxic metals being used in its construction than this hybrid...

    I would love to compare the environmental impact of this Prius vs a Jag over a 20 year lifespan

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lithium is not a toxic metal, and the neodymium used in DC motors is infinitely recyclable, as is the nickel and cerium in the standard Prius. For a fair comparison, you would have to consider their environmental impact over a period of several hundred years. (failure to consider this was just one of the flaws in the notorious Prius-Hummer comparison).

    2. Steve I
      Go

      Wow!

      "XF Jag, which the tree huggers out there will be glad to know gets a very healthy 62.8MPG"

      62Mpg around town! That's very impressive.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Battery

      "not even a commute to work"

      You're missing the point. It's not designed to get you ALL THE WAY to work on the battery, if it's more than 15 miles away. That's what the engine is there for.

      What it does mean is that you can get to your appropriate trunk road or motorway on battery power, then use the engine. The exhaust gases will be released in an area where they are likely to be coped with better and have less of an impact.

      Besides, the top speed on battery is something like 40mph. Once you want to go over that, the engine needs to be started anyway.

  10. Silverburn
    Thumb Down

    Close...but no cigar

    It's just about there...bump the electric range to 60-70, and drop the price to something sensible and it's a deal.

    Right now, it's 10 miles too short and 10 grand too expensive.

    Still waiting for fuel cells though...

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Close...but no cigar

      Additionally...have you seen that display? Good gahd, I could barely understand what it meant after 3 attempts while sat at my desk. A quick glance while driving? I'd have no idea what the vehicle status was!

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Close...but no cigar

        The redesign of the cabin between the Gen 2 and the Gen 3 was a backward step IMHO. With the Gen 2 you could slide from the driver's seat to the passenger's easily. Heck, you could even have a bench seat in the front if you fancied! The display was simple and clear, everything was on the MFD with just 8 mode buttons.

  11. Ben Rose

    49g CO2/km?

    The irony is that the CO2 isn't significantly lower than the non-plugin predecessor, once you take power station emissions into account.

  12. Simon Brown
    Stop

    It's just as well that building these causes no environmental impact whatsoever...

    Is it just me that wonders whether we wouldn't be better off creating kits so that we could retro-fit existing cars, rather than building new ones? Scrapping an existing car to then use up fresh resources to build new ones to reduce CO2 is potty. At the same time, we ban diesel-engined vehicles from our town centres - even if they're powered by pure vegetable oil and creating no harmful emissions...

    Is the hybrid engined car a very expensive example of green-washing?

  13. MGman
    Thumb Down

    For £30k+ couldn't they at least make these hybrids look like a classier car?

  14. MJI Silver badge

    What I find objectionable is

    Why these cars which clog the roads up and damage the road surface just like any other car pay no road tax.

    I think it is obscene.

    Yet a moped has to pay, bloody ridiculous.

    1. thegrouch

      Re: What I find objectionable is

      Yes but road tax has nothing to do with road maintenance.

    2. Ben Rose

      Re: What I find objectionable is

      Road tax is no longer the road usage charge it used to be, this is all been put into fuel duty. They are now using VED purely as an eco tax, to drive people into smaller more efficient vehicles.

      Where it fails is with EVs, which don't buy and fuel and therefore pay no fuel tax. Instead, they increase demand for domestic electricity and make it more expensive for the rest of us.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: What I find objectionable is

        Yes but why do mopeds pay it?

        1. Ben Rose

          Re: What I find objectionable is

          "Yes but why do mopeds pay it?"

          Are they environmentally friendly?

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Are they environmentally friendly?

            Very much so, my last one I had did 200mpg on a bad day back in the 70s

            The 250cc bikes I used for years would do 60mpg being thrashed and 80mpg at 80mph.

            1. Ben Rose

              Re: Are they environmentally friendly?

              "Very much so, my last one I had did 200mpg on a bad day back in the 70s

              The 250cc bikes I used for years would do 60mpg being thrashed and 80mpg at 80mph."

              Being enviromentally friendly isn't at all the same as having a high fuel economy. Common misconception.

              Scooters are noisy because a lot of engine noise is allowed to escape. This is down to the straight through exhaust on the back which has minimal filters, no Catalytic converters etc.

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Re: Are they environmentally friendly?

                But they create very little in pollutants.

                Don't know about scooters (wouldn't touch them) but my 4 stroke moped was pretty clean.

                200mpg on a bad day is what I would call clean, pity it only did about 40

  15. Nev Silver badge
    FAIL

    Yet more Uk Eco madness...

    Plug-in cars in a country where most electricity is generated by Gas/Coal: FAIL

    Hybrids: An electric car dragging a combustion engine/transmission/fuel tank around

    or a conventional car lugging electric motors and a massive battery pack around: FAIL

    Better idea would be to switch to small, highly tuned turbo petrol solution such as

    FPT's TwinAir, if you want to be eco-minded about your personal transport.

    1. Ben Rose

      Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

      If only the TwinAir delivered anything like it's claimed economy in practice.

      Agree with your first point, but hybrids do generally make things more efficient. In the case of the Prius anyway, the Ampera doesn't work too good in this area.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

      Regardless of the merits of this car, you really still think that the most energy efficient way to move a car around is the 120-year old internal combustion engine?

      Even now it's 25% efficient at best. You're exploding hydrocarbons but using only the expansion energy, wasting the generated heat. The engines are small and relatively heavy, they are slow to power up which means you've got to leave them idling even when stationary. They can only power acceleration, which means an equal amount of energy required to stop the car is wasted. Finally, they're widely distributed and there are loads of them, which means improvement, or replacement with a better technology, is expensive and time-consuming - it's the classic "last mile problem" from telecoms.

      None of this applies to electric, even if it's generated at a central station burning gas or oil - large plants are 60% efficient, and you can swap them out for renewables or nuclear as they come on line without modifying the car.

      The only advantage internal combustion has is power-density, ease of storage and the existing distribution network for hydrocarbons, but that's a tick for convenience, not for efficiency. It's like claiming copper is better than fibre optic simply because it's already run to your house.

      1. Ben Rose

        Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

        "Regardless of the merits of this car, you really still think that the most energy efficient way to move a car around is the 120-year old internal combustion engine?"

        Aha, another Robert Llewellyn reader?

        "Even now it's 25% efficient at best."

        Somewhat disagree with your figure but, even if it were true, efficiency isn't entirely important here. Crude oil has no use in the ground. When it comes out, it is used for many things such a plastic that is even used in electric cars. From those fractions, the fuel fractions have one use...as a fuel. So you claim it's 25% efficient? It's 25% efficient at converting oil that is not much use for anything else into motion. On the other hand, electricity has many uses...like powering this computer.

        " You're exploding hydrocarbons but using only the expansion energy, wasting the generated heat."

        The heat is used to warm the car, something electric cars are very inefficient at doing on a cold day. It's used to heat the catalytic converter, to reduce emissions and used to heat the oil to improve efficiency.

        "The engines are small and relatively heavy, they are slow to power up which means you've got to leave them idling even when stationary."

        Most modern cars have stop/start functions. They don't need to idle when stationary at all.

        "They can only power acceleration, which means an equal amount of energy required to stop the car is wasted."

        Most modern cars have kinetic energy recovery systems on board. In this model, it is used to charge the batteries. Enough energy is harvested to turn the engine off for 40% of a typical 40 miles journey.

        "Finally, they're widely distributed and there are loads of them, which means improvement, or replacement with a better technology, is expensive and time-consuming"

        Agreed, but the same can be said for battery improvements on EVs.

        "None of this applies to electric"

        It does.

        "even if it's generated at a central station burning gas or oil - large plants are 60% efficient, and you can swap them out for renewables or nuclear as they come on line without modifying the car.

        Efficiency in pure energy terms maybe but, as I said above, "wasting" energy stored in petrol isn't a waste. It's simply releasing energy from nature and putting it back into the world in another form. It will also be a long time before renewables/nuclear meet electricity demand and remove our dependence on fossil fuels.

        "The only advantage internal combustion has is power-density, ease of storage and the existing distribution network for hydrocarbons, but that's a tick for convenience, not for efficiency."

        Pretty much an advantage in every area then? There isn't much efficiency in not using oil supplies, considering their energy content.

        " It's like claiming copper is better than fibre optic simply because it's already run to your house."

        It's better if you don't have cable in your street ;O)

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

          Ben, I'm afraid you've missed most if not all of my points. Kinetic recovery on a modern car? Nope. On an electric hybrid yes, but not on a normal car - you need electric motors (=generators) on the wheels. And I'm not claiming fuel burned in an IC engine would be otherwise "wasted" - that's a daft argument, clearly we're going to be burning oil for many years to come. But doing so on a small scale will never be as efficient as doing so in a centralised plant.

          You could conceivably make the case for internal combustion based on the existing infrastructure, on energy density, or on ease of storage, but you can't make it based on efficiency. It is a markedly inferior technology.

          Never heard of Robert Llewellyn by the way. He sounds welsh.

          1. Ben Rose

            Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

            "Ben, I'm afraid you've missed most if not all of my points. Kinetic recovery on a modern car? Nope. On an electric hybrid yes, but not on a normal car - you need electric motors (=generators) on the wheels."

            No, you need a modified alternator anywhere on the driveshaft. They very much exist on any modern car with stop/start functionality and provide the power required to restart the engine and power A/C whilst stationary.

            "And I'm not claiming fuel burned in an IC engine would be otherwise "wasted" - that's a daft argument, clearly we're going to be burning oil for many years to come. But doing so on a small scale will never be as efficient as doing so in a centralised plant."

            Centralising power generation has some efficiency improvements but there are massive losses on the supply network (circa 10-20%). Also, there is no efficient means of storing the generated power, so it can't really be used on the move.

            "You could conceivably make the case for internal combustion based on the existing infrastructure, on energy density, or on ease of storage, but you can't make it based on efficiency. It is a markedly inferior technology."

            Efficiency is only a concern when the waste product is a true loss. It isn't here.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

              Wow, I would love to see your battery - stopping a 1500kg car once from 100km/h is about 40kj - that's a lot of energy to store, let along dump into a battery (via a rubber belt, no less) over the few seconds when you're braking. And what's the point of doing so? Without electric drive, the battery is only used for starting - there's no requirement for that energy. Maybe things are different on stop/start cars (or you live in a seriously hot climate!), but once running, a car's electrics run on the alternator. I have a feeling you're out on this one, the physics just don't stack up.

              But whatever. Efficiency should be a concern anywhere the resource is limited, so if you believe oil is a limited resource (limited as in not made by pixies, not as in running out next month) then this stuff is worth pursuing. Batting it around here is pointless, there have been plenty of studies done on the whole cycle before and I'm not saying anything controversial or even new. Google "well to wheel efficiency", if you're genuininely interested in this stuff take a look.

              Again, to reiterate, I'm just referring to efficiency (which is physics), not infrastructure (which is politics).

              1. Ben Rose

                Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

                "Wow, I would love to see your battery - stopping a 1500kg car once from 100km/h is about 40kj - that's a lot of energy to store, let along dump into a battery (via a rubber belt, no less) over the few seconds when you're braking. And what's the point of doing so? Without electric drive, the battery is only used for starting - there's no requirement for that energy. Maybe things are different on stop/start cars (or you live in a seriously hot climate!), but once running, a car's electrics run on the alternator. I have a feeling you're out on this one, the physics just don't stack up."

                Cars fitted with stop/start don't rely on a standard 12v. It would run flat far too quickly in a stop/start configuration. Instead they usually have an additionally battery in the boot charged from KERS.

                There is a massive power draw on modern cars - A/C, stereo, GPS etc - this ticks over OK when the engine is running but when the engine goes off it kills a normal 12V very quickly.

                "But whatever. Efficiency should be a concern anywhere the resource is limited, so if you believe oil is a limited resource (limited as in not made by pixies, not as in running out next month) then this stuff is worth pursuing."

                Sure, oil is potentially limited and could run out in a couple of generations time. It would be a waste not to make use of what is there though, rather than deploy terribly poor alternatives.

                "Batting it around here is pointless, there have been plenty of studies done on the whole cycle before and I'm not saying anything controversial or even new. Google "well to wheel efficiency", if you're genuininely interested in this stuff take a look"

                Yes, I wrote many of those articles on-line and in print.

                "Again, to reiterate, I'm just referring to efficiency (which is physics), not infrastructure (which is politics)."

                Comparing the local efficiency of two different fuels in rather pointless. KInda like saying that boiling a kettle is more efficient than heating up an oven. You can't exactly bake a potato in a kettle.

      2. Stacy
        Unhappy

        pedant alert...

        Sorry, but I have to correct something. Engines do not 'explode' hydrocarbons. If you do (in a petrol engine) it has the name pinking, and can cause serious damage to the engine. You burn the fuel.

        However, I agree the internal combustion engine is old, inefficient technology. But until I can load up my V70 and set off on a 1600km journey knowing that when the battery is flat it's only a short stop and I'm moving again it won't be something usable.

        Plus I want the performance of the petrol car. They may not be efficient but they can provide a lot of power almost instantly. EV's are not there yet... This Prius, despite being smaller, slipper and lighter, is still 4 seconds off of the V70 0-60 pace. Electric motors can be powerful enough, but if I understand correctly the batteries cannot release the power quick enough to propel a real sized car at any decent pace yet.

        Hopefully when the V70 is replaced in 5 years the battery / motor technology will be there so I won't need to buy another petrol car. But I am not going to hold my breath!

        1. Ben Rose

          @Stacy Re: pedant alert...

          "Sorry, but I have to correct something. Engines do not 'explode' hydrocarbons. If you do (in a petrol engine) it has the name pinking, and can cause serious damage to the engine. You burn the fuel."

          Actually, pinking isn't so bad. Detonation is the real issue. Even in controlled combustion, it is still explosive however...by definition...that's why the piston moves.

          "However, I agree the internal combustion engine is old, inefficient technology. But until I can load up my V70 and set off on a 1600km journey knowing that when the battery is flat it's only a short stop and I'm moving again it won't be something usable."

          Sounds like you're be buying the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid.

          "Plus I want the performance of the petrol car. They may not be efficient but they can provide a lot of power almost instantly. EV's are not there yet..."

          Incorrect. EVs provide the most instant power possible. They go to max torque almost instantaneously.

          "This Prius, despite being smaller, slipper and lighter, is still 4 seconds off of the V70 0-60 pace."

          Don't have the figures to hand, but this is purely down to the chosen output of the vehicle. My old Lexus hybrid was the fastest production saloon at launch...largely due to the electric motor.

          " Electric motors can be powerful enough, but if I understand correctly the batteries cannot release the power quick enough to propel a real sized car at any decent pace yet."

          Incorrect. They just run out of juice too quickly for a practical application.

          1. Stacy
            Happy

            Re: @Stacy pedant alert...

            Eek!!!

            Pinking is detonation, and it can rip the tops of the pistons and p destroy the valves if you leave an engine doing it for long enough! Modern cars don't generally have this issue as combustion is very tightly controlled by the ECU, but it's something that you need to be careful off when you have to set the car yourself - an old classic for example. I don't worry about it with the V70, but my Spitfire gets tuned regularly to ensure the timing hasn't crept out.

            And not, not all combustion is not the same as exploding. When petrol burns it expands quickly and puts pressure on the piton head to push it down, expanding all the time to keep the force on the piston throughout the stroke. When it pinks, explodes, there is an instant force on the top of the piston. This force is initially far greater and hotter causing both too much force on the bearings, piston rings etc and also causing hotspots due to the greater, more localised heat. Once the explosion has ended there is no longer force on the piston head to finish the stroke causing an imbalance in the engine - putting even more atypical stress on the components.

            If left untreated (timing change, using a different fuel, getting the compression ration checked etc) then you will do serious damage to the engine.

            If they make a V70 plug-in maybe it would be something that I would consider

            You're right, electric motors have instant, 100% torque. And yet most modern cars using them suck when comparing them to petrol engines. Same for motorbikes. At present they just can't produce the instant bang of power from the battery packs that petrol engines can do from a petrol tank. Battery technology is just not there yet. It'll get there, and I'll be happy when it does. But it's not there yet - if it was then more cars would be electric (and the ones that are available would have *much* better performance ;p)

            1. Ben Rose

              Re: @Stacy pedant alert...

              Stacy,

              I don't even know where to begin replying to that but you need to a) understand what an explosion is and b) appreciate that detonation also affect rotary engines that don't have any pistons.

              You also need to appreciate that battery tech does exactly what you talk of now, it's ready, just not required.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Nev Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Yet more Uk Eco madness...

        "Regardless of the merits of this car, you really still think that the most energy efficient way to move a car around is the 120-year old internal combustion engine?"

        Nope.

        Try reading what I posted again.

        Electric cars will be the solution. In countries that don't produce the majority of electricity from burning oil and gas.

        In the mean time, more efficient small turbo-charged petrol engines are the way to go.

        Not half-arsed eco-bling solutions like Toyota's Prius.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Nifty Silver badge
    Holmes

    when the future arrives, only one thing is inevitable - NEW TAXES!

    Right now this car is tax-efficient. There's also the London Congestion Charge to consider. Exemption can be a big money earner.

    Electric and hybrid cars are taking big leaps forward that almost mirror Moore's law.

    The improvements in petrol/diesel cars performances are only incremental by comparison.

    However, anyone who has the expectation of a low tax electrical future on the road will be very disappointed.

    Once 'leccy becomes the norm, the govt will need to top up its coffers as it does now - by taxing powered mobility big-time. Motorists are somehow a soft and inelastic target. And it will need to raise more revenue that ever since govt just cannot bring itself to shrink.

  17. Anomalous Cowshed

    The problem is weight

    They keep making cars which are supposed to be more fuel-efficient, and to do this they keep coming up with more and more efficient engines, and even technologies such as electric motors, but they keep moving the bar further and further away by making the cars more and more heavy and bulky. It seems almost like McDonalds claiming it is interested in people's health by introducing salads to their menus.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: The problem is weight

      Doesn't help when most of the weight gain is due to the battery.

      Which seems slightly circular and self-defeating.

  18. ohh nooo

    So my old Saab 93ss TTid diesel with hirsch performance upgrade is 200bhp/430Nm and does 72+Mpg on a run.

    I know which one I want.

  19. TechRyze

    VW Golf Twin Drive

    I'm waiting for the VW Golf Twin Drive next year. 50km/31 mile range, and a diesel engine instead of petrol.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: VW Golf Twin Drive

      Intermittant usage of a diesel engine with mandatory DPF?

      Good luck with that. I wouldn't spend my money, the motoring forums are already drowning in tales of expensive DPF issues. Good idea if you're commuting on a motorway, a right bloody disaster for stop/start urban use.

      1. Ben Rose

        Re: VW Golf Twin Drive @TeeCee

        "Intermittant usage of a diesel engine with mandatory DPF?"

        DPFs are not mandatory. Just one of the few ways of making dirty engines appear to be clean at the tailpipe. It is possible to make a cleaner engine that doesn't require one.

  20. 404

    Other than the steering wheel on the wrong side...

    I sense engine creep, the Prius started with a 1.5L engine, now has 1.8L? Damn Americans and their quest for more power... other than those two items and the price, not bad.

    ;)

    1. Ben Rose

      Re: Other than the steering wheel on the wrong side...

      "I sense engine creep, the Prius started with a 1.5L engine, now has 1.8L? Damn Americans and their quest for more power... other than those two items and the price, not bad."

      Toyota swapped from a 1.5litre engine to a 1.8 when the 3rd gen Prius was released. Running a large engine at lower revs proved to be more efficient than the smaller power plant at higher revs for the same output.

      The 1.8 is used in Prius, Prius+, Plug-in Prius, Auris Hybrid and Lexus CT200h. The smaller 1.5 is now in the Yaris hybrid.

      1. 404

        Re: Other than the steering wheel on the wrong side...

        85 Chevy Sprint (Geo Metro precursor) 1.0L 3cylinder carburetored engine w/5speed manual transmission 45 city/51 hwy mpg - I guarantee you it was a higher-reving engine. AC and that's about it. Very light car.

        Point is that the Prius needs a larger engine to pull it around in a manner suitable to the average driver - that feeling you could get out and push faster - with all the power -sucking accessories running. It could get better mileage, but customers demand a little power, so we get a trade-off. No one is going to buy a gutless wonder that cannot get out of it's own way.

  21. Iain Leadley
    Thumb Down

    Pointless

    What is the point in using fossil fuels to generate electricity which is inefficient and then using that to charge a battery which is inefficient. Why not just use the fossil fuel to drive the bloody car?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Pointless

      It does drive the car directly. It also runs the engine at the most efficient revolutions required to move the vehicle as requested, squirreling excess power away in the battery or topping up with electric as appropriate.

      It also scavenges energy on the overrun that your conventional vehicle chucks away as frictional losses in the engine.

      That's why. Less fuel to do the same job.

      Electrics and PHEVs have another trick up their sleeves. Your power station is an order of magnitude more efficient than your car's engine at turning fossil fuels into electricity. Even with all the losses thereafter getting it to your wheels, it still wins.

      1. Ben Rose

        @TeeCee - Re: Pointless

        "Electrics and PHEVs have another trick up their sleeves. Your power station is an order of magnitude more efficient than your car's engine at turning fossil fuels into electricity. Even with all the losses thereafter getting it to your wheels, it still wins."

        Depends how you measure efficiency. If you measure in terms of CO2 output, EV/PHV is not significantly better.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you Reg for the mileage comment

    Thank you Reg for the comment on the "138MPG" comment. That's like saying "My Grand Marquis will get 99MPG*" (* if I start out at the top of Pikes Peak and drive to Colorado Springs....). My attitude is MPG should mean "If I have n gallons of fuel, I can drive n*MPG miles before needing to refuel, for n >= 5 gal". This crap of quoting "mileage" that has nothing to do with that simple equation makes me want to pull a Saw on the person saying it - "I want to play a game. You have been poisoned. The antidote is 400 miles away. Here's your car, and 3 gallons of fuel. If you attempt to refuel the car it will explode. All you have to do is get more than 133 MPG and you will live."

    The other question in my mind is "why do the automakers not look at something like a single-spindle turbine generator" such as the Capstone turbine. Sure, you cannot mechanically drive the wheels with it, but that's the point: make something that JUST charges the batteries, and ditch all the complexity of tying anything other than an electric motor to the wheels. You can simplify the transmission (as electrics have a much wider power band than reciprocating engines), you need much less cooling system, much less lubrication system - and simplifying a car means lightening the car.

    As for the comments about "Americans don't like diesels" - WRONG. The state of California's Air Resource Board does not like diesels. They also have a large number of other requirements that prevent Californians from having the sorts of high efficiency vehicles you get over there, and since California is such a significant market, they force the rest of US to follow their rules. Add to that the various other requirements about what a US car has to be able to do - the kinds of collisions it is required to enable its occupants to survive, unbelted - and you see why these higher efficiency vehicles don't do as well here.

    1. Ben Rose

      Re: Thank you Reg for the mileage comment

      David,

      That "pull a Saw" idea is the funniest thing I've read in ages. Captures pretty well how I feel, if you need help arranging it...count me in :-D

      As for the turbine generator idea, maybe it will work one day. The closest thing to that in production is the Ampera/Volt but the charging power from its engine is insufficient to supply enough charge in the most demanding of situations. So, instead, it has to connect directly to the wheels sometimes. Until battery charging is somehow made more efficient, this will always be the case.

  23. Phil 7

    "Officially the Plug-in returns 134.5mph "

    That's not bad for an electro-slug! Think I'll stick to my RX-8 though

  24. Jim 59

    The other big elephant in the room

    "How does all this equate to economy and CO2 emissions? Officially the Plug-in returns 134.5mpg and emits 49g/km in plug-in mode and 76.4mpg and 85g/km in hybrid mode. "

    Does that include the CO2 emitted by the power station in charging the car ?

    Grid electricity generates about 525 g of CO2 for every Kwh generated. If the Toyota takes an average of 2 Kw for that 2 hour charge, that is 4 Kwh, or 2100 g of CO2. I don't know how these cars work but if you use all that charge in driving 15 miles (24 Km), you just "emitted" an extra 2100/24 = 87.5g /Km of CO2 at the power station, as well as the 49g that came out of your tailpipe.

    1. Ben Rose

      Re: The other big elephant in the room

      Indeed Jim, I touched on this above. In real terms, these are arguably less efficient than their non-plug predecessors.

      Also, 525g CO2 is an average for power generation. The effective footprint for EVs is much higher, as all the low emissions output is already allocated to existing electricity users. Over 800g CO2/kWh for coal sourced power.

  25. David Kelly 2

    Americans don't like Diesels?

    "... that only exist because Americans don’t like diesels."

    I have owned two highly smogged modern diesels newer than my 2007 Prius and I say the systems necessary to tame a diesel ARE MORE COMPLEX than a Toyota Prius. 2008 Ford F-250 Powerstroke. 2009 M-B ML320 Bluetec.

    Plus there is the problem of diesel availability. Its at plenty of pumps in the USA but there is only so much diesel available to the world. Europe EXPORTS gasoline and imports diesel to make up for the shortfall. Europe can not get enough diesel out of a barrel of crude that they find it prudent to make gasoline they don't need and export it so as to be able to buy more crude to make diesel.

    I do believe we would have been better off had government put resources behind biodiesel many years ago rather than ethanol. Also think we would be better off with simpler diesels running on cleaner fuel than with the current complexity.

    The epitome of stupidity is the use of a DPF to convert carbon soot C2 into CO2. I don't doubt large particulates are a problem in dense populations but if CO2 is a problem then I fail to see the wisdom in burning more fuel to turn relatively harmless C2 into CO2.

  26. ThePhantom

    I bought one of the first ones delivered to California and my only complaint revolves around the new audio/nav system. Rather than the 12 hard keys in the previous model, this one has far fewer and everything is on a very sloggy menu system with multiple levels before you can get to the function that you want. I have to take my eyes off the road much more often to get the same work done than I did with the previous generation.

  27. Steve I

    Well,

    lots of FUD and ignorance here but all I can say is that a cost of £5K, £10/year road tax, 50mpg whilst pottering around town and a large, relatively luxurious car with lots of equipment makes for a compelling package in our Mk1 Prius. Would definitely have another.

    Nice to drive too.

  28. The Grump
    Go

    Not there yet...

    Battery technology- and by extension, all energy storage technology - is simply not there yet. We piddle around with this battery tech, that battery tech, but what do we get ? A few more kilometers more per charge ? Pathetic ! What we need our government to do is - Create a government run, government financed think tank, with the best minds from around the world. They would have (near) unlimited funding to experiment with new technologies for energy capture and storage. Supercaps, fusion, lightning storage, maybe even something we haven't dreamed of - yet. We may even find a new Nikola Tesla out there somewhere, if we bother to look.

    Wherever they come up with, it's must be better than MY idea - Placing "bumper car" electric overhead grids over every road, and installing a pantograph or some power contact pole to reach the overhead grid on every vehicle. Then all vehicles could draw power from the overhead grid. Small batteries could power cars for short periods off-grid (driveways, parking lots, etc). Your odometer would be checked monthly, and the electric used would be billed accordingly. I would never have to change oil, or touch gas pump handles ever again.

    In the meantime, I am buying a regular Prius, 50 MPG. And NO - I - AM - NOT - RIDING - A - MOPED - EVER !!! I'm not quite ready to die yet. Too much beer out there that needs drinking !

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why review it now?

    It has been available since January...

  30. Ant Evans
    Coat

    USB

    Can you charge it over USB?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prius drivers

    Are mostly posers in my experience.

    What really winds me up is how many Priuses I see hairing down the motorway at 90-100mph (top speed). Thus completely negating any positive effects that the car's "green" credentials might bring.

    In fact, it's worse than almost any other option if they're going to use it like that! Flogging that little petrol engine at 6000rpm is burning lots of fuel and producing lots of emissions. They would have been much better off with a Diesel.

    1. Steve I
      WTF?

      Re: Prius drivers

      Seriously? Posing in a Prius? Where do you live?

  32. Alan Firminger

    "Indeed, that’s exactly what I did on a trip to Wakefield"

    From where ?

  33. Robert Moore
    Thumb Down

    no one has pointed out

    The biggest problem with this car.

    My god is it UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love the concept of electric cars. I have built two electric motorcycles and am working on my design for a car.

    But I could never drive anything this fugly.

  34. Herby

    Jewelry

    Nothing more, nothing less. Its like watches. In watches anything over about $40 or so is just status symbol jewelry. Sure you can buy a nice $multi thousand Rolex, but does it keep better time than the nice $30 or so (prices have gone up a bit since I last got a watch) simple Seiko (add about $10 for the nice Twist-o-flax watchband I like).

    Sure you can avoid silly (thankfully we don't have them here [yet] in sunny California) congestion charges, but other than that, what's the point. Given the fact that silly plug in funny stuff doesn't work for long drives (it is about 300+ miles from the bay area to the LA area), and vacations are even a bit more (I plan a trip over 1000 miles this summer), they really don't make sense.

    Of course what do I know. my Mom (bless her 94 years!) has an older Prius that she likes simply because she doesn't like going to the gas (petrol) station that much. My dad was always amazed at the fancy display that showed what energy was going where that was in the middle of the dashboard. My take (having driven it a couple of times) is that the silly one button start-stop thingy is a terrible user interface (kinda like Windows shutdown being under the 'Start' button.

    Such is life.

  35. ForthIsNotDead

    32 freaking GRAND

    Are you f**king kidding me?

    Pile of shit.

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I tried the Lexus version of this, but the constant high revving of the Atkinson cycle petrol engine was really off-putting, I'm afraid. So I'm sticking with my nice V6 3litre GS... Comfort and sophistication is more important than fuel economy.

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