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Dave Humphreys

Review: The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is one flexible motor

The improved electric driving range makes the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid in interesting proposition.

THE TOYOTA PRIUS Plug-in Hybrid is built on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform as the hybrid Prius.

The plug-in Prius can be spotted by its large, blacked-out grille and narrow LED lights at the front and its redesigned bumper that houses the reverse lights, funky LED lighting cluster that wraps around the boot and dual-wave rear window. I think the car looks sharp and it really turned heads especially in this glistening ‘Spirited Aqua’ colour.

Apart from the plug-in being a few inches longer, both cars have the same dimensions.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The point of the plug-in is that it offers greater flexibility compared to the hybrid as it features the benefits of an electric vehicle (EV) combined with the range of a petrol engine.

The Prius Plug-in can travel in EV mode (using only battery power) for around 50km (30 miles). I managed 50.6km. When the battery depletes the petrol engine seamlessly kicks in. The engine will also start when the throttle is wide open, or at when the car is travelling at high speeds – max speed in EV mode is 135km/h (54mph).

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

However, drivers can choose to run the car in EV City mode, which reduces maximum power output and the engine is only started when throttle kick-down is engaged - allowing the car to run on electric power alone for as long as possible.

There is also a Battery Charge mode which uses the engine to generate electricity to charge the battery while driving in HV mode. HV combines the power delivered by the engine and electric motors, allowing the car to operate as a full hybrid. Like I said, it is quite a flexible vehicle.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

When in EV mode the car is relaxing and quiet and has that lovely instant smooth acceleration typical of EVs. When the four-cylinder petrol engine kicks in, it too is smooth and refined; however that E-CVT gearbox does whine when pushed. There is also some tyre noise but overall the cabin is well insulated and that really does add to the lovely ambience.

The ride quality is good too. The car does feel heavy thanks to those batteries and it’s not exciting to drive. It is, however, easy to drive – the steering is decent and well weighted and you feel rather safe in it when behind the wheel.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The main reason for buying the plug-in though are its low running costs – it is just €170 a year to tax and as most daily drives are less than 20km it means you can effectively run on EV mode and recharge the battery for free at a public charger or charge it up at home every second night for a couple of Euro.

The battery can be fully charged in two hours when using the Type II Mode III Mennekes connector, or three hours 10 minutes using a standard household plug socket.

To give you some real world figures: At the start of the week, fully charged with a full tank of petrol, the car had a range of 919km. During my week-long test drive, I travelled 50.6km in EV mode and a total of 146.6km.  The range left was 833km and the fuel economy was 2.9 litres/100km (97mpg). I think that’s pretty good going.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid starts at €37,125 and is also available in Solar trim (€39,550) and Luxury trim (€40,390).

Standard features include 15-inch bi-tone grey and silver alloy wheels, LED rear light guide, dusk sensor, rain sensor, power-retractable door mirrors, Smart Entry & Start System, heated front seats and a 4.2-inch infotainment display with sat-nav.

Safety and driver aids include Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Adaptive Automatic High Beam, Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Stop Functionality, Road Sign Assist and a rear-view camera.

Dave Humphreys Dave Humphreys

Overall, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is a very relaxing and smooth car with a flexible drive train giving you the low running costs and lower emissions of an electric vehicle combined with the longer range of a petrol engine.

READ: Driving safety: How to avoid injuries from deploying airbags >

READ: Review: the SEAT Ibiza FR is fast, fun and frankly hard to beat >

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