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Malcolm Flynn | Mar 29, 2012 | 17 Comments

2012 TOYOTA PRIUS C REVIEW

Vehicle type: Light Hatch (hybrid)
Price: $23,990 | i-Tech: $26,990 (plus on-roads)

Power: 54kW petrol engine | 45kW electric motor
Combined system output: 74kW
Torque: 111Nm petrol engine | 169Nm electric motor

Fuel efficiency: 3.9 l/100km | 3.7 l/100km (Urban) | 3.8 l/100km (Extra urban)
Fuel efficiency on test: 4.1 l/100 km (normal driving)

 

OVERVIEW

Toyota’s new Prius c hybrid is the first step in expanding the Prius nameplate from a single-model ‘enviro' halo car, to a multiple model halo sub-brand.

Prius c Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso describes the c as ‘younger, smaller, and a little more feisty’ than the existing Prius.

In a nutshell, the Prius c builds on the green credentials of the first three generations of Prius, but adds a dash of design funk, improved function, and value.

This value includes a new Australian hybrid low price, with the entry Prius c priced at $23,990 - some $6000 less than the previous price-leading Honda Insight, and $10,000 less than the newly re-priced larger Prius.

We drove both the base Prius c and the higher spec $26,990 Prius c i-Tech at Toyota’s Australian launch on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

The drive included a mix of urban trundle, and twisty hinterland entertainment.

 

Interior

2012 toyota prius c launch event malcolm flynn 05

Toyota touts the Prius c as ‘the compromise-free hybrid’, and there’s merit to this claim. The new baby showcases several unexpected packaging triumphs.

These include greater legroom than the Corolla, more headroom than the Prius and the Corolla (despite lower roofline than the Yaris), and a near Yaris-matching 260 litre cargo capacity with the rear seat upright.

The Yaris lacks the Prius c’s full-sized spare wheel however, which is also a first for any Prius model.

This larger cargo capacity has been largely achieved by moving the hybrid system’s batteries from their traditional location beneath the cargo floor, to beneath the rear seat.

This is where the fuel tank is also mounted, but Toyota has managed to maintain a useful 36 litre fuel capacity.

There are a total of 17 storage compartments throughout the cabin, including the now-expected bottle holders in the doors.

The monitor screen for the hybrid system has now moved to an individual screen ahead of the driver, and includes several running cost analysis modes, including an ‘Eco Score’ mode, which challenges the driver to improve their long-term driving efficiency via a rating out of 100.

Both models are also equipped with generous modern convenience and connectivity features.

The i-Tech is distinguished by all-black soft-touch dash trim and vegan-friendly synthetic leatherette seat and steering wheel trim, along with the inclusion of satnav in the standard model’s 6.1” touchscreen MMI.

 

On The Road

Out on the road, the Prius c delivers on Toyota’s promise of meeting the needs of a city car buyer, with the hybrid benefits as a bonus.

Prius c uses an evolution of the 1.5 litre drivetrain used in the previous second-generation Prius, but with thorough improvements to the hybrid system which have made the components both smaller and more efficient.

It’s no hot hatch, but it offers better acceleration and hill climbing ability than a current Yaris auto.

Prius c also weighs less than 100kg more than the Yaris, despite being 110mm longer overall and carrying the hybrid system.

The 1.5 litre engine is pretty gruff at higher RPM, but is only an issue under heavy throttle (which does little for your Eco Score).

Around town though, the c exhibits traditional refined semi-electric Prius motoring, with the electric motor assisting for confident acceleration from slow speeds.

Cabin NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) is also surprisingly well isolated, despite an emphasis on lightweight materials during development.

toyota prius c australia 02 i tech 03

The Prius c weighs 250kg less than the larger Prius, which results in a urban fuel consumption figure of 3.7l/100km (down 0.2), which is a new best figure for Toyota.

On the extra urban cycle, Prius c matches the larger Prius’ 3.9l/100km figure, largely due to the Prius c’s slightly less aerodynamic (but more space efficient) design.

Over the rather spirited drive route, the trip computer displayed a constant 4.1l/100km.

 

First Drive Verdict

With the new Prius c, Toyota has come up with a car with broader appeal than the regular Prius.

Its $10,000 lower starting point puts it well within reach of those considering a small car purchase.

The c is smaller than a Corolla or a Mazda3, but its brilliantly packaged interior makes it a real alternative.

The entry level c is also a mere $2600 more than a similarly specced automatic Yaris YRX. Considering the extra capability, refinement, and efficiency the c offers, the extra investment is well worth it.

Given its capability, value, and 'green' efficiency, the Prius c is, straight off the bat, good buying.

 

Pricing

  • 2012 Toyota Prius C - $23,990
  • 2012 Toyota Prius C i-Tech - $26,990

Note: prices are Manufacturer's List Price and do not include on-road costs, which vary from state to state.

The Prius C is covered by Toyota Service Advantage with a capped price of $130 for each of up to six scheduled services in the first three years or 60,000km. As always, conditions apply, so speak with your dealer.

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