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First Drive

Road Test: Toyota Prius 1.8 VVTi T Spirit 5dr CVT Auto

£25,240 when new
Published: 12 Jun 2009


  • BHP


  • 0-62


  • CO2


  • Max Speed


  • Insurance


Celebrities be warned - there's a brand new Toyota Prius to spark off a whole new holier-than-thou war among yourselves.

The good news for the hair-shirt brigade is that it's even more environmentally friendly than before. CO2 is now 89g/km and the combined fuel figure is 72.4mpg. Impressive stuff for a genuine five-seater.

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The trouble is that, as before, the practical everyday running doesn't quite match up to the theory. On a long-ish motorway stint, we only managed 55.7mpg, which is nowhere near that target figure.

Toyota has replaced the old 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 1.8-litre motor to try and make it better at these longer and faster journeys, but a modern diesel is still far better. Where this Prius is better though is from a refinement point of view. Tyre noise is a problem, but the buzziness you got in the old one has been virtually eliminated. It'll keep up with motorway traffic fine as well.

There's still an electric-only mode, which is OK-ish for town work but still allows the petrol engine to cut in too early, but there are now two new driving modes. Most people will leave it in Eco-mode for most of the time because that's why you buy a Prius after all, but the power mode sharpens up the throttle to make overtaking a bit easier. It also boosts power to give you the full 134bhp - hardly dramatic stuff but it does accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds.

But none of this is really important in the Prius. It's what it stands for, what it allows people to think of you. And for that, it still scores highly.

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