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First Drive

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

£25,240 when new
Published: 15 Jan 2007
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • BHP

    136bhp

  • 0-62

    10.4s

  • CO2

    92g/km

  • Max Speed

    112Mph

  • Insurance
    group

    15E

I've seen some motoring writers whom I respect as drivers try to reverse park and been heavily shocked by the ugliness of the result.

I'll put my hand up and say I'm pretty rubbish at it too, often ending up about five nautical miles from the kerb or at a dim angle, or both. Maybe the new auto-park system on the Prius can help.

It's called 'Intelligent Park Assist', yours for £400 on the top-spec Prius T-Spirit. It will have to be very intelligent to help me, mind.

Automatic parallel parking in the Prius goes something like this: drive past the space and stop alongside the car you want to park behind. Engage reverse. An image from the reversing camera will appear on the central screen on the dash - you see a rectangle drawn on the screen. This shows where the car will park, and you have to move it around.

It's coloured green if the car thinks it's able to get there, red if it doesn't like it. This is the bit you need to get used to; with practice, you can move the box quickly to place it in the space, but your car needs to be in the correct position first.

Placing that infernal box may take longer than drivers behind are prepared to put up with. But your speed improves with practice. Agree to a warning about checking the area and not getting tangled up in the spinning steering wheel, then let the car roll back in reverse. Control the speed with the brakes. Now it starts to get weird.

The 'wheel spins frantically to guide the car into the space, one way then the other, and you watch your progress on the screen. Go too fast and you get a warning beep. Well, I had to find out! Once the car is almost straight, a voice tells you that auto park is finished, and you move forward manually.

After an hour, I was able to get consistent. The key is placing the rectangle accurately. Get it wrong and the nose will clip the car in front, or you'll end up stuck halfway-in. the constant beeping is annoying, and I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't use it. Some might, though. Some might.

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