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benw123

Feedback From New Prius Launch

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I attended the new Prius launch event at the Longcross test facility last night, and just wanted to write some feedback on what I thought of the new car, and the event in general.

First of all, Toyota GB really pushed the boat out with the launch. There were at least 30 new Prius models, all finished in white, which matched the huge outdoor white "globes" that the presentations were given in. There was a main auditorium with three smaller globes at each side, all with a white Prius inside, and after a presentation by John Williams, Commercial Director of Toyota GB, we were split into six groups. Three of these went outside to test drive the car, and the other three were each given a smaller briefing by other Toyota staff and we later swapped over. This briefing detailed different aspects of the changes to the new car, such as the technology, fuel efficiency and packaging.

It was nicely done and very interesting, if a little clinical. What I mean is that everything about the new car was detailed in numbers. 10% extra here, 20% more this, 5% less that. Indeed, inside the main globe were big, pale turquoise circles with the key numbers "136bhp", "89g/km" and "72.4mpg". Still, they do stack up, and the fact that the existing prices have been carried over - now with zero road tax and a lower insurance group - the numbers do make a lot of sense.

Proof is in the pudding of course and it was great to have around 3-4 miles behind the wheel. The idea was to demonstrate the new driving modes of the Prius, and each time the fuel economy display was reset. The couple in my car did two laps each of the high speed bowl in normal mode, returning around 45-50mpg (they were going for it and didn't drive particularly economically), and then the same route in Eco mode which returned around 60mpg. Eco mode dulls the throttle response and "optimises" the air conditioning for greater economy, and it really works. My stint was on the twisty section of track where I did just over 70mpg in normal mode, and then a staggering 77mpg in Eco. I was driving as gently as possible - as I might sometimes do in and out of London - but these are sensational figures. Even allowing for the slightly optimistic numbers from the computer as you usually get, you're still looking at the high 60s at least.

But how does it drive? Really well. Perhaps it was the car's design but you appear to sit much lower in the cabin while visibility remains good. It drives similarly to the existing car but refinement is certainly up a couple of notches. It felt very solid and surefooted, especially on the high-speed track, while the steering felt good too. The brakes have lost the slightly snatchy feel at low speeds, and the new Prius also seems to coast further as I found when slowing down to the changeover zone. Clearly rolling resistance has been improved.

Cabin quality is also another area of improvement. I think it's a shame Toyota have gone for a more traditional dashboard layout - I love the decluttered look of the current model - but the newer version is undeniably made from better materials and brimming with features. The head-up display works well, and in T-Spirit models shows sat nav instructions, while the multi-function display we're currently used to has evolved into a more complex setup consisting of three different displays. I'm sure it's something new owners will get used to.

One final point to make: Jason Dawe, who was one of the original Top Gear presenters with Jeremy Clarkson and James May in the revamped series before Richard Hammond took over, was also presenting. He can be seen on ITV's Used Car Roadshow amongst other things, and also writes in the press as well. I remembered on the way home that he'd co-written a well-known article about the current Prius when it was driven with a BMW 520d to the Geneva Motor Show to see which was more frugal. The BMW won, and at one point in the journey, the Prius ran out of fuel and Jason wrote about how he'd had to use EV mode at 30mph while looking for a petrol station. How ironic then that he was full of enthusiasm for the new model; you never bite the hand that feeds you...

Overall it was a fantastic experience and I have high hopes for the new model. It deserves every success and as an ownership proposition, it's going to be hard to make a case against it.

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No, unfortunately not. There's a few on the boat coming from Japan though, and they did have the only new Prius in the UK with a leather interior!

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Many thanks for a great write up.

When you say the "couple in my car" are you saying that you had to share the experience on the road with other people? I am thinking that if I am going to be with my partner and there is another couple in the car too as well as a Toyota rep it's going to be very snug with 5 up and difficult to really enjoy the experience??

Could you claify the set up as I am going tomorrow (Sat 27th)

Many thanks

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No, unfortunately not. There's a few on the boat coming from Japan though, and they did have the only new Prius in the UK with a leather interior!

That'll be because the Moon roof is so heavy they can only put a limited number on the boat :P

+1 on the write up. Sounds like you enjoyed the event, and I would guess the test drive time went by far too quickly?

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Many thanks for a great write up.

When you say the "couple in my car" are you saying that you had to share the experience on the road with other people? I am thinking that if I am going to be with my partner and there is another couple in the car too as well as a Toyota rep it's going to be very snug with 5 up and difficult to really enjoy the experience??

Could you claify the set up as I am going tomorrow (Sat 27th)

Many thanks

Yes, I had to share it with a married couple - sorry for the ambiguity. I visited the event on my own. The majority of the couples had the cars to themselves, but in my drive at least, they still drove the same amount of time - they did two laps of the high-speed bowl each, and I did two drives of the twisty track (which was more involving). No cars had more than three visitors plus one Toyota employee.

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+1 on the write up. Sounds like you enjoyed the event, and I would guess the test drive time went by far too quickly?

To be fair to Toyota, they had a lot crammed in and the event was only two hours long. It would have been nice to have more time driving but I didn't feel short-changed either.

I meant to add that all visitors got a canvas "bag for life" with lots of leave pieces in it, including an extremely detailed book on the new car.

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Yes, I had to share it with a married couple - sorry for the ambiguity. I visited the event on my own. The majority of the couples had the cars to themselves, but in my drive at least, they still drove the same amount of time - they did two laps of the high-speed bowl each, and I did two drives of the twisty track (which was more involving). No cars had more than three visitors plus one Toyota employee.

Thanks for your speedy reply :)

Fingers crossed for just us + Toyota rep in car :P

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Did you happen to notice what tyres are on the Prius? Just wondering what Toyota chose to put on as default.

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Did you happen to notice what tyres are on the Prius? Just wondering what Toyota chose to put on as default.

Unfortunately I didn't! The T-Spirit comes with nice 17" wheels which actually knock the economy down to 70mpg from 72.4mpg. Note that the T3 and T4 models have smaller 15" wheels from the current model - they don't look great to be honest.

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The current (Gen II) models have 16" alloys. The Americans I believe had 15" on the standard model and 16" on the Touring edition.

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Thanks for all the wheel info, I am aware of the wheel and tyre sizes, I'm just curious what brand/model of tyres they chose, since I doubt many of the "Eco" model tyres are available in 17".

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Did you happen to notice what tyres are on the Prius? Just wondering what Toyota chose to put on as default.

Unfortunately I didn't! The T-Spirit comes with nice 17" wheels which actually knock the economy down to 70mpg from 72.4mpg. Note that the T3 and T4 models have smaller 15" wheels from the current model - they don't look great to be honest.

T4 comes with the 17", it's just the T3 on 15" unless Toyota GB has just changed the spec again? ;)

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Have to say I came away from the Longcross event yesterday deeply impressed with the new Prius.

It was very well organised professionally run with very likeable Toyota reps. Chris Piper aka "Pipes" from the "Used Car Road Show" was also one of the guys carrying out talks and answering any questions.

I was amazed at the refinement of the car and the undetectable transision between petrol and electric. It was very smooth on it's 17" wheels (much smoother than my A3) and very quiet. Even when I was told to floor it the engine really was very quiet. As my partner was a non driver I had about 30 minutes driving time. Some of that time was around the faster bowl circuit and some around the windy hilly section. My best consumption in ECO mode was 69.9mpg and it didn't take much to get that figure. On my last stint in normal mode and driving just as I would I got 59.8 mpg. My worst was 56 mpg. Compare to the 30-32 I get out of my car they are fantastic figures.

It felt like a real quality car and even though it hasn't got the plush soft touch plastics of my car, they all felt of a very high quality and were very well put together. All the cars there were T4 & T Spirit, with one T3 which was used as a parked car in the IPA test. They had a T Spirit with the syle pack & leather, neither option I will be ordering. The chrome detailing looks too aftermarket and the standard fabric seat covering is beautiful, almost like Alcantara.

Really looking forward to test driving one in a few weeks on familiar roads. It may even be the one I drove yesterday as all of the cars there are going into dealerships as demonstrators.

If any of you are going to the event in MIRA I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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I'm sorry to repeat myself, but you didn't happen to notice what tyres they got on the 17" (brand/model)?

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I'm sorry to repeat myself, but you didn't happen to notice what tyres they got on the 17" (brand/model)?

Sorry no

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I wonder if I could please ask a few questions of those people lucky enough to have driven the new Prius.

I note that during during your test drives you took the car out on a 'fast bowl circuit', with this in mind, how do you think the car will cope with motorway driving? Do you think the new 1.8 is an improvement in this regard to the 1.5 litre engined Prius's? Quieter, smoother, less strained, your impressions will be greatly appreciated.

Do you feel there is any increase in passenger space over the Gen 2 Prius? You will have to excuse me, I've never driven in a Prius :o, I know shame on me. You were travelling three or four up, is there plenty of space? From the little I have seen of the inside of the current Prius it certain seems spacious.

Now a more general question. The CVT gearbox. I have to admit I am very weary of them.

I drove a regular auto, for a few years, a few years ago and loved it.

Do you have to adjust your driving style to the CVT? Not that you would, but I guess the CVT doesn't like the throttle being mashed hard because, from what I have read, that would send the engine revs soaring. From this I infer that the CVT likes a lighter, more progressive, more consistant throttle action.

For what it's worth, from what I have seen on the web, on youtube and in mags, the 17" wheels look much nice than the 15" ones, IMHO ;) . With that in mind I can live with a slight drop in fuel economy. :lol:

Anyway, thank you :thumbsup:

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I think the new Prius will be a very acomplished motorway cruiser as it is extremely comfortable and very very quiet. Even when I was told to floor it (not something I am used to doing) the engine was a lot quieter than I thought it would be and definately quieter than my A3 at full throttle.

As for rar leg room, I am 6 foot and I can sit behind me with plenty of room to spare and I was ok for head room too, which is always a problem from me.

As for the gearbox I can not comment on the technicalities as from what I understand from the guys on Prius Chat that it isnt a CVT in the conventional sense, but I am sure someone with more "Prius Tech" knowledge. I had a CVT when I had an A4 Cab and I loved it. The complete lack of physical gears changing is amazing. That is one of the things that really impressed me when I drove the Prius - the total smoothness of the whole HSD.

Agreed about the wheels, I am going for a T Spirit when the time comes :)

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Thank you very much Stepppy. :thumbsup:

:g: You've given me a lot to think about....in a happy way :D

I had a quick read through the some of the first drive / owners reviews of the Gen 3 Prius, on Prius Chat, last night and from what I could see it was all good stuff and positive comments.

Right, I wonder how much loose change is down the back of the sofa? :lol:

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I'd urge a little caution over those amazing mpg figures, the mpg was being reset before each test drive, so the figures will look much better than they ought to - my Gen II started off at 70 mpg a few weeks ago when I reset it. It will be interesting to see what the Gen III real world mpg values are across multiple tanks of petrol in both winter and summer seasons.

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I'd urge a little caution over those amazing mpg figures, the mpg was being reset before each test drive, so the figures will look much better than they ought to - my Gen II started off at 70 mpg a few weeks ago when I reset it. It will be interesting to see what the Gen III real world mpg values are across multiple tanks of petrol in both winter and summer seasons.

I agree with the comment about resetting the trips.

My A3 has two trip computers, one is an overall average which remains until reset, the other automatically resets after 2 hours of non use. The best run to work I can get on a very good day with minimal delays is 37MPG absolute max, so if I get 50MPG I will be very happy. On a run to London with climate control on and not going over 70MPH I can just squeeze 40MPG out it. The guys in the US seem to be getting very achievable results even without hypermiling techniques.

I am very much looking forward to driving a Demonstrator in a few weeks on roads which I know and being able to drive exactly how I want to, rather than being told, try ECO, EV, POWER, floot it etc. That will be a good test I think :D

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Just returned from my trip to MIRA in Nuneaton to drive the new Prius, and I have to say I am very impressed. AS the OP stated the event is very professionally done, you ARE herded around a bit, by my group was the last of the day and the numbers were small, so plenty of chance to chat and ask questions. 7 colours to be available, 2 flat colours, white and black, 5 metallic, burgundy, dark blue, 2 shades of silver and...oh bugger forgot the last, poss keeping the grey? Electric powered and heated mirrors are IN, but not folding. Auto wipers are IN on T4 and T spirit, no lane assist at all :angry: Smart key and start on all models, but T3 only has it on drivers door. 15" wheels on sunroof option look horrible I have to say, but 17" are very nice. Sunroof is electric and slides back externally as well as tilts.

Driving it was very good indeed, much less body roll, throttle a lot more responsive now, none of that delay when you accelerate from rest, ABS brakes are astonishingly good, 55mph to stop in a VERY short space of time(and distance), the good lady with us, let myself and the gent I was with have at least 3 goes each which was great fun! The steering seems to have been sharpened up a lot as well, as proven by a slalom test. Interior feels roomier than present, even though as the driver you are 'hemmed in' a little by that centre console. the HUD works very well, as does the touch tap controls for the steering wheel, very clear, very good. As mentioned previously, the fuel consumption seems much improved, but, old cynic as I am, I will only be happy if I had one for a few days so I could do my own tests.

All in all, a worthy successor, and I wish I could get one now lol! As it is, I still have 3 years before my company one is up for renewal *large sigh*

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I was at the 13:30 slot at MIRA and I thoroughly enjoyed the time. It was interesting to see that MOST of the people who turned up were middle class, Telegraph reading pensioners. I felt very young at 46! There was a miserable old git on his own who should have stayed at home. Fawn trousers pulled up to his stomach and constantly moaning. As others have already said the car is very impressive through the bends and blatting along the straights. It's deffo more capable than the Gen 2 by a mile. Practically zero body roll although I tried to roll it through the chicanes by howling the tyres the whole way along. :rolleyes: Braking is very impressive. I managed to just hit 59mph on the short straight before diving on the brakes. The car didn't move an inch off its straight line.

Feature wise it's generally very good but I wish we had the LED fronts. Quite a number of people have mentioned this to Toyota GB who are considering future options. Currently the LED's would be an extra £900 to fit so GB have dropped them...for now. The lack of iPod / iPhone connectivity is also a poor decision to omit. A 3.5mm jack on its own is practically useless. I want a USB port so I could connect using a 'Y' cable and benefit from charging on the go and getting music data displayed too. Currently the HDD music box allows you to 'burn' your CDs to the car's HDD. Why would you want that apart from not clogging the car up with loose CDs?

I've already driven the car last month for almost 2 hours and today was just the icing on the cake by allowing me to safely test acceleration, hard handling and braking. With a much improved quality, smoothness, power, economy and generally more mainstream act over the Gen 2 it makes a compelling car for everyone to consider and not just eco or techy junkies. I'm the latter by the way. ;)

The hessian shopping bag with Prius motif and an assortment of Prius stuff inside was a nice going-away present. Food and drink quality was good too.

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Thank you very much Mkuk0 and Habu for your great reviews. :thumbsup:

Really would have liked to see all the different colours lined up together. Choicing a colour is proving a (nice :D ) problem. :unsure:

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I went to the 10am session in Nuneaton on Saturday, and agree that it was very well executed by Toyota.

My son, who is 20 was the youngest (they kept asking ' are you old enough to drive?'!), but I too felt very young when surrounded by such seniority in age. Shame that we also had some whiners in the group who moaned about many aspects of the car.

The car is an excellent next step for Prius, being in the main an evolutionary rather than revolutionary step. It has more room (we had 5 in the car and I didn't feel cramped in the back, mind you we find our current Prius just fine with 5 in the car), and is much more refined to drive, smoother, more powerful and lets hope more economical.

The equipment level is catching up with competing non-hybrids but there are some shocking omissions.

My biggest disappointment wasn't with the car (I would order one tomorrow!) but it is that they have continued with 5 digit (rather than 7 digit) post codes for the navigation. This really is poor for a 2009/2010 model, and is a pain in the neck in the current car.

I was also disappointed that they haven't (yet) included an option for a self dimming rear view mirror. Like Stompe, I have an aftermarket unit imported from NA that clips over the non-dipping mirror, but I was hoping that the new Tspirit would have included this feature. I am similarly disappointed that the door mirrors don't fold either.

Who makes these decisions on our behalf (you + me that is, the intended customers !!).

For those that didn't spot the make, the new smart looking 17" wheels were fitted with Bridgestone Turanza tyres (again) -- apparently gifted to 'the' factory for the new cars by Bridgestone. The toyota rep there did say that Michelins were recommended rather than the harder japanese tyres BUT...

I will say that again...BUT

When pressed he told me that he had been told this by ONE of the attendees who had done his own tests, so not too conclusive in my view.

During the track test, the instructor advised on the use of the 'B' Setting. He recommended using this to slow down when leaving motorways etc, but to switch back to 'D" as you set off (ie dont leave in 'B'). Use of 'B' ensures that the kinetic energy from slowing down though the engine is transferred into Battery energy.

So, very nice event, Excellent car, but it is shame that some people cant just have a good time rather than use the event as a 'platform'. Also Toyota need to work on age demographics a bit !

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