Toyota has slipped some lithium-ion battery technology into its Prius. Does it make sense?
What is it?
Following the launch of the seven-seat Prius+ MPV, this is the second model which enlarges the Prius family. This is Toyota's first rechargeable full hybrid, and becomes the flagship of the Prius range.
Well, apart from the addition of the plug-in bit and some battery technology, the Prius Plug-in is largely indistinguishable from its Prius brother - save a new silvery blue paint shade, new rear lights and a set of wind-cheating alloys.
What's under the bonnet?
The Plug-in features the same 1.8-litre petrol engine as found in the 'normal' Prius, but a lithium-ion battery offers 15.5 miles of pure electric power. The car can operate in petrol, electric modes alone or both. Total power is 134bhp, with emissions of 49g/km of CO2 and combined MPG is 134.5. To get your 15.5 miles of electric range, you'll have to charge it for three hours.
What's the kit like?
There's just one spec you can choose. Standard equipment includes Toyota Touch & Go Plus system with sat nav, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, eight-speaker JBL sound-system, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control. It's priced at £27,895 after the £5k government grant.
If you really want to buy a car like the Prius Plug-in, there's few other choices. Like-for-like rivals are the larger GM twosome the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera. While they offer more pure electric drive mileage, they both cost more.
Don't think of this car as a gimmick. Our test route allowed us to experience electric power, and the switch from electric to petrol is smooth. Around town, the Prius Plug-in is zippy and agile, on the motorway it was just a little noisy.
The Autoblog Verdict
With other manufacturers joining the green party, it was obvious Toyota needed to improve its, let's be honest, lacklustre Prius. While that car is still on sale, the Plug-in makes far more sense. It's pricy compared to some eco diesels, but if customers want a Prius, it's the best one on offer.