The Prius PHEV was the deserved winner of the 2018 Continental Irish Green/ Efficient Car Award.
It marks Toyotas move from Hybrid to Plug-In Hybrid that is the path to the all-electric vehicles we’ll all be driving soon. The car has a bold, daring look - all edgy and sporty - and retains the different look already associated with the Prius.
Following a full 2hr plug-in charge the battery will allow about 45kms of real world driving. I nearly got into work without using any petrol and for regular, repeat journeys you could easily commute without using petrol if you stay under 132km/hr. over that, the petrol engine starts.
Once drivers get used to that it’s only a matter of time before mass migration to electric is complete.
My Luxury version, costing €40,390, had every option a modern car can offer. The PHEV sacrifices a rear seat and boot space to accommodate the bigger batteries and this needs to be thought through to ensure it meets your requirements. Inside, it’s very tastefully finished.
Toyota mustn’t want you to use the heated seats as it is a Krypton Factor challenge to find the control switches and then they are labeled incorrectly for RHD models. Another oddity is the electric connection flap that is a push to open affair whereas the petrol one is opened by a lever from inside.
The PHEV’s real treat is its levels or quietness and refinement. In electric-only mode this is expected yet when the 1.8l petrol engine kicks in it remains quiet.
When driving, it takes a while to dissociate the engine sound from the progress on the road as there is a bit of a disconnect.
You also get fancy energy recovery when braking to capture electric energy.
The interior layout is hi-tech with a split screen for all manner of control and information that’s nearly approaching overload.
The PHEV can only be charged with a home charger and this is a drawback when visiting friends if you need a quick top-up and you can’t use a 13Amp socket to charge.
You get various engine modes to encourage eco driving. I recorded 4.0ltrs per 100kms (1.2 claim Toyota), one of my best ever. The Prius PHEV gave me with my first real “Ronseal” moment when it comes to real world fuel economy and confirms the Irish Car of the Year jurors got it right.