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Toyota Prius - SA launch

Broadcast dates : 13th March 2005
17th March 2005


Itís arguable whether itís going to be the looks or the ground-breaking hybrid technology that establishes Toyotaís Pruis in this market. It was styled in-house in Japan, but thereís plenty of Californian and European influence from Toyotaís design studios around the world.

Hybrid Synergy Drive refers to the petrol and electric engines that are linked side-by-side in the engine bay.

The low-emissions petrol engine produces 57 kiloWatts, and the electric motor adds another 50 kiloWatts. Thatís a total of 107 kiloWatts, and performance is nifty.

Silent running is an attribute, but the big marketing noise for Prius is its environmental cleanliness. It has been calculated that driving a Prius from Durban to Tokyo produces fewer emissions than using a bottle of nail polisher remover!

Many car companies are working on hybrids, but the Prius is by far the most successful to date, with over two-hundred-thousand built since the first Prius debuted in 1997. This is the second-generation Prius, and it now has an impressive cabin specification.

The Prius will spend most of its working life using both engines. The switch to the petrol motor is seamless, thanks to advanced electronics.

And when you lift off the accelerator, the battery is automatically recharged as the electric engine switches polarity.
There are some controversial aspects regarding the car. Toyota are only leasing, and not selling them at this stage.

And because of the high aluminum content in the floor pan and suspension, Toyota say they are not to be driven on dirt roads if at all possible.

Toyota reserves the right to cancel the lease contract if any abuse has been found, which is why we drove so slowly to our filming location.

Toyota Prius
  • Engines: Four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol, 1 497 cc Permanent magnet electric, 500 Volt
  • Power: 57 kW @ 5 000 rpm (petrol) 50 kW @ 1 200 rpm (electric)
  • Torque: 115 Nm @ 4 000 rpm (petrol) 400 Nm @ 0-1 200 rpm (electric)
  • Transmission: CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission, cone and belt type), front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 10,9 seconds
  • Top speed: 170 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 4,3 litres/100 km
  • Price: R5 000 (approx) per month, four-year lease contract

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