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Future models - Toyota - Prius C

Toyota projects 3.7L/100km fuel economy for Prius C

Sipper: The Toyota Prius C will be Australia’s most frugal petrol-powered car, as well as the most frugal with an automatic transmission.

Yaris-based Toyota Prius C hybrid unlikely to match Fiesta Econetic for economy

Toyota logo17 Jan 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

TOYOTA’S light-sized Prius C hybrid hatch will become Australia’s most fuel-efficient non-plug-in vehicle in city driving when it hits local roads from early April.

However, it is unlikely to overhaul Ford’s similarly sized, diesel-powered Fiesta Econetic as Australia’s most frugal car overall.

The Japanese brand has released a projected ADR city-cycle consumption figure of 3.7 litres per 100 kilometres for its upcoming Yaris-sized hatch, based on results from overseas tests.

In comparison, the manual-only Fiesta manages 3.6L/100km on the combined cycle, which factors in both city and highway driving conditions.

While combustion-engined cars such as the Fiesta record lower consumption levels in extra-urban driving than in stop-start city conditions, official Prius C consumption figures from the United States indicate the opposite is the case for Toyota’s baby hybrid.

Toyota in the US quotes official combined figures of 4.7L/100km (4.4 in the city, 5.1 on the highway), although expect this to be lower in Australia due to slightly different testing criteria.

The larger and heavier conventional Prius hatch (1370kg compared to 1125kg for the Prius C) has an official Australian city-cycle consumption figure of 3.9L/100km – exactly the same as its combined figure.

8 center imageLeft: US-spec Prius C. Below: Prius V people-mover.

Should the Prius C mirror the achievement of its bigger brother and achieve a combined reading of 3.7L/100km, it would shade diesel-powered Euro hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion and Mini Cooper D – both of which have official readings of 3.8L/100km.

Forthcoming plug-in hybrid vehicles like the Holden Volt are not included in the comparison as they have the ability to be powered up by external charging points.

Toyota recently announced official Prius C pricing in the US of below $US19,000 ($18,300) – approximately $4500 cheaper than the standard Prius.

The base automatic Prius currently kicks off at $34,990 in Australia, meaning a sub-$30,000 sticker price could be on the cards here.

The manual Fiesta Econetic retails for $24,990, while the larger Golf BlueMotion and similarly sized Mini Cooper D sell from $28,990 and $34,800 respectively when fitted with manual gearboxes.

The cheapest hybrid car currently on sale here is Honda’s Insight five-door hatch, which kicks off at $29,990, while the same brand’s sportier CR-Z hybrid coupe starts at $34,990 plus on-road costs.

Toyota has adapted its familiar Hybrid Synergy Drive system from the standard Prius, redesigning the major components to make them smaller, lighter and more efficient.

The Yaris-sized car uses a version of the Atkinson cycle petrol engine from the conventional Prius, trimmed back from 1.8 litres in the Prius to 1.5 litres in the C.

This engine is paired with an electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and a continuously variable automatic transmission as standard.

Total output for the system is 74kW, down from 100kW in the standard Prius, although power-to-weight ratios are roughly the same (65.7 kW per tonne and 72.9 kW per tonne respectively).

Clever packaging, including locating key drivetrain components within the chassis, is also said to have maximised interior space.

For instance, the hybrid battery and fuel tank are positioned together beneath the rear seat, distributing their mass within the wheelbase to bring about claimed improvements in weight distribution and roominess.

The Prius C will arrive in Australia with a suite of standard safety equipment including seven airbags, stability/traction control, anti-skid brakes with brake assist, hill-start assist and front seatbelt force-limiters.

The Prius range is set to further expand beyond the conventional hatch with the addition of the Prius V people-mover by mid-2012.

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