Fleet News

Toyota Prius 1.5 GLS – 7,300 miles



FOR the past six months, Fleet News has been taking part in a rather special long term test. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid petrol/electric car, is the first such vehicle we have appraised over any serious length of time.

After all, we write enough column inches advising fleet managers about how to green up their acts, so it seems hardly fair that us staffers should be swanning about in gas-guzzling monsters, nice as that might be.

We have tried to be honest in our opinions about the Prius over the months and it must be said that the car wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

But as the Prius was returned to its maker this week, all of us at Fleet News would like to give Toyota a huge pat on the back for standing up, putting its money where its corporate mouth is and actually building a vehicle for sale which is specifically aimed at doing something for the environment.

Apart from Toyota, Honda is the only other manufacturer so far to produce such a vehicle.

Fleet News Europe news editor Mike Roberts was first behind the wheel and while he admired the Prius's benefit-in-kind tax efficiency, its roominess and general practicality, he didn't like its looks. In fact, he went so far as to say: 'It's an ugly car in my view and its looks would be the reason I wouldn't choose one.'

I pointed out that in comparison to Honda's Insight hybrid, the Prius was a raving beauty, but he remained unmoved.

My personal view is that the car looks fine and from a tax point of view, it's a star performer.

With just 114 grams of carbon dioxide coming from its exhaust pipe per kilometre, it undercuts the lowest level of 165g/km under the new benefit-in-kind tax system by 51grams.

And as a tax carrot to the green lobby, the Government has decided that a company car driver who chooses the Prius will only pay 11% of its P11D price in tax, which equates to just £467 a year, or £38.91 a month for a lower rate tax payer. With figures like that under its belt, this car must be worth a second look.

Next up on the testing block was editorial assistant Jane Ward, who is a keen environmentalist. She was eager to check out the latest developments, having been raised on a diet of four-star and double declutching.

She, like the rest, admired its green credentials and average miles per gallon hovering around the 50mpg mark, but soon found herself becoming rather bored by flying the green flag. What this car lacks, she opined, is a fun factor and it's all very well being a martyr on the roads, but all work and no play soon makes Jack (or Jane in this case!) a dull boy (or girl).

So the moral of this story is simple: the Prius is a fine car but only for the right drivers - those who care enough about the future of our planet and the weight of their wallet (or purse) to put aside their personal desires for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

Those who want to thrash about the countryside guzzling fuel and having what they call 'fun' won't give the Prius a second glance - but then again, this car was never aimed at people like that in the first place.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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