It results is the electric motor taking the majority of low-speed work and means that in town your reward is zero emissions and no fuel consumption for most of the time. However, I decided to ignore all this and took the Prius on a 300-mile round trip to North Wales over the Easter weekend to see how it performed stacking up the motorway miles – and came away surprised.
My Fleet News colleagues do not seem to have mentioned over the past five months that the steering on the Prius is over-assisted almost to the point of it spinning like a tiller on a clipper than a steering wheel on a state of the art, hi-tech saloon.
I also believe that the lack of communication through the steering is made worse by the very small wheels. I'm sure the wheel size has something to do with the low fuel consumption, and the light steering and small turning circle take the stress out of parking.
However, with about half of the mileage on my trip being done on the motorway this would not matter.
What did surprise me was that during the journey the car virtually matched the official combined fuel consumption figure of 57.6mpg – as 300 miles came up it was spot-on 57mpg.
The soft handling of the Prius made sure we proceeded with care on the few twisty A-road sections in Leicestershire, but it settled down once on the motorway and was a comfortable cruiser.
It also has a surprising turn of speed when you need to overtake, adding an extra 10mph to the speedometer in a couple of seconds. And the brakes are surprisingly powerful – probably due to the fact that when slowing down the engine diverts power to the battery. For engine braking – for example when travelling down steep hills – there is a special 'B' setting after the PRND on the gear selector.
Meanwhile more good news. Since we first took delivery in October CAP has revised its residual values prediction, improving the forecast from 24% to 25% on three years/60,000 miles.
In most cases this would be academic because Toyota's fleet department would be keen to make its own leasing arrangements and take back the car at the end of its term, but it does hint that the motor trade – which has been highly suspicious of hybrid technology up to now – could now be looking at it more favourably.