11 months ago

Selwyn Times: November 28, 2017

36 Wednesday

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SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at Wednesday November 29 2017 37 Driven • By Ross Kiddie I GET the impression we are on the cusp of a dramatic change in the way automobiles are built, well, more specifically, the way they are powered. Some manufacturing companies have already announced a phase out of the internal combustion engine while others are rapidly increasing development of electric cars. Add to that the desire by many governments to increase the electric vehicle fleet, including New Zealand, and the stage is set for an electric revolution. In New Zealand at present there are several plug-in, electric only models in our new car market, and there are many others available pre-owned through direct imports from Japan, and if you take into account the multitude of hybrid models available new, then a definite wind of change can be felt. The car that started the hybrid revolution, Toyota’s Prius, is not available here new as a plugin, even though it is marketed extensively in Japan and the United States. However, if you are keen to join the plug-in brigade, yet find the cost of buying electric quite prohibitive, then Toyota may still have the answer. Toyota New Zealand is importing pre-owned, low kilometre Prius models direct from Japan, they are refurbished at Toyota’s Thames Signature Class facility before offered to the dealer network. Toyota New Zealand made one of these available for evaluation, and the first thing you notice is that it still has that easy-to-drive operation that we have come to know in Prius, it is intuitive and the hybrid system is still very much intact, the plug-in facility is an extra, it’s there to offer electric-only travel. When battery energy runs low, the four-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol mechanism cuts in to work in the way that hybrids have now become familiar. The hybrid system is a complex process but, put simply, the engine and electric motor work in unison seamlessly and efficiently, drives is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. Because the evaluation car was pre-owned I didn’t take stock of the fuel usage benefits Prius offers, except to say new Prius is rated with a 3.4-litre per 100km (82mpg) combined cycle fuel usage average. The plug-in effect wouldn’t alter that figure, it’s just that by plugging it in and charging you are effectively prolonging the time before petrol power cuts in. The first thing I noticed about the Prius in this form is the soft suspension; unless I’m very much mistaken, in the Japanese domestic market spring and damper rates are softer than those on Prius sold new here in New Zealand. That’s not a big deal, in fact if you look at Christchurch’s uneven road surfaces, it has a big benefit in terms of ride comfort. There is a bit of a trade-off in the way the Prius handles, it does lean a little in a corner but its not in a way that affects balance, there’s a lot of weight down low and that helps stability. And besides, Prius Local News Now Plug-in Prius takes up electric car challenge TOYOTA PRIUS PHEV: Pre-owned and refurbished at Toyota’s Signature Class operation. • Price – Toyota Prius PHEV, N/A • Dimensions – Length, 4540mm; width, 1760mm; height, 1475mm • Configuration – Fourcylinder, front-wheel-drive, 1798cc, 90kW, 142Nm, continuously variable automatic. • Performance – 0-100km/h, 11sec • Fuel usage – 3.4l/100km Fire rages, homes at risk is not engineered for life in the fast lane, it is a sedate tourer and is far from a performance car with its emphasis on low operating costs. As you would expect for the Japanese market, the Prius was brimming with features, and although it wasn’t leather trimmed the grey cloth was refreshing and, of course, extremely comfortable. New Zealand buyers have been served well by the beautifullypresented models from Toyota Signature Class operation. I’m a bit of a fan, as a family we own a Signature Class Toyota Celica and it was immaculate when we bought it. The Celica is far removed from the Prius concept, but the point I’m making is that it shouldn’t be viewed as a second-hand car. The evaluation car was showing just 17,000km and very similar models are listing for around $35,000. That represents a huge saving against some of the new electriconly models in today’s market here. Those who do go down that track can rest in the knowledge they are doing their bit for the environment, along with owning a reliable and future-friendly electric vehicle, plus enjoying the obvious benefits of traditional hybrid power. FILL UP FOR LESS WITH YOUR SUPERGOLD CARD. 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