Toyota Prius engines, drive & performance

You’ll find acceptable performance and safe, secure handling from the Toyota Prius rather than an exciting drive, but it handles neatly

Thanks to its electric assistance performance in the Toyota Prius is sharper than you might think, so performance is up to the task if not stunning. What is good is that the Prius is extremely easy to drive, making long journeys relaxing thanks to a compliant suspension setup.

Toyota Prius electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

There’s just one powertrain offered on the Toyota Prius. This consists of a 1.8-litre non-turbo petrol engine producing a fairly low 97bhp. However, it’s boosted by a 71bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels along with the petrol engine, which gives a total system output of 121bhp.

The electric motor’s torque helps provide a boost from a standstill, and the e-motor’s instant response means the Prius feels brisk pulling away.

At higher speeds the petrol engine contributes more, with the CVT automatic transmission optimising engine revs for the level of performance required.

Plant your right foot to the floor and the Toyota will accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, while top speed stands at 112mph. However, flat-out performance is not what the Prius is about. Accelerate hard and the engine revs rise sharply and are held by the transmission at quite a high point, which impacts refinement.

It’s more pleasant to cruise along at a leisurely pace in the Prius as a result. The car will carry plenty of speed through corners though.

Handling

The Prius’s steering is light and lacks any real form of communication, but thanks to the car’s new mechanicals, which features double wishbone suspension, the Prius changes direction positively and offers enough support and body control in turns without upsetting the ride quality.

At speed the car feels as though it floats over most road surfaces with a relatively light, compliant touch. Only big bumps really upset the body and cause a thunk through the suspension – it’s also more forgiving on 15-inch wheels.

This softer, more compliant side to the ride comes into its own around town, where grids, potholes and other lumps and bumps are prominent. However, while you don’t feel bumps all too badly, you do quite a fair bit of suspension and road noise as the car smothers bumps beneath you.

This just takes the edge of refinement, especially at high speed. If you ask for full throttle that naturally aspirated engine will also rev hard, filling the cabin with a coarse engine note.

However, at low speed it’s fine, and from walking pace on electric power the Prius is extremely relaxed, as a hybrid eco car should be.