Prius V pricing announced

The new Prius v has finally been launched in Australia.  (Where’s my invitation Bin?)  I saw a few in Japan last October where I picked up a brochure for the Prius α [alpha], as it is known over there.  (For the record, the surname of the very helpful saleswoman at ToyoPet Platinum Shop at Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo was Tsuzuki.)

In Japan both 5 – and 7-seater versions are available with different HV battery configurations.  I guess that Toyota Australia couldn’t see the point of another 5-seater Prius on top of the Prius and Prius c (known as the Prius Aqua in Japan), so we are only getting the NVW40 7-seater, which seems a sound decision.

Here’s a comparison of the Prius v and the Prius base and i-Tech packages.

In ACT, the Prius v and Prius base are close on price and specs.  BTW, in ACT stamp duty is zero for cars with a green rating of 16 or better (Prius v scores 17) so the new price will vary in other states.  Only $2000 difference is not bad and no, I don’t know why the i-Tech costs $10-12,000 more.

  • Prius v RRP $35,990 Full Drive away $38,921.10
  • Prius base RRP $33,990 Full Drive away $36,791.60
  • Prius i-Tech RRP $45,990 Full Drive away $48,791.60

The Prius v weights 200kg more than the Prius base but can carry 310kg more.  The 2 extra seats are small for adults.  Moving the HV battery to the front console means that there’s decent space at the back with the rear seats folded… though I’ll have to see with my own eyes before I can be sure.

The Prius v has quite different dimensions between the Prius v, Prius base and Prius i-Tech

  • Length 4615 4480 4480
  • Width 1775 1745 1745
  • Height 1590 1490 1505
  • Wheelbase 2780 2700 2700
  • Wheels 16″ with 114.3mm PCD (Prius has 100mm PCD)

The engine specs, fuel tank, braking and suspension are the same.  The tyres at 205/60/16 are midway between the 195/65/15 on the base and 215/45/17 on the i-Tech.  IMO 16″ wheels are a good compromise of comfort and performance, but since the PCD is different you won’t be able to exchange wheels with a Prius.

Only 1 model is being sold so it is interesting to compare with overseas models.  In Japan, it would be between the G and S if that came as a 7-seater.  All Australian-delivered Prius have fog lamps, perhaps thinking that most would be sold/leased in Canberra to Government.  The Prius v will have a “premium” steering wheel from the G, but not the LED headlights.  In USA it is probably closest to the Prius v Two but with fog lamps.

It also has only 6 speakers, against 8 in the Prii, but the front speakers are 5.5″ squawkers instead of 5″.  Moonroof, radar cruise control, parking robot and pre-collision are not options.

But worst of all, there’s no navigation package to go with the 6.1″ touch screen display, though there is a reverse camera.  The Japanese brochure for the Prius α has a separate brochure for the 7 navigation systems it offers.  Why no navi in Australia?  Even the base model Prius could be ordered with navigation until the 2012 model.

No mention of accessories for the Prius v in Australia.  Shall I mention the customise brochure included in the Japanese Prius α brochure?  Modellista and TRD styling packages for interior and exterior.  There’s even a premium horn set at ¥5250 plus 0.7 hours fitting.

Despite having had the Prius for only 4 months, I’m quite interested in the Prius v.  I don’t need a 7-seater and the Prius hatch is sufficient for 95% of loads I’d carry.  But the extra width and wheelbase might translate into a smoother ride.  Going from a Citroën C5 Break (wagon) with hydro-pneumatic suspension to a normal car is a big shock.  I’m used to the ride in the Prius, but it ain’t no magic carpet.  But will the lack of navigation be a killer or will it simply be the lack of disposable income?

It should be mentioned that it isn’t clear how a plug-in HV battery could be fitted to the 7-seater Prius v.  The 5-seater has the HV battery at the rear, whereas the 7-seater moves it to the front between the driver and front passenger.  Where would an extra HV battery fit?

I’ll try to test drive the Prius v this weekend and report back.

Goat on Hume Highway

Or should I say “goats”?

I only saw one.  I was at on the Hume Highway just south of the Narellen road overpass travelling north at about 08:30.  On the left hand side of the road was a big, black goat. I stopped dead on the Hume Highway in case it decided to run in front of me and flicked on the hazard lights lest anyone behind me didn’t realise that livestock were crossing..  After I stopped, the goat ran across the road and onto the median.

I called the police on 131444 to report that “traffic conditions” near Raby NSW were fine with a chance of goat.

Returning to Canberra I passed the same spot at about 15:30 and saw the same goat.  This time there was a police paddy wagon.  However the police officers seemed content to say in the cabin.

Now I find a Facebook page has been started for the half-dozen or so goats that live precariously on the Hume Highway.  Try explaining that to the insurance.

Prius – fuel consumption improving, but highways are still a challenge

Finally, I’m starting to get better fuel consumption numbers.  the last two fills were:

  • 13 May 2012 – 782km, 36.26l for 4.64l/100km (60.88 mpg(UK) 50.93mpg(US) 21.55km/l)
  • 26 May 2012 – 660km, 31.49l for 4.77l/100km (59.22 mpg(UK) 49.54mpg(US) 20.96km/l)

The last slightly short tank was on account of filling up before driving to Sydney early the next day.  The trip meter at the end of the journey read 4.5l/100km which if I add the 6.5% error becomes 4.8l/100km.  That is not such a bad results given the conditions:

  • Morning temperature was 0.3°c
  • Foggy, so I had to use the front and rear defoggers regularly
  • Lots of steep hills from Canberra to Sydney
  • Stopped to let the dogs have a wee
  • Stopped to let a goat run across the Hume Highway (more on that story later)
  • Used cruise control and Power mode to climb hills and ECO mode elsewhere

Power mode + cruise control + steep hill = ?

As many people who drive the third biggest-selling car in the world would know, the best economy comes from “Pulse and Glide” driving.  Instead of maintaining a steady speed, you should pulse to a high-speed and then glide by coasting until the speed drops and then pulse again.  Here’s a very instructive video to explain…

I haven’t figured out how to do that at 110km/h.  And it isn’t good form to vary your speed on a busy highway as there’s cars and trucks about.

So I just set the cruise control to 114km/h (true 110km/h) to drive to and from Sydney.  In a previous post I mentioned the elevation profiles from Canberra to Sydney and back again (the two ways aren’t the same).  The hills are a challenge since they are steep and long.  The average altitude doesn’t change for about 100km, but you do a lot of climbing nonetheless.  There’s also a fair bit of descending, so it is often possible to regenerate the HV battery while maintaining 110km/h.

As anyone who uses cruise control would agree, hills can cause a rapid drop in speed followed by a surge of power, a slight jump over the crest and a nervous wait to resume normal service.  When I’ve been in ECO mode with cruise control and I reach a steep hill, the car slows down a lot and then the car makes all efforts to get back to the set speed.  This is despite accelerating in anticipation of the hill.  This results in the engine and motor dumps full hybrid power to resume normal service.  This is not great for fuel consumption.

So I tried switch from ECO mode to Power mode before the slope affected my speed.  The [hardly rigorous] results were:

  • car only slowed 1-3km/h from the set speed on most hills before it recovered;
  • just touched the power zone on the HSI on most hills, instead of hitting the top of the power zone on almost all hills;
  • maximum instantaneous fuel consumption was 15.5l/100km on the steepest hill, compared to 17l/100km in ECO mode;
  • car felt safe and confident going up hills

So for now, I’ll use ECO mode for better A/C efficiency and gentler throttle response and Power mode to climb hills.  Not quite the same as pulse and glide, but might be effective for the steepest sections.

Saville Row – Documentary and odd combination of parked cars

I just watched an excellent documentary about Saville Row.  The tailors and outfitters on famous street in Mayfair, London were ruffled by the prospect of Abercrombie & Fitch opening in an abandoned bank building on the street.  While a few were hopeful that some of the young crowd would consider bespoke clothing sooner rather than later, the rest were much more realistic.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom.  There was also the rich history, the tradition, the ‘making lots of military uniforms and getting paid almost nothing for them’ and the incredibly high standards, quality and prices.

Here’s the three episodes on Youtube.

So I decided to check Saville Row on Google Maps Street View.  Opposite Hardy Amies (I have some of his shirts, me) I spotted a Hummer H2 parked in front of a G-Whiz.
Has anyone else found an improbable pair of cars parked together in a street world famous for fashion?


Getting colder

ANZAC Day 25 April is significant for many reasons.  It commemorates the landing of the Australian Imperial Forces at Gallipoli in 1915.  After its importance waned during the 1960’s and 70’s, it has recently become a more important and observed holiday than even Australia Day.

No less significantly, it marks a tipping point in Canberra’s climate.  The cold weather starts and there won’t be any warm nights and days until September at the earliest.

The tipping point is marked by frost-bitten tomato plants, an extra doona (quilt, duvet) and warmer pants.  Yes, the expedition-strength boxer shorts have been worn once already.

With the high rainfall so far this year, the trees got a bit out of sync.  But they are finally displaying intense red, orange and even purple leaves, contrasting with the evergreen gums and pines.

And you can tell whose garage is full of stuff by the frosted windscreens on the cars left out at night.  I rearranged a few things to fit the Prius in beside the Citroën to avoid any delay should I need to drive in the morning.

Canberra is at its most beautiful in Autumn.