The Toyota Prius C is the cheaper cousin of the larger Prius i-tech. While it's targeted at the younger end of the market, it's also fine if you're wanting to scoot round the city, rather than doing a lot of long-distance travel. Our tester took it for a spin – let's see what he has to say about it.

Performance

  • It took 12.6 seconds from 0 to 100km/h, which is adequate, but not particularly quick. The engine has to work really hard to overtake cars and trucks, especially at higher speeds. The noise increases at a faster rate than you actually progress. 
  • The brakes feel powerful and will stop the car quickly from any speed – 10.5 metres from 50km/hour on a damp road. 
  • The steering is very light and quick. It's also direct, which our tester really liked.
  • The car has constantly variable transmission which works well, but it's slow to respond when putting the right foot right down.
  • The ride is comfortable, but quite firm, and the car feels sure-footed even when cornering fast. 
  • The body also feels solid.

Comfort

  • The cabin is reasonably comfortable; seats are firm, and the backrest and pew of the driver's seat provide enough support. The dashboard and door trims are hard plastic. 
  • There's a lot of road noise entering the cabin, even when driving on even-surfaced roads. Slight wind noise is present coming from the A-pillars (each side of the windscreen) over 80km/h, and really noticeable at 100km/h. 
  • The touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard controls the audio functions, reversing camera and Bluetooth. There are some nice touches, such as a score for the most economical use of fuel, plus you can set your fuel price to show how many dollars you've saved.

Savings

While Toyota's theoretical fuel use claims are 3.9L/100km, we found it was more around 4.9L/100km, which is still pretty good. But it's not much less than the claims for the Yaris in the same class, a far cheaper car. 

You aren't making a lot of savings on fuel, and payback times on today's prices would take over 30 years. Like the larger Prius, the petrol engine turns off if you come to a stop, another fuel-saver. 

CHOICE verdict

A little low on power, the Prius C model is also around $9000 dearer than the Toyota Yaris, which makes this an expensive city driving car. On the positive side it's responsive, and a pretty ride. We recommend it if you're looking for a smaller car that will cut your fuel use costs.

Details

Contact: toyota.com.au

Cost: from $27,519 (base model), $30,609 (i-tech)

Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 3.9L vs 4.9L

Acceleration to 100km/h: 12.6s

Braking distance from 50km/h: 10.5m

ANCAP safety rating: 5 Star