Marathon Prius UK test drive – day four

Well, that was quite a day. On Sunday night we managed to relax for the first time since leaving the south coast, and on Monday morning we even had a lie in. But on our way to meet Mark, motorway signs started warning of bad weather to come.

We weren’t sure it was possible to see worse rain than we drove through on Sunday on the way up to Glasgow, but when the heavens opened this time it was like nothing we’d ever seen. We drew up at Mark’s house where the downpour had created flash flooding, and forced something of a Mexican standoff – Alex and me too scared to make the dash to the front door, and Mark not fancying a sprint to the Prius.

Even when the rain finally eased off and we ventured out, there was chaos, with another car losing its exhaust to a deep puddle at the side of the road. With a 650-volt battery pack in the back I briefly considered what would happen if the Prius wasn’t designed with this much water in mind. When Mark launched us through standing water that splashed well up over the wing mirrors and the car didn’t even flinch, I stopped worrying.

We felt a little sorry for Mark who, given the weather, ended up taking a shorter test drive than we hoped he’d have. Over 11.2 miles his economy was 39.3mpg, but we’re pretty sure he enjoyed himself.

Mark in Prius

Before leaving Glasgow we paid a visit to Mark’s local dealer, Shields Toyota of Hamilton, where Stuart McClaren took us and another member of the team on a quick drive. Both pronounced the new car a big improvement.

Sadly, although we’d tried to get in touch with Marion we weren’t able to meet up with her, so we headed south, and eventually out of Scotland, for our next appointment in Liverpool. The rain wasn’t finished with us yet, though, building up to an impressive and scary lightning display as we drove the M6 through Cumbria.

Not long before reaching Liverpool, the Prius’ fuel gauge was flashing at us and we decided to fill up again. This time Alex managed to squeeze slightly less into the tank, which – given that we’d brimmed it last time – was probably some way off running dry.

As you can see, the weather had changed for the better between Kendall and Liverpool, and by the time we met Sandeep at Lime Street station it was a lovely sunny evening. Sadly, it wasn’t all good, as Alex was needed back at Toyota HQ. I waved him off with minutes before his train, and am joined for the rest of the journey by colleague Charlie. With no time for the two of us to catch up, Sandeep directed us on a local’s tour of Liverpool city centre, before taking the wheel himself just near the iconic Liver Building.

Charlie and I didn’t have anyone else to see, so Sandeep had a chance to take us on a longer drive around Liverpool, taking in the universities, cathedrals and Aintree racecourse before arriving at his place of work. Over the 20.8 miles, he managed a very respectable 58.9mpg, and managed a mostly relaxed pace – something he tells us isn’t always the case!

Having dropped off a happy Sandeep, I made use of the Prius’ fully-electric EV mode as we headed back into the city. Over 8.2 miles of stop-start driving, it helped me record 82.4mpg.

It’s a shame to be leaving another great city unexplored, but this afternoon we have an appointment with Janet in south west Wales, and both Charlie and I are really excited about the drive there. We’ve decided to take Janet’s advice and take the coast road via Aberystwith, which will also take us over Snowdonia national Park. We expect stunning views and lovely driving, but I worry what it will do to our fuel consumption, which last night stood at 70.8mpg over 1,285.6 miles.


  1. Simon and Alex drove up in the new Prius this morning just as the skies opened and we had the most torrential rainfall I’d seen in years. Our road had turned into a river, and without jackets or an umbrella they didn’t really want to get out of the car. My first impressions as they reversed up were that 1) I don’t really like white cars and 2) I wasn’t fussed for the new toyota logo badge which has blue shaded edges. I suspect it would look better on a darker car though.

    After a coffee and a short break in the heavy rain we took a trip to the M74 where I was able to see how well it was able to accelerate onto and off the motorway and up slip roads. It did far better than my older Prius, even with the three of us and some luggage. Due to the surface water I wasn’t able to really accelerate hard (which I’m sure Simon was happy about as it wouldn’t have given great fuel performance), but I felt the car would have given me more had I pushed it. I especially liked the Eco mode button on the motorway which made the car a little less powerful but would teach me to drive better: Tracy always gets about 5mpg better than me.

    The car interior felt a little more refined than my older model, they’ve moved the gearstick to the centre console for example. But it also felt a little less techie; perhaps trying to appeal the car to the folks who are not hardened star-trek fans. Climate control is now on a separate panel for example and looks just like you’d find in any other modern car, a bit of shame not to use the touchscreen for it. The car modes, graphs, and counters are moved from the touch screen and are all above the dash now too, but they did feel better there.

    After the brief motorway drive we headed through the water (and past a motorist that had just lost his entire exhaust assembly in a puddle) and to Bothwell Castle, as much in EV mode as we could. I’d brought along my PDA loaded with TomTom to compare the sat navigation. Both, although having recent maps, were out of date, not knowing my house (although it’s been built for more than 10 years), some altered junctions, and missing a couple of new mini-roundabouts. The prius had a nice female english accent which didn’t scold me for ignoring her directions and it was quick to re-route. Compared to the speed calculated from my GPS the car was reading over by about 5% (my current Prius is over by 10%, so a motorway drive at 77mph is only really 70mph). It was great to see the next turn shown on the heads-up display too. I was worried that display would be a bit of a distraction, but it was actually pretty amazing once they adjusted for me (I’m quite tall and had to set the seat to the minimum position). I didn’t get chance to use the reversing assist due to the poor conditions — in the heavy rain the rear camera had become quite wet and the rear view was obscured.

    Other little things I liked were not needed to insert the key
    (although this meant the team were always wondering and double
    checking they’d locked the car after leaving it), and having two front power sockets (the first being underneath the centre console, and the other inside the armrest. The car also noticed whenever we stopped in standing water, with a nice dashboard warning symbol. The boot space and rear legroom seemed bigger too.

    Some things I wasn’t so sure about; I suspect it’s easy to leave something in the gap under the centre console when you get out of the car — you won’t see it, but a thief looking in through the side window will. It was also disappointing that the HDD jukebox system wasn’t able to be loaded from USB (although perhaps you can upload songs to it via bluetooth? that would be just as useful, but I didn’t ask).

    All in all the negative niggles were really just that, and the
    positives of the car far outweigh them. The test drive has convinced me to upgrade to the new model, but it didn’t help me decide which of the range to get. While the t-spirit has all the extra gadgets, I’m just not sure in practice that we’d use the navigation system or reversing assist, and so it might be better getting the entry level model this time and waiting until a future edition that has some of the things this one is missing.

    I’d really like to thank this site for making it possible for me to test drive the car today, the guys had to battle some terrible weather to get here. Off this weekend to go see my local dealer!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it Mark – what a detailed an honest write-up too. Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you made of it all.

  3. Thanks Simon & Charlie for a wonderful time in the Prius. I really enjoyed driving it (although much slowly than I am used to) & have decided to go for it. The only question now is what spec.

    Am going to Trafford Centre this weekend for more Prius watching.

    Thanks once again,


  4. Mark – thanks so much for the massive write up. It’s much appreciated. It was great to meet you despite the absolutely miserable weather!

    A pleasure to meet you too, Sandeep. How did you get on at the Trafford Centre?

  5. Hi Simon,

    Had a great time at Trafford Centre. Wife very impressed with Prius 2010 aswell (always helps to have a happy wife).

    Any idea whether Toyota would have any financial offers for Prius 2010. IIRC they did offer 0% in the US about a month after the car went on sale there. Also do you have the figures for 0-62 miles in the eco mode ? (I am assuming 0-62 in 10.4 secs is in power mode).



  6. Glad to hear you and your wife enjoyed the Trafford Centre, Sandeep. I’m looking into your questions and will try to come back with answers.


  7. Simon,
    One more question for you to answer when you get back to me.
    I am quite keen to see Orion Blue Prius. The only colour I have seen on Priuses (?Prii) has been Pearl white.

    Any idea when the cars are reaching the showroom & is there any way I can see a Blue Prius sooner rather than later ?

    Unfortunately my local dealer hasnt been much help.


  8. Hi Sandeep – I’m still waiting to hear back on the other questions.

    I’ve only seen the car in Pearl white, and all the press images are white at this stage. The new Prius should be available to view on your local centre’s Viewpoint system, though. I was exploring this when we were in Glasgow and saw that there were pictures of it in the other colours. I’m afraid I’m not sure when you’ll get to see one in the flesh.

    I’m assured by Darryl, who’s been writing about Toyota’s range for many years now, that the plural of Prius is Prius. My money was on Prii, but I’m happy to defer to experience on this one!

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