Marathon Prius UK test drive – we’re back!

Well, the Prius is back safely, and Charlie, Alex and myself have all been fed and watered (if not quite properly rested). In the next few days I’ll be publishing the full statistics for all the drivers on our marathon trip, along with my reflections on what happened, what we learned and how much fun we had, but this trip was all about questions, and there’s an important one we need to answer.

Back at the beginning of June, D Simons – who’s owned two Prius since 2002 – asked whether the new car could really do 72 miles on a gallon of fuel. It’s a good question. According to the official (combined) figures, each gallon will take you 72.4 miles if you have 15″ wheels, or 70.6 miles if you have the 17″ wheels that are standard on the both the T4 and our T-Spirit.

80 mpg on the A1 (M)

There were many reasons for our trip, and many things we wanted to achieve, but like D Simons, I also wanted to know whether you could expect that level of economy in real-life driving on real roads. As it turned out, we also experienced a lot of real weather.

Of course, we wanted the car to do well so we drove it economically, but for a more realistic result we decided to include the figures from everyone that was taking a test drive – and that meant a lot of faster, shorter and more aggressive drives.

I’ve a mound of notes covering all the individual stints people spent behind the wheel, but to answer the big question; over 1,819.6 miles, 18 different drivers averaged an indicated 70.39mpg. Over the whole trip, we were only fractionally short of the 70.6mpg official figure, and we managed much better than that on several stints – our best, recorded from Epsom to Rochford in Essex, was 83.7mpg over a distance of 60.4 miles.

So, after many hundred miles of driving we think we can truthfully say that yes, the Prius is capable of that kind of economy in real life, but – as with any car – you do need to drive with economy in mind.

Use Eco mode and the car’s Eco meter – available in the upper dash zone and head-up display – and you’ll soon find yourself doing just that.


  1. @Andy – sorry for the long wait. Pack content confirmed as follows:
    Protection – (£340, T4 and T Spirit only) boot liner and rear parking sensors
    Style – (£350, T4 and T Spirit only) chrome surround on fog lamps, chrome side strips and chrome strip on rear tailgate
    @Tony – Yep, I was glad you loved the car when you actually got to see and drive it! Please do let us know when yours arrives. We’d love to see the pics and find out what it’s like to own the new car.

  2. @Pete G
    Try asking for the 15″, the dealer may have a T3 customer who wants the larger wheels & can do a deal with them. You probably won’t get anything off though.

    I’ve a Mini & drove 15/16/17 before going for the 15″ option. The steering was lighter with a more compliant & quieter ride and tram-lined far less than (especially) the 17″. In my opinion the 17″ give more grip (on smooth tarmac) but the day to day ride quality was superior with the 15″ tyres. Admittedly Mini insist the 16 & 17 wheels must have run-flat tyres that are especially unforgiving.

    And 4% on a tank is an extra 28 miles.

  3. In answer to those who question the mpg figures, I attended the Longcross event on the 27th and drove my Mk2 Prius the 105 miles from Somerset along the A303 and M3. My overall figure for the entire trip was 65.0 mpg.

    I have managed to average 62-65 mpg during the summer and 55-59 during winter (based on 4 years ownership and 55,000 miles)

    Like Pete G, I’m not sure spending £1400 on a solar roof that only cools the interior seems a little expensive – the ability to trickle charge the battery would make it more worthwile.

    My local dealer has my deposit for the new model and I can’t wait to see what mileage I can get from it.

  4. Got my Prius T-Spirit(17″wheels)in Sep.09 and have driven it hard for for ca. 4k.mi. Indicated 80-85mph cruising on m/ways, hard A-road driving (power mode driving only). Av. fc over this period(incl. recent winter weather) is 47.6mpg. This is substantially better than the ca. 40mpg fc my similarly driven 2008 Honda civic diesel(manual) managed over ca. 4k.mi. I like the CVT auto and the sophistication of the engineering. I would have liked ca.150bhp and a harmonically balanced engine for silky smoothness. The tinny door skin sound(knuckle test) attracts negative comments from professional colleagues(mostly engineers). Some rattles inside too.
    Good car but some aspects require further development.

  5. Re the mpg figures, I have to doubt the figures which are being stated as possible with the Prius. I drove the Prius MkII and was very disappointed with the consumption. Maybe the MkIII is better but these 70+ mpg figures are not realistic for most people.

    Sure, around town, and with very careful driving, the Prius is great but that’s not ‘real world’ for me. My driving involves quite a bit of Autobahn use, meaning speeds well in excess of UK limits. At those speeds, the Prius would be flat out and it is then less fuel efficient than many far more powerful cars, let alone a decent diesel. For evidence, see Top Gear’s test, where the Prius averaged 17mpg, against a 400PS BMW M3’s 19mpg!

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