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History (short)
Hybrid Principle
Fuel Cell Technology

2016 Prius
2016 RAV4
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2014 Mirai - FCV
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1994 RAV4
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  Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius
Combustion engineIn-line four-cylinder
Displacement1497 cm³
Bore * stroke75 * 84,7 mm
Compression13 : 1
Valve trainDOHC, variable valve control
Valve4 per cylinder
Torque115 Nm at 4000 rpm
Performance57 kW (78 HP)
Rated speed5000 rpm
Electric engine500 V, rotary current, nickel-metalhydrid
Torque400 Nm bei 0 - 1200 rpm
Leistung50 kW at 1200 - 1540 rpm
ConstructionFront drive (transverse)
Suspension frontMcPherson-spring strut
Suspension rearTwist
SteeringRack and pinion, elektric servo steering
Brakes v/hDiscs, front internal ventilated, SBC-system
Tyres195/55 R 16 87 V (6")
Wheel base2700 mm
Length4450 mm
Width1725 mm
Height1490 mm
Tank capacity45 liter
Kerb weight1375 kg incl. driver
Drag coefficient0,26
Top speedApprox. 170 km/h
Exhaust classificationEuro 4
CO2-emission104 g/km
Basic priceMarginal 24.000 Euro (2004)
Year of constructionFrom 2003

It's name 'Prius' (Lat.= better) indicates the first of a new generation of vehicles. Already, very soon after it's appearance, it was widely accepted, particularly in the USA. It just happened to come out at the same time as various enviromental disasters were very much a public discussion theme. For the Toyota company, it underlined their supremacy in the field of hybrid vehicles.

To summarise, one could call it an integrated concept which includes the engine, clutch- and gearbox functions, as well as the brake assembly. Everything is controlled by a central engine management, which in addition, also conjures up coloured pictures on the display in the center of the dashboard. The person can thus, see the results of his/her fuel-saving activities not only in the consumption display. Psychology is an important factor in the, very necessary, fight against the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The experts were particularly surprised at the low consumption if only the engine is active. Actually, a hybrid car does most of it's fuel saving in urban traffic. In country road driving, the engine only helps a little to keep the consumption low due to it's smaller capacity, which is possibly neutralised by having to carry the heavy battery around. Here, the Prius can score once again. It's engine functions under the Atkinson-principle, named after James Atkinson and the engine he developed in 1882. In this case, it's all about the highest possible exploitation of the pressure developing during combustion. While at that time, the combustion-stroke was lengthened towards the end of the stroke, the Toyota engine started the combustion-stroke with less pressure, depending on the operating condition of the engine. Apparently in this case, the very variable valve timing comes into play.

The compression is dimished through extended valve timing. Thereby, the mixture in the cylinder returns to to inlet manifold. At first, this gives the impression that the engine is weaker than it's capacity suggests. Other companies have used charging to compensate for this disadvantage. With the Prius-II-engine, this fuel saving mode can be exited at any time, e.g., at full power, and additional support from the electric motor is also possible. In the latest version (Prius III) the cubic capacity has been increased, can nonetheless, be even more economically operated. It uses the available, relatively low fuel-air very effectively. Thus, it becomes explainable why, when using the accelerator carefully, the fuel consumption on the motorway can be kept under the 5 liter/100 km mark, however, by putting one's foot down, twice that amount is possible.

In addition, there are also the good aerodynamics of the car-body, which has hardly any negative effect on the interior. During particularly slow motorway driving, the predecessor, the Prius I, could force a switch-over because of a discharged battery. Nothing of this can be found any more in the Prius II. Combined with a favourable drive-train, a streamlined and light bodywork has been constructed with a view to only small losses, which nonetheless, complies with all the essential NCAP-points. Added to this, the engine-unit is probably no heavier than that of the normal middle-size vehicle. The weight of the two electric motors is probably cancelled out by the smaller combustion engine and the lack of generator, starter, clutch and manual gearbox. The simple, space saving rear axle suspension, which can easily hold it's own against the more advanced multilink-axle, is also lighter.

A few disadvantages of this car should not remain unmentioned. The eight-year guarantee on the battery is only possible by conforming to a very restrictive management. The charging- and discharging cycles are only between one- and two thirds controlled, which means that basically, two-thirds of the battery is being transported for nothing. The service intervals of every 15.000 kms are really not the current standard. The speedometer unit, placed up front, in the center of the dashboard, takes some getting used to. The 200-Volt-battery requires special safety equipment, does not however, substantially reduce the loading capacity.

Unfortunately, if it were necessary, this Toyota can not pull a trailer. In contrast to the normal operation, when accelerating heavily the engine is really loud. The alleged combination of torque from the electric motor and from the combustion engine cannot be noticed when accelerating heavily. In reality, the 500 Nm torque advertised in the brochures is not available. The braking system is described in tests as “takes getting used to...” However, it has been spared the small disasters like those of the Mercedes-SBC. Of course, the aerodynamic car-body shape makes it difficult to see what's happening up front and at the rear. Perhaps this is the reason for a rear-view camera and a parking assistent. The interior fittings don't give the impression of being of as high a quality as the competition.

All the above points have not stopped the car from receiving multiple honours, and all the other competitors have examined it very carefully. In this case, the Toyota company has obviously managed to achieve a supremacy position in the field of hybrid powered vehicles. Also in the extended testing the Prius passed with flying colours and the results of the final exhaust-gas tests were excellent. It is, at the moment the most promising and practical hope in the conflict with the climatic change with it's unmatched fuel economy, also on the motorways. There are reports of a consumption, also in everyday use, of under 5 liters/100 kms. If you think about it, a Diesel engine would have to reduce ist consumption by 13% to achieve the same CO2 exhaust values.

Actually, one would think that this vehicle presents highlights enough. However, in Japan it has the optional extra of the first automatic parking system. Thereby, the car measures the size of the parking spot and points out if there is sufficient space. A few short instructions given to the display after engaging the reverse gear and slightly relaxing the pressure on the brake pedal, allows the car, with independent steering movements, to slot into the parking space. 01/11