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Safe for you, your family and the planet!
We used to have a small Daewoo Matiz but, when the baby was on the way, we knew we had to go for something bigger. Originally we had planned on getting a less expensive car than this but, with one mind towards fuel price savings, peace of mind and helping the environment, we managed to just about scrape enough money to get the Prius and I'm glad we did!
To start with the basics, let's talk about how it drives. Once you get used to the lack of handbrake lever and the unusual drive selector (It is only in automatic, no stick shift) you are treated to a smooth, responsive and comfortable ride. The drive by wire controls respond as well as any other car and the take off speed is perfectly adequate, even with a full load of passengers. The instruments are clear and easy to read and the center display provides useful information, espescially if you are keeping an eye on consumption. Visibility is good although the back window is split by the spoiler but you soon get used to that. The drive height is nice too, high enough to feel safe and to see well, but low enough to feel in good contact with the road. The controls are all in easy reach and are well laid out, as you'd expect from Toyota.
Space inside is adequate and well utilised. The rear passengers have good leg room, comfortable seats and a couple of cup holders. There is also a rear dome light and the all important ISO fix fitting for a carseat. The center rear passenger has a three point harness, not just a lap belt, another great feature.
The front is just as well laid out with plenty of storage compartments, sunglasses compartment and a jack in the center divide for plugging in your MP3 player. The boot is spacious enough, has the space saving wheel tucked away nicely, and a light for dark loading.
Althuogh not to everyone's tast, the styling is, in my opinion, eyecatching and different without being ugly (like the Multipla!) The wheels have locking nuts and, what I really am impressed by, plastic covers that can be easily changed if they get scuffed. Nice for helping smarten the car up before selling on if you've caught a kerb or two. The petrol cap has a nice little holder to stop it bashing against the paintwork when reilling. Another feature I like is the size of the windscreen washer reservoirs. They're huge and you'll have to fill them very infrequently!
Now for the fun stuff, the gadgets on the TSpirit! You have the standard joy of all around electric windows and mirrors. On top of that is the touch screen in the center console. That shows consumption and how the energy from the battery and engine is being used. You also use this for the sat nav, making calls with the bluetooth connection to your mobile phone, climate control and also setting reminders for service intervals, oil changes, etc. Great for someone with a memory like mine. The car has a 6 CD mp3 multihangers and is a JPL sound system so you can listen to your music in style! There is the AM and FM radio too for catching up on the latest football scores!
The steering wheel has the controls for answer/end calls buttons, cruise control, volume and track change and more so it's safe to manage the toys when driving. This is made even safer by the Voice button, press that and say the relevant command after the beep to control aspects of the various systems, such as Home to set the sat nav to your home address, or state the temperature for the climate control.
There are air bags all around the inside of the car and it achieved the highest rating possible, so you know that you and yours will be well protected should the worst happen.
Consumption is, as you'd expect from a hybrid, very low and when you are used to driving it then you should easily achieve over 50MPG.
After care from Toyota is very good too. I've had to take it in for one minor problem (Seatbelt buckle was a little noisy) and they handle you and your car very well with plenty of information about all that they are doing and a quick service.
The TSpirit is available for around £22000 from the Toyota dealers but I got mine through newcardiscuont.com for several thousand less. It is delivered through them from an RRG dealer and is a genuine UK import with full warranty as if you'd bought it straight from the Toyota dealer, so there are no problems there.
The price tag may put some people off but bear in mind the savings on fuel and the fact that you get a year's tax for under £30!!! Insurance group is, I believe, typically 8 so very reasonable.
Overall, a great car that is safe, reliable, fun and lowers your CO2 emissions. You can't ask for too much more!