A weekly look at all that sucks in the automotive industry and some good bits
A friend on Twitter asked my advice recently about the best car to suit her special needs, and three rambunctious kids in the back. In taking a look at alternatives I discovered a survey among private car owners asking what they like the most about their car and what they disliked. Parts of the questionnaire were scientific analysis, parts of the answers anecdotal. The car that came out top by a long chalk was the Toyota Prius.
The Toyota Prius has been one of Toyota’s best sellers ever since it was introduced. It’s a hybrid, half-petrol, half-electric. Instead of a gas bill of £100, you pay £50. Handsome, elegant, highly desirable it is not. I find the new version the Prius 4, severely ugly, and there seems no reason why it was designed in homage to the oddly angular.
I found it frustrating to drive because you cannot see the bonnet line and therefore cannot judge where its nose is, a handicap when parking between cars. However, the interior is very spacious, boot too, and it drives well, and, practical and parsimonious on fuel it is to a high degree.
Stand anywhere in central London and you’ll see an average of thirty pass by in a five minute period, almost all Uber taxis. That means a lot of Prius taxis burning fuel because the untrained driver has no idea where the passenger’s destination lies.
Yes, I know most have an iPhone glued to the windscreen blocking their sight-lines, but you can smell the driver’s lack of confidence. Also, Uber’s profits are not distributed in the UK. They go into back pockets in off-shore accounts. (Revenue in 2018, $11.27 billion USD.) Anyhow, what is so good about the vehicle that it garners so much praise?
Here’s the skinny from the research boffins:
“The hybrid hatch has a wide range of talents. Take running costs. While the Prius is not as cheap to run as a pure-electric car, owners tell us it offers savings elsewhere, such as with insurance (which can be relatively expensive for EVs). You also heap praise on the servicing costs, and our accumulated data places the car a strong third for fuel consumption.
Interestingly, the Prius gains similarly high individual marks for the three elements that make up our engine and gearbox category, suggesting it’s as smooth as it is fast and quiet, and Toyota has refined its hybrid tech impressively. Owners also award high scores for the car’s safety features.
It’s not all good news; you tell us that the sat-nav could be better and the controls could be more user-friendly, and drivers would also like Toyota to tone down the styling inside and out, it seems. But the ratings are not disastrous; certainly not enough to knock the Prius off the top spot. Factor in a smooth ride, an enjoyable driving experience, excellent reliability and impressive levels of perceived quality, and Toyota’s hybrid is clearly a thoroughly deserving winner.”
So there you have it. The Prius is a private driver’s best friend, better than the ubiquitous VW Golf, at least until full-electric cars become cheaper and charging points appear on every lampost. They start around the £23,000 mark new.
Two things to add: 14% of the cars go wrong, usually an electric glitch, but they are stowed oot wi’ good safety features.
Oh, for the nosey, the Lexus IS came in second.
GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS
Police Scotland’s ‘Crappy’ Cars
A Tory member of the Scottish parliament who shall remain nameless because he is personality-less claimed the vehicles of Police Scotland are in such a bad state 349 broke down last year … out of 14,000. That pretty well one a day. He did not say which vehicles or in what way they breakdown, flat tyre, flat battery, burst into flames, ran out of petrol, idiot flatfoot put diesel into the petrol tank, station forgot to put in petrol, poor servicing, driver error, ad infinitum. And how many broke down enroute to an accident or on a car chase? What I noted was, he got his information from the head of the Scottish Police Federation, a man notable for his public outbursts. Calum Steele, general secretary is a man of many clunky outbursts. Here is what he actually said: “The only surprise is that the figures are so low. The condition of much of the police vehicle fleet is nothing short of a disgrace, breakdowns are commonplace and officers routinely highlight that more vehicles are off the road than on it.” Wait – only a few breakdowns yet that constitutes many? Is Steele a member of the same party as the alarmist Tory MSP? Jist askin’.
No matter how nice are cyclists we still hate them. Yesterday, waiting in a line of traffic at the lights, to turn left I wanted into the inside lane. The lane was free, only parked cars at the kerb to worry about. I nosed into the free lane barely a foot and at 2mph, only to see a cyclist doing his ‘I-can-go-any-which-way-I-want’ routine. He suddenly appeared in my blind side. We both stopped moving forward. No one was hurt, we were both being correctly cautious, but I got a bollocking for ‘not looking where I was going’. Dear Cyclist, neither of us had right of way by entitlement, but neither do you have the freedom to weave in, out and around vehicles because you’re on a cycle. And while I’m at it – take a bus. It will be safer.
New York Car Show
Not much to report on this year’s spring show in Noo Yoik, not many goodies, not many jaw-dropping innovative cars. In fact, none at all. You get lots of fanfares in the car press – always desperate for new material – and then it fizzles out stateside. Americans are fairly conservative when it comes to car design. For interesting new concepts the smart turn to Japanese car shows. I’ll concentrate on two developments. Ye olde worlde English creaking Morgan Motor Company, bought over by an Italian group, is to expand its factories – they have 10 acres of land unused – expand their car range, and produce new, more modern models. Three cheers for that. Expect one to be fully electric. The second is Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis. They revealed plans to enter the city car market with the ‘Mint’ concept. (Did they drop ‘Spear’?) Yes, Mint is its name. The all-electric car was dreamt up by the brand’s European, US and Korean design studios and, although no powertrain details have been released, it’s claimed the Mint can cover 200 miles on a single charge. I’ve seen the car and the unusual shape give it road presence, a must if you want to sell cars in any number, so let’s hope it makes a reappearance as a production model. How innovative it is must wait for more information.