Jumping into the new Toyota Prius for the first time had me instantly taking a step back in time… to Saturday morning cartoons.
No, not the Road Runner, although I do still eagerly await the episode where Coyote gets his prize catch.
I’m talking about the Jetsons and, more specifically, that opening scene of George buzzing about their space city in the family space car.
More than 30 years after I first imagined suburban space travel was only a few years away from reality and here I was, sitting in the closest thing to that being a reality.
And … wait for it… I was blown away.
The engine wasn’t even going… or was it? Hard to tell, to be honest, and I was impressed with the new Prius.
It’s not like I haven’t been in or driven a Prius before. After all, the world’s biggest selling hybrid has been around for 18 years.
But not like this. Not with this style. Not with the genuinely good driving performance found in its latest incarnation.
The local drive-thru bottleshop is a pretty good barometer for style, I’ve found. And the looks , and questions, the Prius attracted on this latest test drive did not carry the “how’s your vacuum cleaner go?” theme I’ve had before with hybrids.
Sure, some comments across my week of driving the Prius were accompanied by a raised eyebrow and reflected another ‘80s classic that ran alongside my Jetsons cartoon watching: “What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?’’
Not only does the space-age looking Prius wear an aerodynamic skin which is not, in my eyes, unattractive (remember function over looks is a must) but the interior styling is somewhat groovy, if not out of this world.
And the technology under the bonnet is, without question, world leading.
The latest Prius is more efficient, but has less power, than its predecessor. The 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine produces 73kW compared with the previous 100kW, while the electric motor drops from 73kW to 53kW.
But the Prius does a good job of carrying off a sporty feel on the road, and around town has plenty of instant power to enjoy that handling.
I’d almost go as far to say that the only thing missing to clench the sports feel for this hybrid is the accompanying roar the engine. Instead, you typically get a Jetsons’ sounding “whoosh”.
And the price of $34,990 is also not out of this world for this technology and the commitment to this world a buyer makes.