I was convinced even more so to do my part for the environment after listening to Jane Goodall on TED. And 2 years ago, the government announced a temporary tax break for hybrid cars below 2000 cc. This will end in 2013 if no more extension is given or I suspect, if Proton starts producing hybrid or electric cars. Then, early this year, a new but smaller Prius C was launched. A few months ago, I found out that the local Toyota Service Centre is now able to service the car. Before that, the nearest centre was in Penang. We test drove both models and decided to get the smaller Prius.
Okay, what I like about the Prius C. It comes with lots of cool stuff. The first which goes without saying is the fuel consumption. One tank easily lasts me for the whole month, and even beyond. No more going to the petrol kiosk every week. Don't like the fumes at the petrol kiosk. Prius C meets the stringent California emission laws too. So I know I am getting more for less. I know the extra paid for the car will never quite make up for the fuel but it's nice to know that I am reducing my carbon footprint. Anyway, I find it amazing that it's 36-litre tank can get me all the way from JB to Alor Setar (almost 800 km)!
The second is the smart key system. It took some getting used to, but to be able to just walk up to the car, open the door, press a button and then start driving is quite, quite convenient. No more rummaging through the pockets or handbag for the key. The car is super silent too. The only way you know that the engine is up and running is the dashboard lights up. There is no familiar roar of the engine. If you listen hard enough, you might just notice a silent whirring sound. The car glides almost very silently under low speeds of below 40 km. If you are on foot, you might just hear the sound of the wheels crunching the gravel on the road. Many a times, I see my students being startled in the morning when they realize that a car was coming up behind them. Lol!
And locking is just as easy. One swipe or touch on the door handle and the car locks. Keyless entry has been around for quite some time but it's usually found in the more expensive cars. We used to eye it in the Nissan Latio 1.8 a few years ago.
The dashboard is cool too. I learn that my driving style is generally quite economical but there is room for improvement. It has all these charts, graphs and information to tell you that you are driving right (or wrong). I find myself trying to improve my scores very often. Driving becomes like a game cos the charts keep score - you get instant gratification. People go for that these days, the instant thingy.
The sound system is good too. And the best thing is I can plug in my iPhone and listen to whatever that I've stored in them. Current flavour is TED. I've learned new stuff like liquid metal batteries, birth control, how an engineer repaired his own heart, releasing creativity, the Arab Spring and even the uniqueness of the tissues that make up a male anatomy. LOL! And they are delivered by the best in the world, MIT professors, thinkers, movers and shakers of the world! I know I will probably be moving on to something else soon but to be able to plug in and learn while I drive. This morning I listened to Jamie Oliver talk about food. Awesome!
Safety wise this small and compact car comes with 7 airbags. So I guess that makes it safer than most cars, The space at the back seats is quite narrow but that should be quite okay with me since most of the time, it's for me to drive to work and to be my gal's driver. BTW, it's silent only when it runs on electric mode. At higher speeds, you hear the engine sounds. It took some getting used to, pressing the Power On button and not hearing the whir of the engine. When you power up, the electric motor kicks in, hence the lack of an engine roar.
The Prius C is a compact car but it's zippy enough. We actually tested its bigger bro, the Prius V but settled on this because we thought the latter felt sluggish, though it comes with even more cool stuff. Price wise there is quite a hefty difference too.
One more thing I learned from the salesman... in towns away from the bigger cities like KL or Penang, Prius C doesn't sell well. It seems people still want size for the amount paid for the car. Spending more for the environment - still a long way to go.