Let’s begin with three great aspects of the 2015 Toyota Prius c.
First off, as one would expect, it is very fuel-efficient.
Next, its compact dimensions mean it’s highly maneuverable in tight urban spaces. Navigating narrow alleyways or squeezing into “Small Car Only” spots in the underground is a snap with the subcompact Toyota.
Third, the “Tangerine Splash Pearl” paint of this test car contains more vitamin C than a carton of Tropicana.
Okay, that last part is clearly a fabrication, but as the week went by, I found the hue of this car dominated most of the conversations around it.
“Hey, who’s driving that orange thing?” and “Wow, that sure is a bright colour!” most commonly preceded, “What car is that anyway?”
While the Prius c’s larger sibling (known just as Prius) has a more distinctive Priusness to its visage, it would seem most casual observers think someone driving Toyota Canada’s smallest hybrid painted orange are simply attention-seeking frugal shoppers.
That paint also earned this Prius c a number of names too. A weekend visit to my parents’ place across the province had my mom calling it a little pumpkin on wheels. My five-year-old son thought it looked like a Pokémon. But I think it’s best if we call it Clementine. It’s cute and sweet and good for you, and the burgers, cigarettes and Budweiser crowd just don’t get the appeal of it.
But to the crowd who buys certifiably organic and sustainable Arabica beans from the fancy roaster place in their major urban centre, this most affordable hybrid is a desirable choice. To these hip or hipster young, urban Canadians, the Prius c shows both fiscal and environmental responsibility to their most judgmental peers.
“I know you’d rather take your bicycle but sometimes you just need a car, so good for you for selecting a Prius.”
It’s like choosing to adopt a blind rescue dog and wear recycled burlap pants made by homeless war refugees. Who could criticize such socially upstanding behavior? And certainly if you plan to drive primarily in a congested urban centre, the Prius c (the “c” standing for “city”) really is a noble choice.
Thanks to Toyota’s well-proven Hybrid Synergy Drive system, here with a 1.5L inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle, Clementine happily putters around in dense traffic, doing its thing. That thing could be getting you to and from the St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday afternoon, dodging pedestrians, bikes and Blue Jays fans, propelled by the engine, the 144 volt nickel-metal hydride battery-powered motor or a combination thereof. You’ll impress no one, but neither will you be called an ostentatious show-off either. Plus, that orange paint makes you as visible as traffic pylon, helping the cell-phone-distracted drivers to avoid running into you.
At slow speed, the EV mode allows the Prius c to deplete only battery juice, and in Eco mode, I found the car eager to avoid sipping fuel whenever possible at the expense of what precious little throttle response one might find in Normal mode.