Can't afford an EV, how about a hybrid?
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When looking for a new car, more New Zealanders are considering energy efficient replacements, such as electric vehicles and hybrids.
However, the reality is that EVs are several years away from being a realistic option for many of us, mainly because of the high purchase cost and perceptions of insufficient overall range. On the other hand, hybrids are considered a sensible alternative as they offer excellent efficiency at a cheaper price. So if you’re considering making the move, here are three new hybrids available today:
Toyota Prius c GX
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Toyota’s original Prius was big news when it became the world’s first mass production hybrid 23 years ago. It’s now a tried and tested urban shuttle, the go-to option for taxi drivers.
The Prius c is the smaller variant, and adopts the same Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) system that’s been developed over the decades. It’s powered by a small 1.5 Atkinson Cycle engine, and has a combined power output of 73.6 kW and the battery is a nickel-metal Hydride (Ni-MH) unit which is tucked under the back seat out of view.
The entry model sports basic mod cons such as Bluetooth connectivity for music streaming, but also more advanced features like voice recognition and, despite its size, it still manages a respectable boot capacity of 260 litres with all the seats up.
Toyota Corolla Hybrid GX
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The Toyota Corolla is often the go-to safe choice for many Kiwis, and the latest Hybrid version is enticing with its added frugal appeal.
The Corolla’s biggest drawcard is the Toyota Safety Sense system which has a suite of safety-related features including Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and a Pre-Collision System, which not only detects and avoids accidents with vehicles, but bikes and pedestrians, too. It even has a system that detects road signs and warns you to stick to the speed limit.
The Corolla uses the same battery technology and (HSD) technologies as the Prius c and its combined power output is 90kW. At 1.8 litres, the Corolla Hybrid has the biggest engine out of the cars on our list, yet offers the smallest luggage room (208 litres with the seats up).
Kia Niro EX
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This car is pitched as a compact SUV, but it probably looks more like a jacked-up hatch to most of us. Nevertheless, the 160mm of ground clearance is useful for getting in and out of the car, particularly if you have mobility issues.
The Base EX model has modern features, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Safety-wise, it includes features such as Lane Keep Assist, Lane Change Assist and autonomous emergency braking. The Niro uses a 1.6 litre Kappa engine which, combined with the electric motor, produces a power output of 136kW.
Unlike the Toyotas, the Niro uses Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery technology and utilises a six-speed dual clutch transmission over the CVT type found in Toyotas.
In terms of space, it’s well ahead of the other two with 401 litres of seats-up storage. The Niro would be a good choice if you’re after something a bit different and you desire an elevated driving position.
So, should I go hybrid?
New car figures from last year suggest there’s a growing interest in hybrid models in New Zealand. In 2018, 2140 new hybrid vehicles were registered — which increased by more than 175 per cent last year. 2020 should prove another good year for hybrid vehicles, with models such as the Hyundai Ioniq (also available as an EV) just around the corner.
If you’re in the market for a new car and want to keep an eye on your carbon footprint, there are many hybrids now available worth considering.
*TDP = Toyota Driveaway Price