Thursday, 1 October 2009
Which would you rather drive on the Federal Highway in Kuala Lumpur at 6pm on weekdays?
Hmmm...another Toyota Prius (3rd gen) versus Honda Civic Hybrid IMA shootout?
Look closer...the Civic unit above is a plain vanilla Civic 1.8 i-VTEC, a perennial top seller in its segment for these couple of years in Malaysia. The comparo is unintentional but makes for delectable food-for-thought that for RM115k versus RM175k (no prize for guessing which is which), many of us 'smart' consumers and motorists alike would be better off saving the RM60,000. More than enough for petrol costs for over say, the 5 - 7 years of motoring/hire-purchasing? I think someone has this base covered with the Civic hybrid versus Civic 1.8 sometime back and he's with a popular online news portal now. Anyway, keep your little calculator stashed away, you can never compute the RM60,000 in savings unless you drive the Prius to Mars and back over 10 years.
I would have totally agreed to the above had it not for the massively unpredictable (or is it unpredictably massive?) traffic jams on our Federal Highway during rush hours. Or after a traffic accident on either side of the highway capable of causing both sides to just choked up! Ironically, sometimes for no noticeable reason at all.
Looking at the rather feminine Prius outlook (especially in pearl white, as above), I was totally taken a back when I found it cool to be caught in traffic jams. Yes totally cool...figuratively and literally. The DC motorised airconditioner compressor totally rocks with its whisper cooling, even when the combustion engine is not running.
Furthermore, if you have tried a DC inverter airconditioner at home you'd realised that there's no off-cycle to the cooling. Say, even if you set at 26 deg Celcius, the air vents will still blow cool air on a cold morning albeit at a lower 'concentration'. No more sticky, stale (occasionally moldy/smelly) or that transient warmer air blowing when the regular crank-belt-driven A/C compressor of an automobile (or regular home alternating current A/C compressor) cuts off. Lovely.
The 3rd gen Prius is mighty impressive at start up. After the Ni-Mh battery pack has warmed up, the vehicle is totally silent as you reverse out of your car porch. Zero emissions for the part of (cold-start) driving that's most polluting. Of course, the Civic Hybrid (2nd gen) has a part-time electric A/C compressor that works in stationary condition - at traffic lights - but once you get moving again, the engine has to restart. That's what termed as soft-hybrid i.e. with a small electric motor. Not for the latest Prius when you do say 10 km/h - and most of the period in a bumper-to-bumper crawl - dependent on load and state of battery charge of course. It's a great feeling to see the onboard computer reading 0l/100km/h of fuel consumption in a traffic snarl!
For those interested (who's not these days?) in fuel efficiency facts, the Prius' on-board computer displayed an average figure of 5.6l/100km. With some hard driving, mostly calm cruising, the tripmeter was reading 514.7km + another 136km to go before empty. Isn't this so darn cool too?
Now you can't chill out so much in a regular Civic 1.8, can you? :)