Toyota Prius C Compact Hybrid Used Buyer’s Guide

In recent months we have been reading quite a lot of news about UMW Toyota’s active move towards a large hybrid model range for Malaysia. In July this year they even announced the start of local assembled hybrid vehicles in Malaysia with an initial commitment of RM270 million.

Then in September this year UMW Toyota confirmed the local-assembly of a Hybrid compact sedan and a crossover. All this means that buying a used hybrid will not be a long term problem as after-sales and spare parts will be readily available.

So, this is why we are looking at the possibility of buying a used Toyota Prius C. Yes, the ‘C’ was the small compact hatch from Toyota that was imported in to challenge the Honda Insight hybrid. The Insight was launched in 2010 for RM98,000 and it was hybrid that competed with the larger 1.8L powered Prius hatchback.

The Prius C was Toyota’s entry level hybrid model that arrived in Malaysia in February 2012 for RM97,000.

It was equipped with a sensible and common used 1.5 litre petrol engine with a 45 kilowatt motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine and motor worked in tandem to produce a combined power output of 101 PS.

If this setup seems familiar, it is the same as the one used on the second generation Prius, although the electric motor in the Prius C is slightly smaller than in the Prius. Like the Prius, the Prius C has an EV (Electric Vehicle) mode which allows you to run on battery alone unless you require heavy acceleration or want to exceed a certain speed.

In normal operation, the Prius C uses the motor as much as it possibly can for starting off, and if the driver requires more acceleration the engine will start up and begin to provide power.

This means two things, there is smooth, quiet acceleration and a large increase in fuel efficiency as the engine is required less often. The battery is charged via regenerative braking, which is where the efficiency is improved.

One of the features in the Prius C that filtered down from the Prius is the multi functional display screen located in the middle of the dashboard. This screen offers you information that will help to optimize your driving style for efficiency- there are screens that display your 5-minute fuel consumption figures, ECO Score and the flow of energy. 

The mechanical specifications of the PRIUS c TRD Sportivo (launched in November 2012 for RM104,000) and PRIUS c are the same, and are also powered by the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive which integrates the operation of a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT).

In certain driving conditions, it is also possible for the car to run entirely on its Electric Vehicle mode (EV mode), consuming no petrol at all. This is why this car has a rated fuel efficiency of just 3.7-liters on a combined 100 kilometers drive cycle.

Today, the Prius C has one issue with any used buyer, it is the hybrid battery. Well, the replacement battery cost is about RM6,000 and this is a stumbling block for many buyers as it is a cash buy and not something you can pay in monthly installments. 

So, what is the used price today? Well, prices start from RM20,999 to RM28,000 for a 2012 to 2014 model.

Next comes the question to buy or not? Well, this is a compact Toyota that we believe to be a close relative in terms of design and drivetrain to the current Perodua Myvi.

If you parked a new Myvi next to a Prius C, you will notice many similarities. Inside, the Prius C cabin is simple yet functional and well built. This is a great little city commuter car and poses no issues on the highway either. The boot space may be small and the rear headroom challenging for basketball players, but it offers decent comfort for a young adult or the starter family.

Running costs for the 1.5L petrol engine is no issue, parts aplenty and there are a few hybrid battery specialists you can find on Facebook who offer decent pricing of between RM900.00 to RM3,000 for hybrid cell replacement.

We suggest you invest in a brand new battery if needed. Most used Prius C’s in the used market have an original battery and this is why the used price is low. At a higher price, you are getting a new battery and another 7-9 years of trouble free hybrid running.

Possible issues with a well maintained one owner used unit? Well, there were issues with the intelligent power module unit in the early years which was sorted out by dealers with a software upgrade and A/C compressor failure which was replaced with a better unit. The rest of this car is actually trouble free however it is best to get the car checked at a Toyota dealer to make sure the hybrid system and battery is running well. This is where the selling price differs from RM20k to RM28k.

Next question, is there a NEW Prius C coming? Well, the latest version, which is called the ‘Aqua’ in Japan was launched in July this year and this could be the base for the hybrid Myvi which has been rumored. We shall wait and see. 

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