Toyota Prius vs. BMW M3

The guys at Top Gear decided to see just which car was more economical.  So the task was to drive the Prius for ten laps around their track as fast as it would go and follow behind in an M3.  The Prius lost in terms of MPG, but the point to be made is that your driving style has as much to do with your fuel economy as the car itself.


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3 Responses to Toyota Prius vs. BMW M3

  1. Noel says:

    The M3 vs Prius video doesn’t run–no longer available– but I can appreciate where they are coming from.

    I rented one in Florida to go from West Palm Beach airport to Boca Raton. Rather than drive like a greenie, I drove normal (for me). I know the Prius will get great mileage if driven sedately, but how does it do if I drive like I usually do? The answer is “quite mediocre.”

    I jumped on the freeway and immediately got in the left lane at my usual 75-85 cruising speed. The trip computer showed me 34-36 mpg. Hmmm. I get 32 in my wife’s ’03 Saab station wagon and 28 in my 12-year old Saab 9000. Both of which have power to spare as opposed to feeling stretched as the Pious did. And they’re comfy to be in. In the Pious the little gas motor was running hard all the time. Accelerating from 65 or 70 mph to 80 was an exercise in noise, vibration and no power!

    Switch to local driving. The road to my client’s office from the hotel–about 5 miles–is a 6-lane parkway, 3 in each direction. Lights every mile or so. Traffic speed is 40-50. Sounds like Pious country, right? Not if you want to keep up with traffic. The gas engine is on all the time. Mileage about 40. My Saabs get 25 in such conditions. Clearly a lot better, and I was admittedly pushing it a bit. A lighter foot would have yielded 45-50 in the right lane.

    Average mileage over 150 miles? About 36 mpg. Nice but hardly great. And at the cost of being in what feels like a small, fairly cheap car. The steering is heavy and numb. Brakes OK. Chassis soft.

    Is this fair? Probably not. But these things are not real cars yet.

  2. Ian Pavey says:

    I saw this nonsense last night in Australia on “Top Gear”. Host Jeremy Clarkson, for the record, is a fairly right-wing character who delights in annoying anyone or anything with environmental aspirations. The test itself is utterly pointless – who drives to work around a race track flat out for ten laps? And of course, comparing a lightly stressed 4 litre BMW against a car doing something which was never designed to be its core function is laughable, pathetic even.

    The point about the Prius, that Clarkson quite dishonestly chooses to ignore, is that it’s really the first commercial iteration of a fairly recent application, and as such was never going to match it with technology that’s been honing itself for 100 years. I’m sure if Clarkson had been hosting “Top Hoof” in the year 1900, he would have poured scorn on the new fangled horseless carriages – noisy, slow, unreliable, dirty, expensive. And those early adopters? What idiots!

    But like computers, mobile phones, refrigerators, you name it – manufacturers, through research and feedback from consumers, plus the economies of large scale production, eventually turn novelty ideas into mainstream household items.

    Here’s a prediction: By 2020, at least 50% of cars on the road will be electric or electric/hybrid, with a plug-in facility. And about half the remainder will be diesel/biodiesel.

  3. jimsgarage says:

    Well stated Ian.

    My cousin, who owns a Prius, and I debate about this quite a bit. With the acquisition of the Prius and modifying their use of a motor vehicle they have dramatically reduced their consumption of petrol. On the order of 50%.

    The one lesson that I would take away from this Top Gear episode is that how you drive is as important as what you choose to drive.


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