Prius and Mirai test drive: Cool cars you want to drive

Marianne V. Go - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It is not often one gets invited to the Tokyo Motor Show and gets to test drive the all-new Toyota Prius hybrid and the fuel cell Mirai.

But Toyota Motor Philippines this year invited several motoring writers, business editors, and columnists to witness for themselves the latest offerings and technologies being developed by the leading Japanese carmaker at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show, now held every two years in Tokyo, Japan.

However, aside from merely seeing the static display of new technology driven and concept cars, Toyota also chose to give invited writers the chance to drive the new and improved Prius and the fuel-cell Mirai at no less than the famous Fuji International Speedway!

Unfortunately, the added bonus of seeing the majestic  Mt. Fuji was not to be as the weather was overcast and cloudy.

Still, for one day, this writer got the chance to drive the all new Prius and Mirai at the Fuji International Speedway and feel even for a couple of short minutes what it feels like to drive in a world class speedway in the latest technology-driven cars.

Not having had the privilege to drive the very expensive and limited Prius  in the Philippines, it turned out to be a very pleasurable test drive. And based on that test drive and…if I had the money, I would definitely buy!

Just to assure the readers that it is not a lopsided assessment, I was also given the opportunity to test drive the current generation Prius.

I assure you, if you are a current generation Prius owner (like our very own STAR associate editor Doreen Yu), you  would definitely want to trade up to the all-new Prius.

Toyota launched the first generation Prius in December 1997 featuring a new drive system that combines a gas engine and an electric motor.

Having perfected the hybrid technology, Toyota has fine-tuned the mechanics of the all-new Prius. If the current generation Prius is already considered “quiet”, the all-new Prius barely whispers – engine/motor noise is almost non-existent if compared to the current generation.

The power of the new Prius has also been upgraded a notch taking in the twisting and curving Fuji International Speedway with ease.

A simulated slalom course at a moderate speed of 50 kph demonstrated the grip of the all-new Prius as did an ascending, curve at 70 to 90 kph.

A flat-out straightaway at 100 kph gave the sensation of being a Formula 1 race car driver speeding past the public bleachers.

A simulated rough patch showed how cushioned the new Prius is, but the icing on the cake is the new dashboard and futuristic speedometer display which shows the speed reflected on the windshield so that the driver can keep his eyes firmly on the road!

With the hybrid battery considerably reduced and relocated under the passenger seat, a more ample baggage space has been freed up.


With increasing concern about the environment and climate change, developing even more environment-friendly and sustainable fuel has taken the forefront in the automotive sector.

Carmakers are, thus, now experimenting with alternative technology such as fuel cell technology.

Toyota’s own attempt is the “Mirai” which in Japanese means the future.

Toyota’s fuel cell system uses hydrogen as fuel to generate electricity, enabling the Mirai to achieve superior environmental performance without emitting carbon dioxide or other harmful substances during driving.

Although the Mirai will initially be made available only in Japan and in the US, we were still given the opportunity to test-drive the fuel-cell driven sedan which, however, seats only four passengers compared to the more advanced hybrid Prius.

However, the Mirai proved to be just as easy to handle, belying its still relatively new technology.


One fun test drive was Toyota’s new concept in urban mobility, the i-Road, which combines the potential of both cars and motorbikes.

The i-Road is a three-wheeler with motorcycle-like maneuverability that is intended only for short-distance travel and can carry one adult and a child. It can reach a top-speed of 60 kph.

It was definitely a fun ride, but unfortunately for the Philippine market may not be available for some time to come.

In terms of concept cars, Toyota also displayed its cute “Kikai” bantam car, the C-HR concept and S-FR.

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