Toyota Prius Plug-in records a 698mpg lap of the Nürburgring

Three-digit records are nothing new at the Nürburgring, the go-to location when car manufacturers want to prove the pace of their latest models, but until now, these feats have always been about miles per hour, not miles per gallon. Toyota turned tradition on its head when it took its Prius Plug-in hybrid to the track, setting out to show not how fast the car could go, but just how little fuel it could use on a single lap of the notorious Nordschliefe.

A first-of-a-kind Nürburgring record was in its sights, but with no help from any clever technical tweaks or trick bodywork. Instead, Toyota designed a genuine, real-world test with the car running in traffic during a public session and complying with all the circuit rules, including the 60km/h minimum average speed.

On paper, both the speed requirement and the circuit length (12.9 miles) put the feat within the all-electric EV range Toyota quotes for Prius Plug-in, performance designed to meet the day-to-day driving demands of urban commuters. In theory, the distance could be covered without a drop of petrol being used.

Motoring journalist and Japanese car expert Joe Clifford was tasked with the driving duties, taking the wheel of a standard Prius Plug-in he has recently upgraded with the addition of TRD parts – styling rather than performance elements that improved the car’s appearance rather than made it more fuel-efficient.

Prius-Plug-in-TRD-590 1

In dry, breezy conditions, he recorded 698mpg, completing his lap in 20 minutes and 59 seconds. This far outstrips the car’s official combined cycle figure of 134mpg; in fact the Toyota used less than five tablespoons of fuel to do the job.

Those fuel economy figures in full

Liters per 100 km = 0,4 l/km
Kilometer per liter = 247,1 km/l

Miles per gallon = 581,21 mpg
Gallons per 100 miles = 0,17 g/100m

Miles per gallon = 698 mpg
Miles per litre = 153,54 mpl

The technology that made this feat possible is a development of Toyota’s full hybrid system that matches a 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a compact, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The battery’s performance and excellent energy density means the car can be driven further and at higher speeds on electric power alone than the standard Prius.

Clifford said: “We used no special tricks for this test. We simply took a fully charged car, fitted it with low rolling resistance tyres and drove the lap, among all the other public drivers taking the opportunity to experience the challenge of the Nürburgring.

“Although the 12.9-mile distance is similar to a typical commuter trip, the difference here is a rise and fall in elevation of around 1,000 feet. In fact it was only on one long climb that the petrol engine cut in, and then only for a short while. Without that, we think we might have even achieved the ultimate 999.9mpg read-out – the highest figure the display can show.

Prius Plug-in’s achievement adds to the history of Toyota’s Nürburgring success, including lap records for its EV P001 and P002 electric vehicles. More importantly, this latest test relates directly to what customers might experience with their own vehicle in day-to-day journeys. In a neat link to the record-breaking exploits of the EV P002, the battery cells from that car were used to power up the Prius Plug-in, via Toyota Motorsports’ charging truck.

See also:
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project: Part 1 – Wheel and tyre package
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project: Part 2 – Front suspension setup
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project: Part 3 – Rear suspension setup and wheel alignment
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project: Part 4 – TRD accessories
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project: Part 5 – Rear spoiler
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project: Part 6 – Front and rear bumper spoilers
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD project Flickr album
Toyota Prius Plug-in TRD Nürburgring record Flickr album

Comments (4)

  1. John’s experience reflects mine, (25 months use) max electric range is 11.8 in the summer and 10ish in the winter, I understand the range will change with ambient temperature and use of electrical subsidiaries. I guess I expected this “error” in range for the same reason that published mpg is rarely real world. Overall I am getting 100mpg (29k miles). My commute is 19 miles each way mostly on slow motorway so I always exhaust the battery on the way there, unless outside rush hour when the speed means I’m over 58 mph. I am attracted to the plug in Outlander with a 30 mile electric range. I wonder if Toyota have given up on electric car hybrid development as BMW seem to have leapfrogged them as well with the i3?

    1. Hi Patrick
      Thanks for your post and for your feedback regarding Prius Plug-in ownership.
      We wanted to reply to pick up on the last point you make regarding Plug-in hybrid development. We do not have any news at present regarding a new Plug-in Prius hybrid unfortunately but what we can say is that if you look back at the development and evolution of the Prius, each new model represents a new hybrid system which delivers more in terms of power, lower emissions and better fuel economy. As battery and hybrid technology continues to develop, so too would the efficiency of these systems including Plug-in hybrid. Hope this helps clarify a bit further and do stay tuned to our Blog for the latest news.

  2. Whilst fully appreciating that range depends on driving style, the terrain, and even the weather, I have to report my own experience (which co-incides with several others I have read on the internet) that, in 14 months of ownwership, the battery range has never been near the advertised 15.5 miles. It started at 12.6 miles indicated, about 11.5 actual, deteriorated to as low as 8.8 miles indicated, and has now “settled” at 9.9 indicated, about 10.5-11 miles actual.
    Whilst this is still very convenient (I’ve had as high as 133 mpg over a 5-week period of almost all local motoring), I consider it a much greater than expected shortfall from the advertised figure. My question is:- Do Toyota have any plans (modification / upgrade in development) to correct this situatio to offer to existing Plug-in Prius owners?

    1. Hi John
      Thank you for your post.
      We have seen your comments and will be investigating this matter further with our Customer Relations team for you so we can provide a more detailed technical explanation. We have your email address from your post and will reply to this directly next week. If you have any other questions please let us know.

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