Toyota Prius laps the Nurburgring, records a 698mpg fuel consumption figure

Article by Christian A., on July 16, 2014

Nurburgring is the place where all major carmakers test their cars but also their latest hypercars in order to see which one is the fastest. Three digits records are not something new at the Nurburgring and every time we see reports about speed and miles per hour. But what about miles per gallon?

Apparently, we have a response for this too, as Toyota took its Prius Plug-in hybrid to the iconic German racetrack in order to see not how fast the car can go, but how little fuel it uses on a single lap. For those who don’t know, the minimum average speed on the Nurburgring is 60 km/h (37 mph), while the length is 20 km or 12.9 miles.

The vehicle, which was upgraded with the addition of TRD parts, was driven by motoring journalists and Japanese car expert Joe Clifford. According to Toyota, he managed to complete the lap in 20 minutes and 50 seconds, while recording an impressive 698mpg (0.4 l/100 km).

This is absolutely impressive, taking in consideration that the combined fuel consumption of the Prius is 134 mpg (2.1 l/100 km). The Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle petrol engine that delivers 136 hp and also carries a compact, rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) is made in 10.4 seconds, while top speed is limited at 180 km/h or 111.8 mph.

Toyota targets to set a new miles-per-gallon record at the Nurburgring without resorting to tricky body works or technical modifications. The Japanese carmaker is fielding a standard Toyota Prius Plug-in to undergo a genuine real-world test, with the car moving through traffic during a public session while meeting all the circuit rules that include a minimum average speed of 60 km/h.

On paper, the 60 km/h minimum average speed requirement as well as the 12.9-mile long circuit puts the act just within the all-electric range that Toyota published for the Prius Plug-in. Notably, its performance is intended to meet the daily driving requirement of urban drivers. Thus, in theory, the Prius Plug-in could complete 12.9 miles of the circuit without even consuming a drop of petrol.

Assigned to get behind the wheel of the Prius Plug-in during the 12.9-mile run is automotive journalist and Japanese car expert Joe Clifford. The Prius Plug-in in the project is a standard unit that Clifford recently upgraded with styling elements from TRD, which means that it doesn’t have any additional parts that could make it more fuel-efficient.

The 12.9-mile drive was done in dry, breezy conditions, and Clifford’s Prius Plug-in managed to complete the lap in 20 minutes and 59 seconds while recording a fuel economy number of 698 mpg – more the five times the vehicle’s combined cycle figure of 134 mpg. In its conventional fuel equivalent, 698 mpg meant that the Prius Plug-in consumed less than five tablespoons of fuel to complete the lap.

This feat was achieved thanks to a development of Toyota's full hybrid system that makes use of a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle petrol engine and a compact, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The battery was design to offer a performance and energy density that allows the all-electric mode of the Prius Plug-in to be driven at greater distance and higher speeds than a standard Prius.

Press Release

LOWER, NOT FASTER FOR TOYOTA AS PRIUS PLUG-IN SETS FIRST NüRBURGRING RECORD FOR FUEL ECONOMY

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.

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.

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.

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