New Prius Takes To The Open Roads

New Prius that's just as suited to the open road as it is to the urban sprawl.

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The country’s answer to Route 66

Skirting the far reaches of the British Isles, Scotland’s new tourist route, the North Coast 500 (NC500), is hoping to become the country’s answer to Route 66.

The 516-mile journey offers visitors ‘fairytale castles, beaches and ruins’ linked by fantastic, world-class driving roads. And just as America’s historic Route 66 attracts car and motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world, Scotland hopes the NC500 will boost the Highlands economy by millions. “From our enchanting wildlife and countless historic attractions, the Highlands is a true touring paradise,” said VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay when the route was launched in 2014.

Since then, the NC500 has become one of the most talked about driving routes on earth, gaining global media coverage and praise. Behind the venture is the North Highland Initiative (NHI), an organisation founded by Prince Charles to promote some of Scotland’s finest coastal scenery. Its never-ending back roads wind through view after staggering view and snow-capped mountain ranges revealing a catalogue of dramatic cliffs, beautiful lochs and miles of empty white sandy beaches.

New Prius Hybrid Technology

To get the most out of the NC500, where weather conditions are subject to change from moment to moment, switching suddenly from glorious sun to brooding cloud or even snow and ice, far from normal city driving. This requires a capable, agile vehicle that’s enjoyable to drive.

It also needs a good range. Petrol stations are few and far between in the northernmost sections and drivers are warned to carry extra fuel cans if necessary.

Fortunately, we are driving the New Toyota Prius. As well as a striking new look, upgrades for 2016 include fourth-generation Toyota hybrid technology which has improved the car’s range and drivability.

The world's favourite hybrid

The Prius is the world’s favourite hybrid, with more than 3.5 million sold since Toyota produced the first model almost two decades ago. The new model is based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. TNGA is a revolutionary new way of making cars and will form the foundation for all new Toyota vehicles. This means new models will share platforms and many components, streamlining production. As a result, Toyota cars will be safer and better to drive thanks to a lower centre of gravity.

For the New Prius, this means a new, spacious cabin and a modern, angular body shape that makes it one of the most aerodynamic production cars on sale. It also means something else: fun. The Prius has a well-earned reputation as a super-efficient town car but this new version is built for open-road driving too. A lap of the NC500 will give the car a chance to really stretch its legs and show what it can do.

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