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Prius Plug-in sets one of the slowest lap records of all time

The Toyota sets a snail’s pace and a mark for hyperefficiency around Germany's famed Nurburgring.

By James_Tate Jul 16, 2014 8:39AM

Ladies and gentlemen, do not start your engines.

While the Nurburgring Nordschleife usually conjures images of supercars careening around Karussell or barreling down the Dottinger Hohe straight at speeds exceeding 200 mph, British automotive journalist Joe Clifford raced a plug-in hybrid on the famous track at the slowest possible speed.

Now a new name can be added to the pantheon of record-setting vehicles at the Nurburgring: the Toyota Prius Plug-in.

Clifford's Toyota-sponsored stunt lap in a Prius Plug-in fitted with TRD parts (for style, none performance enhancing) clocked in at a whopping 20 minutes, 59 seconds, or 14 minutes behind the Porsche 918 Spyder. In that time, you could watch half an episode of "Big Bang Theory" before the Prius even finished a lap. Obviously, no speed records were set, but the lap saw the Prius Plug-in return 698 mpg -- a high mark in efficiency that will be hard to beat.

Clifford’s Plug-in with its lithium-ion battery and 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine set out to complete the 12.9-mile Nordschleife in real-world conditions: It drove among regular traffic during a public session, while complying with the track’s 60 kph (37 mph) minimum speed requirement.

Theoretically, it was conceivable that the Prius Plug-in could make the Nordschleife run without using any fuel. In practice, the hilly nature of the Nürburgring forced the Prius Plug-in to turn on its engine.

“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," Clifford said. "In fact it was only on one long climb that the petrol engine cut in, and then only for a short while.” That hillclimb used less than five tablespoons of fuel, leading to the impressive 698 mpg figure for the Nordschleife run, one that far outstrips the Prius Plug-in’s Environmental Protection Agency-combined cycle rating of 95 mpg on both gas and electric modes.

There’s no word of anyone preparing to challenge this new Nürburgring record, but Clifford sees room for improvement and said that had his engine stayed off, “we might have even achieved the ultimate 999.9 mpg read-out -- the highest figure the display can show.”

[Source:; photo via] 

Jul 16, 2014 10:10AM
The sad thing is that they also run the public roads at record slow speeds.  If there is a line of cars backed up, it is getting to be that there is automatically a Prius at the front.  I know your "range" is about half what is advertised, but please move your electric behind out of the left lane.
Jul 16, 2014 11:51AM
I owned a tiny little Porsche 914 (I know, a VW really) with a 5 speed transmission that regularly got over 40 MPG on this highway over 40 years ago.  It doesn't seem to me that a whole of lot of MPG improvement has really happened in the last 20 years.
Jul 16, 2014 10:57AM
We are on our second Prius ( 257K miles on #1 and about 88K on #2).  If traffic is backed up, it is the driver, not the Prius.  Traveling I-95 to and from our vacation home in SC, running about 75MPH, we are often passed by other Prius drivers that apparantly do not worry about tickets. For that 257K we got 47.5 MPG and are currently running about 50 on #2.  Yes we do a lot of highway miles at the speed limit (plus a little).
Jul 16, 2014 11:14AM
Note to automakers: Set these records in a completely un-altered/non-modified vehicle, and I'll be impressed.
Jul 16, 2014 10:07AM
*sigh* gods my truck eats allot of fuel.
Jul 16, 2014 11:19AM
in front of every traffic jam, there is a prius.  prius drivers somehow feel entitled to drive slowly in passing lanes
Jul 16, 2014 10:24AM
Ok first off - "Toyota sponsored event" says it all. Crap publicity stunt for a worthless pos. Why not run a Tesla around the track and see what performance really can be gotten from an electric. These Prius are nothing but eco-Nazis slowing down everyone else on the road, no wonder it took over 20 minutes to run a lap.
Jul 18, 2014 5:30AM
The Prius driving range on battery is about 12 miles, followed by a 2 hour recharge period.  Although its gas mileage is impressive - you're going to be using that conventional 4 cylinder engine a lot.  If you like electric, the only real option for long range driving is the hydrogen fuel cell.  I don't see any big break through in conventional battery technology in the near future.
Jul 16, 2014 10:39AM
I'd love to see the MPG if it drove flat out.  Doubt it would be quite so good.  They also did not factor in the value of the electricity from charging.

As for slow drivers, I have far more problems with old people and cell phones than hybrids.  Glad I don't live in the midwest anymore, where every other male driver thinks they need their McPickup
Jul 18, 2014 5:19AM

Only a Prius could make the Nurburgring so boring.


The Prius is absolutely fantastic at what it does so I certainly respect it for that.  I know many people that have one and love it, but absolutely none of them mention driving enjoyment or performance as one of their buying criteria.  Why send the car to Nurburgring though?  There are so many Prius owners out there proving the car's great fuel efficiency every day on their daily commutes.  For people that want to save gas, they're already sold on the Prius.  This event is funny (unintentioanlly?) positive press for Toyota though.

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