Scroll down the leaderboards of Nürburgring lap times and you'll see mostly racing cars, supercars and sports cars. Delve deep enough and you'll eventually get to hatchbacks and sedans, albeit the most performance-focused of their kind. But a hybrid? Sure, the Porsche 918 Spyder posted the top time for a street-legal series production car, and it's technically a hybrid, but we're talking about another kind of hybrid here. We're talking about a Toyota Prius.

That's right: the Prius just set a lap record around the Nordschleife. But it wasn't for the lap time. In fact, miles per hour barely factored in (except for staying above the minimum 37-mph average speed mandated on the vaunted racing circuit). No, this was about miles per gallon.

Toyota took one of its Prius Plug-In hybrids to the Nürburgring, topped up the battery, put on a set of low-rolling-resistance tires and put automotive journalist Joe Clifford behind the wheel with a mandate to use as little fuel as possible. After one second shy of 21 minutes, the Prius completed its lap having used just five tablespoons of fuel.

In fact, the gasoline engine kicked in just once over the course of the 13-mile lap on a long uphill stretch, helping the Prius achieve an indicated 698 miles per gallon. That's mighty impressive indeed, even if it would have been lapped three times over by the 918 by that point. Watch the video and scope out the press release below for the full skinny.
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Real-world test sets benchmark 698mpg lap

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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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Months Ago
      Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... that just means it can go about 13 miles on a battery charge, which would have made it infinite miles per gallons. =|
        Neil Blanchard
        • 5 Months Ago
        If the battery pack is 4.4kWh (plus 1.3kWh?) then that electricity use = 99MPGe or 76MPGe. That means that about 9/10's of the energy used was electricity, and the 5 Tbl was about 1/10th of the energy used. So, any EV worth it's salt can beat this. It is disingenuous to pretend the electricity doesn't count towards the MPGe.
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Neil Blanchard
          There is only one 4.4kWh pack. EV usage is 85% full to 22% SOC. 63% usable SOC but with charging loss, it takes about 3 kWh for a full charge. That made the electricity use 146 MPGe. If you factor in the gas usage, it got 120 MPGe. PiP is very efficient.
      • 5 Months Ago
      It was a plugin. The Volt can pretty much claim infinity MPG!!111 with this test.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Couldn't Nissan, Tesla, Chevy, Ford, or any other EV manufacturer beat this anytime they wanted?
      • 5 Months Ago
      Is there any point in pointing out that numerous EVs have been around the ring, and not one of them used so much as a single drop of gasoline?
      • 5 Months Ago
      I have no idea why all the hate for the Prius. If you don't like it this doesn't mean it is a bad car. The Prius is very successful.
      • 5 Months Ago
      At least it shattered 21 minutes...
      • 5 Months Ago
      Elon Musk says "Meh."
      • 5 Months Ago
      This MPGE calculations that consider the electric energy stored in batteries like a God given gift is totally moronic. It has become some kind of typical PHEVs selling scam. And ABG should mock everyone does it and not the other way around.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Uhhh...several electric cars have driven Nurburgring without using any gas at all. Sorry Prius, you're a gas guzzler.
      Avinash Machado
      • 5 Months Ago
      Just a gimmick.
      That Guy
      • 5 Months Ago
      So to show how economical this POS hippy mobile is, they take it out and burn a bunch of fuel. Typical liberal hypocrisy.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @That Guy
        Yeah.. those wieners should demonstrate their fuel saving technology by keeping their cars in the showroom. Stupid liberals.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @That Guy
        That Guy actually thinks he made a point. Logic, not part of the conservative brain.
          • 5 Months Ago
          Yeah? LIke 'legitimate rape?"
          • 5 Months Ago
          Just read something funny, and, also some truth in it: If you want to upset a Liberal, use facts and logic.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Your turn GM
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