Toyota Estima Hybrid

There are currently only two car companies offering hybrid models officially here in Malaysia – Toyota and Honda. Despite the sensitive question of whether Malaysian technicians can maintain a complicated hybrid vehicle, the grey importers have started bringing them in without manufacturer support.

Naza is easily the biggest grey import player in Malaysia, thanks to them holding the largest chunk of Open APs in Malaysia. This 2008 model Toyota Estima Hybrid is currently going for RM 268,000 including a 1 year warranty and the one you see here in these photos has already been sold.

Toyota Estima Hybrid

This is the second generation Estima Hybrid featuring Toyota’s THS-II system. It’s based on a 2.4 litre gasoline engine mated to electric motors which reminds you of the Lexus HS250h and the Camry Hybrid but the implementation here is different – other than the usual front axle motor, there is a motor on the rear axle as well, effectively turning this into an all-wheel drive vehicle, hence the E-Four badge on the rear.

Much like the Camry Hybrid, the 2.4 litre engine is an Atkinson cycle variant, quite different from the one you can find in a normal Camry 2.4. The gasoline engine itself puts out 150 PS and 190Nm of torque. The front electric motor produces 105 PS and 270Nm of torque and goes through a 2.478 reduction gear. The rear motor is of a less powerful variant – 50 PS and 130Nm.

All systems can work together to produce a peak power of 190 PS. It’s not blistering as the vehicle is large. 0 to 100km/h takes 10.8 seconds. Under the 10-15 Japanese test cycle, the Estima Hybrid can achieve 20km per litre.

There is even an exhaust heat recovery system to recover thermal energy from the exhaust and use it to heat engine coolant. This helps reduce engine warm-up time, which enables the engine to shut off earlier when idling (for EV or auto start-stop functions).

Toyota Estima Hybrid

We got to drive the Estima Hybrid around abit, though you could hardly call it a test drive that could produce any kind of evaluation as it was only around the Naza Automall carpark next to the Federal highway. All I can say is I love those Alcantara combination seats that this particular model has!

Like the Prius, the Estima Hybrid has a zero-emissions EV mode so you can drive around your neighbourhood, in a jam, or in a parking lot solely on the motor and NiMH batteries with the engine turned off. The Estima Hybrid was not as quiet in EV mode as the Prius. This is because with such a large interior and the many air conditioning vents required to cool it down, you constantly hear the air conditioner working. It didn’t help that it was such a hot day – I could not touch my E30’s steering for a short period of time once I got into my car to leave the place.

Various new meter indicators attempt to explain to you what’s going on but it’s all in Japanese so I didn’t understand at first, but after driving around a little you can pretty much guess which one tells you the battery level and etc.

Look after the jump for a few photos I snapped of the Estima Hybrid.

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