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In an interesting experiment, two Times correspondents drove from London to Geneva. One of the cars was a Toyota Prius hybrid while the other was a BMW 520D.

The results?

The Prius averaged 40 mpg (48.1 miles per imperial gallon) over the whole journey while the BMW achieved 41.9 mpg (50.3 miles per imperial gallon).

Admittedly, the test wasn’t completely fair. Prius’ strong point is city mileage and the vast majority of the journey was along a fast highway where they drove at 78 miles an hour with a strong headwind. Besides, the BMW ran on diesel which always gives better mileage than petrol (but also emits more CO2). Still, I think it was an interesting experiment and showed that at least some of the claims about the Prius are overstated. 

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