Music of the 60s and 70s is very important to me. It influenced me greatly during the time of my adolescence; 50 years, and more, onwards it is just as special now as it ever was.
So whenever a concert comes along that I would like to see I generally dive into the retirement fund and take the plunge to attend. I recently flew to Melbourne to an amazing Beach Boys concert and I'm hoping that experience will be with me forever.
It was when I was waiting in the airport lounge before flying home that I discovered an Australian magazine I had never seen before, it was simply titled ECOCar and has some rather comprehensive features on the efficiencies of many of today's cars. What makes the magazine so interesting is that the huge variety of models which are represented suggests that most manufacturers are making the effort to produce fuel efficient models and promote fuel usage efficiency.
This evaluation surrounds Toyota's Prius v, which was featured, not surprisingly, in ECOCar, and it rated well with the Aussie commentators. And so it should, the Prius v, as an extension of the original Prius series, lives up to its versatility tag, v represents versatile.
And versatile it is, it is an extended wheelbase version of the Prius as we have come to know it, the v is longer by 135mm, it is a handy wagon with 60 per cent more luggage space than the Prius. There are also two fold down seats in the rear making it three-row, seven-seat compatible.
I've driven a lot of hybrids recently and have certainly come to grips with the experience, so much so that I now relate to and appreciate the concept. And driving a Prius now has never been easier, it rides and drives much like you'd expect from any Toyota, and in i-Tech form the Prius v is loaded with convenience, luxury and safety features.
Most are too extensive to detail but there is little lacking on Prius v i-Tech, I thought I could complain about the lack of seat heaters but I eventually found that switch almost hidden deep in the centre console.
It's the display above which almost overwhelms, there's a host of information to tap into, the dash panel digital readouts have extensive graphics so that the Prius owner/driver can relate to and drive within its design parameters.
One of those, of course, is that of fuel usage. Toyota claim an impressive 4.1-litre per 100km (68mpg) combined cycle figure for the Prius v, the best I could do was 6l/100km (47mpg) which I thought wasn't too bad either.
Not that the engine is constantly using fuel, there are economy, solely electric and power modes which can be selected depending on the type of journey.
That's part of the hybrid experience, the 1.8-litre petrol engine works with an electric motor to share the load, when the engine isn't operating it's obviously using no fuel, although under load the engine operates most of the time.
The Prius v is the first to use a new type of lithium-ion battery, it is smaller, lighter and is sited underneath the centre console. It's location and light weight helps promote a nimble, agile handling feel.
Although there's the constant feel of electronic involvement, the Prius v steers and turns accurately into a corner, there is substantial steering weighting off-centre and controlled body balance.
The Prius v, like its hybrid stablemates, isn't overly quick, an 11.3sec time to make 100km/h from a standstill is indicative of the Prius badge, yet it is completely at ease amongst traffic and will make a highway overtake in respectable time, once the energy from both systems reaches a healthy torque point (207Nm) it will react with genuine momentum.
The Prius v lands here from $50,990 while the s-Tech model lists at $55,490; an additional $10,000 will buy you into the i-Tech variant which really impressed with its level of specification and fitment. It bristles with the gear that lets buyers know that it is just that little bit different, albeit special.
If you've always liked the idea of owning a hybrid but have been put off by having a growing family, then the Prius v may be for you.
It is part of an ever-expanding hybrid range from Toyota which includes the Prius c (compact) and hybrid expansion into the Lexus range. I'd settle for one, the Prius as a brand has come of age.