Toyota’s hybrid car Prius has gained a cult following over the years, helped by celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore.
In its earlier incarnation, it was one of the first so-called ‘green’ vehicles on the road.
Now, the third-generation Prius has raised its environmental credentials further.
Fuel economy improves 10% to 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions are
89g/km, down 14%, making this a road tax-free car.
Around 90% of its components have been redesigned for a lighter, more compact and efficient full hybrid system. Despite these improvements, power has increased by 24% to 134bhp. There are three drive modes, EV, ECO, and POWER.
It’s available in three grades – T3, T4 and T Spirit with prices for the TS and T Spirit remaining unchanged.
Head-up display, Touch Tracer switches, seven airbags, automatic air conditioning, front fog lamps and Smart Entry & Start are standard on all models.
T Spirit owners also get HDD navigation and music storage, improved Intelligent Park Assist, rain-sensing wipers and 17-inch alloys.
Toyota said it hopes to achieve a high proportion of conquest sales, “thanks to a combination of three key areas of customer benefit: total economy, space and style and effortless drive”.
The carmaker added the “significant advances Toyota has achieved in the new car's powertrain, technology and packaging will also strengthen its market position”.
In 2010, it expects to sell 7,200 units, taking a 5.9% share of the D-segment market.
Dealers can upsell extras, including a protection pack (£350) and leather (£1,395).
T Spirit buyers can purchase a solar pack at £1,450 which has a sunroof with integrated solar panels, allowing automatic cooling of the interior while the car is parked.
The consumer view
The new Prius is the most accomplished hybrid yet. Spacious inside, decent build quality and low benefit-in-kind tax bills will see it prove a popular fleet choice.
However, for higher mileage drivers the traditional upper-medium diesel in ‘eco’ tune is still the better bet.