Eighteen years ago when the original model was launched, a four door saloon, CO2 emissions were not on the agenda, a very different story today and the latest Prius can achieve a figure of just 70g/km.
Since it was first launched 3.6 million has taken to the road and the U.K. is the most important market in Europe. Of course the Prius is not just the only hybrid model in the Toyota line up and by the year 2020 the forecast is that 50% of Toyotas sold in the UK will rely on hybrid power.
The Prius has become a key model and in its latest guise it has much more on road presence, sharp angular lines which makes it stand out as I discovered as I drove through the streets of Valencia.
Built on a new GA-C platform which will be used for future Toyota models, this adoption results in savings in manufacture.
With the new model comes a sizeable leap forward, the body is 60% more rigid, and a lower centre of gravity and new suspension delivers high levels of comfort for driver and passengers.
Behind the wheel what impressed, the excellent forward vision and a cabin which is roomy and seating that has been enhanced over the previous model. In fact the cabin is free of clutter and wide use of quality materials gives a premium feel to this car, I particularly approve of the wide use of soft touch materials.
The soul of this new Toyota is the driving systems, a 1.8 litre petrol engine and the next generation signature hybrid drivetrain. This system has been set up to provide a natural, immediate response to any accelerator pedal input, with the right level of performance.
Economy has been improved, and can be as low as 94.1mpg, this figure provided by the manufacturer.
The size of the battery has been reduced by 10% and can absorb 28% more energy in the same amount of time, therefore faster charging.
The really good news is that fuel economy over the previous model can be as much as 21% better. Now that is the sort of news that most want to hear. Behind the wheel I was taken right away by the overall smoothness of the new model and performance was more than adequate, worth noting that in EV mode you can drive at 60mph plus. I am not for one minute suggesting that this Toyota delivers sports car performance, best described as lively.
Earlier I did refer to the low emission figure that relates to a car on 15 inch wheels, 17 inch wheels are also offered as standard, fitting the smaller wheel delivers a price reduction of £400.
The new Prius is the total technology package with an abundance of features re safety and no fewer than 22 sensors to aid parking and other safety items.
In relation to safety in bringing this new hybrid model to the market, 400 cars were crash tested.
One feature which I spotted, a phone charger, cordless, you simply rest it on a cradle, of course it all depend on the phone you own.
Four grades are offered, two business and a top of the range Excel which is targeted to the private buyer. The top two have a sat nav system as standard.
A number of attractive finance options both for the business and private customer and there is the added bonus of lower service costs.
Prices start at £23,295 and rise to £27,450 and peace of mind is provided by a five year/100,000 mile warranty for this five door hatchback.
The new Prius continues to be the flagship of the Toyota hybrid family.
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