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Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
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Better to drive, with increased comfort and efficiency.

PROS

  • Class-leading efficiency
  • Distinctive design
  • Generously equipped
  • Comfortable cabin and ride

CONS

  • Won’t sate keener drivers
  • Pale interior colours may age quickly
  • Becoming expensive

Verdict

There’s no escaping the striking, low-slung appearance of the fourth-generation Toyota Prius.

There remain few players in the hybrid-specific segments of the market with the forthcoming Hyundai Ioniq and its premium in-house rival, the Lexus CT, the new Prius’s most obvious competition.

Hybrid versions of otherwise conventional cars are beginning to proliferate, offering further challenges to the Prius: petrol-electric derivatives of the BMW 3 Series, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat pose a threat to the Toyota, as does the lesser-spotted diesel-electric DS 5 hybrid.

Plus there’s the inescapable truth that since its introduction the Toyota Auris hybrid has eaten away at the Prius’s popularity.

Dramatically styled hybrid

Gone are the MPV-esque looks of the previous two models, replaced by something altogether slinkier and, if we’re honest, busier in terms of styling details.

Not only is the car 20mm lower than before, it’s 60mm longer lending it a sleeker form, cleaving the air with an impressively low drag coefficient of 0.24.

The bonnet line is much lower – Toyota’s at pains to point out the nose badge sits at the same height as the GT86 coupe’s – improving forward visibility in the process. More of a talking point are the unusually shaped, oversized lights at either end, illuminated in part with LED technology.

Introduced on the 2004-09 Prius, the split rear window arrangement continues, with a more dramatic spoiler sitting atop a convex lower screen. Despite the horizontal plane in your rear-view mirror it doesn’t hamper visibility significantly.

Single hybrid powertrain choice

Whichever Toyota Prius derivative you opt for, all are powered by a 1.8-litre petrol engine working in conjunction with an electric motor. Together they produce 121bhp, with up to 163Nm of torque instantly available.

Stick to 15-inch wheels – standard on lower trims and a reduced-cost option on higher ones – for the greatest efficiency. Toyota claims an impressive 94.1mpg average, emitting just 70g/km of CO2. Keep the higher-specs’ 17-inchers on and those numbers change to 85.6mpg and 76g/km. That’s still VED car tax-free at 2016/17 rates.

Toyota’s worked to improve the hybrid system’s effectiveness, notably with the battery pack, located under the rear seat to liberate more boot space, recharging 28 percent more quickly.

More electric power’s used to propel the Prius too, allowing it to get up to urban speeds quicker; accelerate hard when joining motorway traffic and that familiar high engine speed sound remains, although admittedly it’s less intrusive than before.

Underneath the eye-catching body, the Prius sits on a new platform, which will also underpin the replacements for the Toyota Prius+ and the Lexus CT.

Generously equipped quartet of trim levels

From launch, the latest Toyota Prius is available in four specification grades, with even the entry-level Active featuring dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, DAB radio and adaptive cruise control.

Additionally there’s a raft of active safety technology to help minimise the risk of an accident occurring as well as useful features such as self-parking and a clear head-up display system projecting onto the windscreen. 

Read the Parkers full new Toyota Prius review to find out how we rate this rakish hybrid.

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