We have the best selling hybrid car in the world – the Toyota Prius (Toyota Prius T Spirit) – in for review and road test this week. Hype, fiction or fact? We’ll find out.
There are many – us included – who thought it extremely unlikely that Toyota would ever want to send us any of their hybrid cars for review. Much less – in light of our oft stated dislike of the Prius and all the motoring piousness it represents – let us review the latest Toyota Prius
But it turns out that Toyota are a decent bunch of chaps who believe that their cars – even their hybrid cars – are capable of standing up to scrutiny, even with our well known antipathy to the whole hybrid direction. And let’s face it, so entrenched is the Prius as a ‘Planet Saver’ in the minds of many that even if we simply confirm our opinion after a week of playing it’s not really going to make much difference to Toyota. Still, good on ’em for playing ball.
So we find ourselves in the interesting position of having a nice, shiny Toyota Prius T Spirit landing at Cars UK Towers for a week for a bit of fun and frolics and some serious driving. And so interested were we to have a Prius to review and road test we managed to stick 150 miles on it on the day it arrived.
Which was just as well, as the day following the arrival of our Prius the Snow Gods came out to play and dumped a cumulative fifteen inches of snow on our little corner of rural Essex. But more of that later.
It’s not the smallest car on the planet, the Toyota Prius. In fact it could almost be considered a proper-sized family car, with decent leg room in the back even when you’re over 6′. And in some ways the cabin is a half-decent place to be.
There’s some nice tecchy bits, what with the gear lever with its unfamiliar markings jutting out of the centre console and a veritable cornucopia of little widgets telling you how you’re driving through the panel atop the dash. Mind you, there’s also some nasty, scratchy plastics floating around and the seats look a bit like they’re upholstered in velvet curtains from Romford Market. So, a curate’s egg interior.
As for the exterior, it has grown on us. A bit. It’s no oil painting, that’s true, but we don’t find it quite as unappealing close-up as we perhaps thought we did. Or maybe it’s that Toyota has bowed a little to convention and dialled in some slightly better lines in this third generation Prius. That said, we’re damn sure Toyota and its designers are capable of putting together a hybrid car that doesn’t look so unappealing.
We have to conclude the slab-sided, upright, un-dynamic look is intentional; a visual statement to say the Prius is different; it’s modern transport and doesn’t need to try and appeal to those looking for an attractive car. It’s about function rather than form.
Surprisingly, we understand that. We understand that a new direction needs a USP. Yes, the hybrid function was its USP, but the Marmite looks are a visual indicator of that USP. From a marketing perspective it makes perfect sense, but from a car-lovers perspective it’s all wrong.
Still, looks that don’t particularly appeal don’t mean the Prius isn’t a good car. Perhaps the Prius will surprise us with what it has to offer.
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