The Toyota Prius is aimed not just at eco-literate pioneers or even early adopters of new technology, but also at mainstream buyers with open minds. So says Toyota, which is why the Prius mixes conventional and radical styling. Its case is helped by the way many recent hatchbacks have adopted a more Prius-like shape, partly to look modern and partly to meet crash test legislation. Honda’s Insight has more than a hint of Prius to its lines, while even Nissan’s Leaf has adopted the tearshape profile that’s become synonymous with these eco-friendly cars.
Visually, the Prius is not quite the pioneer it used to be, although the optional photo-voltaic glass roof adds some sci-fi. It helps power the air-con but was absent from the test car on account of the 17in wheels we used for our review.
Even so, the Prius is still a roomy five-door hatchback with a very streamlined shape and it occupies a size of class one notch above that of the cheaper Honda Insight, its closest conceptual rival.
At the back, tail-lights are vast, vertical, clear-lensed edifices with fashionable chrome fins and detailing inside. A separate, slender rear window sits under the rear spoiler, just like it did in Honda’s original CRX, and a spoiler helps towards a remarkable 0.25 Cd.
Seventeen-inch alloys are standard on top-spec T Spirit, wearing 215/45 R17 tyres. The base car has 15in wheels with ugly five-spoke plastic covers — strange, as the magnesium wheel beneath is handsome.