The pragmatic reason to buy a Toyota Prius is to save money, through free road tax and a lack of London congestion charge, as well as its fuel economy potential. It makes good sense as a company car, too, with low benefit-in-kind tax and a 100 percent capital allowance write-down in the first year.
Running costs are a mixed bag, though. Yes, you’ll make substantial tax savings each year and strong demand for used cars means impressive resale values.
But although real-world economy is impressive in its own right, with 56.4mpg over our touring route and 47.5mpg overall, you’ll do well to match the ‘official’ average – forums are rife with tales of owners unable to get anywhere near those figures.
The Prius Plug-In should address these concerns to some extent. With an EV range of 15.5 miles, it is entirely possible a low-mileage user could go days without using any petrol, recharging the batteries only. With no electric range remaining, Toyota claims 78.5mpg and 84g/km as the petrol engine is used. Our experience suggests more than 60mpg should be achievable on long runs.
However, the Plug-In is also the most expensive Prius to buy outright, and it's hardly an affordable car to begin with. It carries a near £8000 premium over the T-Spirit at £32,895. Regardless of its improved range and efficiency, that makes the Plug-In an expensive car.
With the 17in wheels comes a marginally higher CO2 score, but that currently has no bearing on the tax or congestion charge issue and a microscopic effect to fuel economy.