From £21,2148

Steering, suspension and ride comfort

Toyota's top-spec Prius T Spirit has 17in wheels as standard instead of the 15in ones fitted to base models. These are heavier, and were they to be combined with 28kg of solar roof, the Prius would be tipped into a higher weight category and thus need expensive rehomologation. That’s why you can have a solar roof only on the base T3.

So, fat wheels and a lower centre of gravity help the T4 and T Spirit, as does a much quicker steering rack, with 2.8 turns lock to lock instead of 3.7. The result is cars with very different dynamic characters, but the Prius has a remarkably quiet, controlled and supple ride even on 17in wheels.

At first it’s not obvious where to insert a CD, such is the close fit of the central display screen. (It powers open to reveal the CD slot.)

It also has plenty of grip and the steering has a precision and proportionality of effort not always found in an electric system. There’s not a whole load of dynamic feedback through the wheel, but that’s not what this car is about.

However, we were surprised at the tidy, well balanced handling, but don’t expect more than the merest hint of throttle adjustability in a bend. It’s not in this car’s nature.

The bigger wheels of the T Spirit also makes the ride a little more fidgety, especially at slower speeds. Even on 15in wheels, this isn’t a soft-riding car – there’s plenty of movement to the secondary ride, while larger bumps will make you glad the car is screwed together so well.

A vertical glass panel below the main tailgate window makes manoeuvring easier, and the T Spirit has a camera to aid reversing (accompanied by an incessant beep).

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