Stole a quick chat with Shunsaku Kodama, chief designer of the fourth-generation Toyota Prius, at the Japanese company’s preview event ahead of the Tokyo motor show.

The Prius has always been a divisive car, but there can be little doubt that it is a significant one that keeps pushing the boundaries when it comes to fuel economy and emissions.

This new version, due on the forecourts next year, is vitally important as Toyota faces a growing threat from a host of hybrid and electric vehicles. The Prius, too, is part of an ever-expanding line-up of alternatively fuelled Toyotas that includes the new Mirai fuel cell vehicle.

Kodama-san explains that the Prius and Mirai were not cut from the same cloth, even if their final designs look similar: “When we were developing the cars it wasn’t intended that we would make a common design.