As the fallout from Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” affair continues and concerns grow about what’s really coming out of the exhaust pipes of diesel-powered models, the latest incarnation of the car that single-handedly propelled the petrol-electric hybrid into the spotlight has gone on sale and will soon be driving out of showrooms in silence like a stealthy assassin.
Will even more drivers consider switching from their diesel-powered family car into a petrol-electric hybrid model that costs from £23,295? Toyota must be hoping so. More than 3.5m Priuses have been sold since the car’s introduction in Japan in 1997.
The Japanese car maker says improvements to the hybrid powertrain will make fuel economy and CO2 emissions better than ever — although it has still to issue the final figures.
The company has, though, stated that they are 18% better than in the outgoing model. If that is the case, the new car’s fuel economy should jump to about 85mpg (from just over 72mpg) and its CO2 emissions should fall to roughly 73g/km (from 89g/km)
The Prius continues to have a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but a new feature is occasional four-wheel drive — or e-4WD. This is the first Prius to have a second electric motor that can drive the back wheels.
The car’s styling may be an acquired taste, but in the eyes of the engineers it’s there to be functional rather than beautiful. It’s said to generate less drag and it gets a new chassis with a lower centre of gravity, improving the driving experience.
There will be four trim levels — Active, Business Edition, Business Edition Plus and Excel — with the top-spec version priced at £27,450. The entry-level model will come with alloy wheels, dual-zone air-conditioning, LED headlights, an electrically operated driver’s seat, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure alert.
2016 Toyota Prius Active
- PRICE: £23,295
- ENGINE: 1789cc, 4 cylinders, petrol engine with electric motors
- FUEL: 85mpg (estimated)
- CO2: 73g/km
- ROAD TAX BAND: G (£180 a year)
- RELEASE DATE: Order now, deliveries in March