Toyota has performed a U-turn and confirmed that the fifth-generation Prius will be coming to the UK after all.
Revealed late in 2022 and launched in other global markets in spring of this year, the Prius Mk5 was originally — and surprisingly — not intended for sale on British soil, but now Toyota has had a change of heart.
Prices and specifications for the hybrid haven’t been confirmed as yet but going by its positioning in other markets, it’s likely to cost more than the Corolla hatchback, which currently starts from £30,225 in the UK.
Sales cannibalised by other Toyota hybrids
It was a bold decision not to bring the car here in the first place, but the Prius’ success as one of the first available hybrids in the world came under threat from newer, more varied models from within Toyota’s own stable.
In terms of retail customers, both the C-HR crossover and the Corolla — itself revived in 2019, after two generations and 13 years’ worth of Toyota’s C-segment sales were conducted under the Auris nameplate — have encroached on the Prius, as both heavily use the hybrid technology that was once the Prius’ USP.
And while many private hire companies used to favour the Prius for its particular blend of low running costs, efficiency and useful cabin space, in recent years it’s the Corolla which has taken over the fleet mantle.
However, Toyota UK clearly thinks there is enough demand for the Prius for it to return to showrooms across the country.
And its strength will be its looks — previous generations have been visually uninspiring but the new car is undoubtedly pretty.
Striking looks and two hybrid power options
The Prius has a swoopy, almost coupé-like shape, complete with smooth front-end detailing and a dramatic Kamm tail — an upright back.
Inside, there’s also a bold dashboard design, with a central touchscreen accompanied by a high-set 7in digital instrument cluster that sits almost in the driver’s eyeline, just above the steering wheel. As with some of the exterior styling, this takes some inspiration from the awkwardly-named Toyota bZ4X.
In other markets, Toyota offers the Prius with 1.8- and 2-litre series hybrid engines, delivering either 138- or 196bhp.
There’s also a plug-in hybrid model with a 2-litre, four-cylinder engine and greater electric driving range, as well as a combined powertrain output of 220bhp, although it is not clear as yet which of these Prius models will make it to the UK.
The question is whether a dedicated hybrid model, such as the Prius, is going to be relevant in an age in which more car buyers are going fully electric.
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