Virtuous motoring

without sackcloth

Toyota Prius, front action
Toyota Prius, side action
Toyota Prius, rear action
Toyota Prius, dashboard
Toyota Prius, boot
Toyota Prius, 2016, engine

THERE are several good reasons why we do not make our clothing out of twigs or weave garments from hay.

Nobody wants the embarrassment of squirrels building homes in a jacket during a casual visit to the shops or small furry animals nesting in underwear. There is nothing to be gained form a corn bunting hopping about up your trouser leg.

In Britain weather is also a factor. Grass skirts are all very well on Christmas Island but during our winter there is a real likelihood of frostbitten chipolatas.

Chiefly what has driven us towards a serviceable wool and worsted blend or easy iron man-made fibres is comfort.

No doubt there are people out there who live in organic yurts and drink nothing but fermented cuckoo spit who would welcome such ‘sustainable' fashions but in reality there is nothing to recommend a return to the monastic virtues of 10 century self-denial or, indeed, Dutch elm disease in your overcoat.

And so it is with hybrid cars.

In the beginning they were a popular indulgence of the image-conscious glitterati. Yes sir, I may have three Ferraris and a medium-sized private jet at home but look, this is the planet being saved right here, at the very edge of the red carpet.

Obviously this sort of right-on self-sacrifice cannot be sugar-coated with luxury fixtures and fittings. You may have been greening your image driving a car with the acceleration of tar but it was also important that it had a totally vegan interior and be a visually striking as gas.

All of which helped put off the general public which neither really understood hybrids or wanted to pay a lot of money to drive very slowly.

However hybrids have changed. The five-doorToyota Prius is still not cheap to buy but it is economical to run and in £27,500 Excel form very well equipped and luxuriously finished. It certainly has a visual presence even if the rear elevation is a collection of angles and glass.

The 1,800cc petrol engine and its electric motor push the car along at an acceptable rate, 10.4 seconds will being up 62mph via the electric CVT gearbox.

Eventhe most hybrid ignorant driver knows this is road tax free motoring. What is more official figures claim 85.6 miles to the gallon although to achieve this you will be as popular with other commuters as a ton of chip fat on a blind bend. I got 57mpg which counts as exceptional in my world.

As is expected in a hybrid this is all monitored by an elaborate display which updates your consumption, keeps you in the green and even awards a score out of 100.

Tribute is paid extensively to the miracle of electricity, from a touch screen navigator and infotainment centre with voice activation to the wireless phone charger between the seats.

There are a huge amount of safety and convenience features fitted. A pre collision system with pedestrian sensors is supported by adaptive cruise control and lane departure steering control. There is also road sign recognition and auto high beam.

Inside there is a head up display but comfort is the key; electric leather seats park assist and automated just about everything.

All of which adds to the car's overall refinement. This is a lovely, smooth drive and a rewarding car over long distances.

It sits on the new TGNA platform which will underpin many new Toyota models. Very promising. The Prius feels more connected to the road but you are hardly going to be looking for hot hatch handling.

The new Prius goes a bit further in silent battery mode that it used to but you will probably be taking too much notice of the exceptional quality of the interior to take an interest.

As hybrids go if this one isn't the best on the market at the money I'll eat my straw hat.

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