IT is no secret that Toyota aims to make 50 per cent of its sales hybrids by 2020.
Hardly surprising because this enterprising manufacturer saw the advantages of this more planet-friendly power solution years ago and therefore has had a head start on many competitors in this field.
And leading the Toyota charge is the latest version of that hybrid pioneer, the Prius which is now in its fourth generation.
Out to set new benchmarks in fuel economy, emissions and efficiency, the Prius of today also boasts improved dynamic capabilities thanks to the use of the first Toyota New Generation Architecture Platform.
This has solved what I felt was one of the biggest drawbacks of the former Prius models which never felt as poised and balanced as some conventionally powered cars. The problem was solved by giving the car a 25mm lower centre of gravity to improve body control.
The latest version feels as good on the road as some sports saloons and puts a whole new focus on its appeal.
But the star attraction of the Prius is fuel consumption because it is not far below the 100mpg mark at 94.1mpg on the combined cycle.
This is all down to the combination of a 1,798cc four-cylinder VVT-I petrol engine linked to a 650-volt electric motor on the Toyota Hybrid Synergy drive system bringing a total output of 121bhp.
The high-voltage battery which is at the heart of the drive system is now much more compact with better durability and charging performance.
And this impressive all-rounder can achieve 112mph with a 0-62mph sprint factor of 10.4 seconds andqualifies forexemption from the London congestion charge without the use of plug-in technology.
This particular car, a Business Edition Plus costs Â£26,490. It can in no way be imagined as a cheap car - the Prius never was - but it does offer a lot for the money, possessing all the goodies of the Business Edition, with the inclusion of larger 17-inch alloy wheels, sat nav, front and rear parking sensors and a park-assist function.
Full marks go to the amazing marriage of the synergy drive system and electric CVT transmission - a seamless flow of power which has got to be one of the best in the business.
With an exterior that is more striking than beautiful, the Prius wins over drivers with a lower seating position, a high-quality interior and unconventional instrumentation.
There is nothing directly ahead but a small head-up display, with a digital speedo and a much-improved multi-function trip computer housed in a binnacle spanning the centre of the dashboard.