Herald Sun - Motoring - - Special Report -

and the steer­ing is never much bet­ter than wooden.

But it is re­ward­ing to sit at the lights with a zero en­ergy drain, and move away un­der elec­tric power, just like the ear­lier Priuses.

The dif­fer­ence with this Prius is the way the en­gi­neer­ing team has turned it from a real-world lab­o­ra­tory ex­per­i­ment into a worth­while com­pact fam­ily car. It’s not as sharp as a Mazda3 or Ford Fo­cus, but feels as good to drive as a Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra.

That could be faint praise, but it is praise for a car that is still fo­cused on ev­ery­thing from low-drag tyres to a slip­pery body and a pow­er­train that even uses elec­tric air­con­di­tion­ing to cut any par­a­sitic drag on the en­gine.

The first-gen­er­a­tion Prius was an odd­ity, the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Prius was ef­fec­tive but un­re­ward­ing.

There is a lot to like about Prius III and very lit­tle to com­plain about. Some think the car looks too much like the pre­vi­ous model, the steer­ing col­umn does not have enough ad­just­ment, the press preview cars in Syd­ney this week had mis­matched plas­tic in the cabin, and the vacuum flu­o­res­cent dig­i­tal gauges look cheap with pix­e­lated graph­ics, which are sub-stan­dard for the car and class.

But those are only lit­tle things in a Prius that is now one to rec­om­mend as a car, and not just a green state­ment ma­chine.

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