MO­TORS Elec­tric dream

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH -

THINK of a hy­brid­pow­ered fam­ily car and you’re prob­a­bly pic­tur­ing this one, Toy­ota’s Prius.

Launched in 2000, with New Mil­len­nium thoughts turn­ing to in­creased au­to­mo­tive ef­fi­ciency, this was the world’s largest car maker show­ing us ex­actly what was pos­si­ble. The orig­i­nal ver­sion was im­me­di­ately em­braced by ecow­ar­riors the world over, who quickly also in­cluded Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties and as­sorted green­friendly politi­cians when the se­cond gen­er­a­tion 2003 ver­sion of­fered us the con­cept in smarter, more user-friendly five­door form.

But it was hardly per­fect. The cabin felt smaller than the con­ven­tional Mon­deo­sized mod­els it was priced against and away from ur­ban use, the fee­ble 1.5-litre petrol en­gine strug­gled, its fuel and CO2 fig­ures fall­ing be­hind those of a con­ven­tional diesel.

So in cre­at­ing this third gen­er­a­tion de­sign, launched in 2009, Toy­ota had a re-think.

The re­sult was a MK3 model with a pok­ier 1.8-litre hy­brid en­gine, a car that Toy­ota hoped could fi­nally of­fer vi­able ev­ery­day fam­ily al­ter­na­tive to or­di­nary medium range-sized mod­els. A car folk might con­sider buy­ing even if they didn’t have a Green­peace mem­ber­ship card in their pocket. You’d be for­given for mis­tak­ing this third gen­er­a­tion Prius for its pre­de­ces­sor, with its trade­mark arch­ing roofline, slab sides and dou­ble rear screen.

Look a lit­tle closer though and the dif­fer­ences be­come more pro­nounced, though this still re­mains one of the slip­peri­est cars in mod­ern pro­duc­tion.

Most im­por­tantly, it’s big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor - some­thing which made orig­i­nal buy­ers feel a lot bet­ter about the prospect of spend­ing around £20,000 on one.

You ap­pre­ci­ate this most at the back where legroom re­ally is ex­cel­lent, even if you’re sit­ting in the middle. Thanks to the high­point in the rear roofline hav­ing been moved back by 10cm, head­room is pretty good too. High tech mod­els of­ten have a ten­dency to pro­duce a few glitches, but the MK3 model Prius has been re­mark­ably trou­ble free, Toy­ota iron­ing out some of the quirks that af­flicted ear­lier mod­els.

There were a num­ber of re­ports of 2010-era mod­els us­ing an ex­ces­sive amount of en­gine oil, but this is­sue ap­pears to have been sorted with later cars. In third gen­er­a­tion guise, Toy­ota’s Prius fi­nally made real world sense.

As a used propo­si­tion, it’s a car you can jus­tify buy­ing, even if you’re not try­ing to make some kind of en­vi­ron­men­tal state­ment. True, it isn’t cheap but it’s de­cent value for what you get, es­pe­cially if you com­pare prices to high­ef­fi­ciency diesel ri­vals with tech­nol­ogy that by com­par­i­son, dates back to the Ark.

With rea­son­able driv­ing dy­nam­ics, a roomy cabin and user-friendly de­sign, this third gen­er­a­tion model deals with all the draw­backs which used to be part and par­cel of Prius own­er­ship, cre­at­ing a car that’s in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to ig­nore in the gloomy times we live in. Toy­ota’s hy­brid rev­o­lu­tion con­tin­ues to gather pace.

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