It would have been a mistake for Toyota to depart too far from the gentle-if-slightly-clunky-riding, soft-handling dynamic template loved by airport taxi drivers, Nobel laureate physicists, religious leaders and Hollywood film stars everywhere; likewise, stiffening the chassis too much.
And so, doubtless not by chance, refinement of the Prius’s established handling character, rather than a total reinvention, is what Toyota has landed on.
Despite the fundamental redesign that has gone on under the skin, the car feels familiar on the road: better-handling, and a lot more wieldy and easy to drive than it used to be.
It’s firmer-riding over bad surfaces, too, but still ultimately laid-back and unimposing. The car’s driving experience, while much more precise and responsive than its old standard, remains significantly more isolating and detached than the European hatchback norm.
And although that means it’s never likely to appeal much to keener drivers, it should allow Toyota to claim some success in moving the car’s motive character out of left field without greatly changing it.