The new Prius handles and performs as well as a great many European hatchbacks generally considered to be more mainstream, and that’s a major achievement for Toyota.
For as well as returning a real 62mpg so matter of factly, this car now does an uncanny impression of ‘normal’. To drive, it’s complete and competitive; to own, it’s little short of exceptional.
It’s still a very singular car, though: something of an anti-hero for interested drivers, for its total disdain for our engagement.
Entering its third decade, the Prius still refuses to acknowledge our childish daydreams of idyllic roads and perfect cars in which to tackle them, addressing instead jammed, pollution-choked reality – and doing so very effectively.
However rounded, refined and clever it has become, the Prius still makes you feel unworthy of it for wanting a car that appeals to heart as well as mind – and we regret that. Although compelling, it still could never be for us.
As a result, the Prius creeps into our top five ahead of the Nissan Leaf, but trailing its German competition in the shape of the Audi A3 e-tron, the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion TDI and our favourite and class leader the range extended BMW i3.