Harrison Ford, Jennifer Aniston, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Hanks.
At one time the Toyota Prius was the environmentally conscious car every celebrity had to have.
That was back in the late 90s and early noughties however. With time, the fuss began to fade as electric cars spearheaded by Tesla have replaced the Prius as movie stars’ favourite way to show they can for the planet.
That doesn’t mean the Prius is no longer popular, however. On the contrary, it remains the world’s best selling hybrid.
The fourth generation Prius went on sale in the UK in March. It certainly stands out from the crowd – as you can see from these pictures, Toyota hasn’t asked its designers to be conservative.
While bold styling is to be applauded the new car’s looks won’t be to everyone’s tastes and I for one suspect they may not age gracefully.
Prices start at £23,295 and stretch to £27,450 for my Excel model.
As in the old version, the Prius’s hybrid system features a 97bhp 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine. However, the unit has been re-engineered to deliver significantly better fuel economy – the Prius will return an incredible 94.1mpg on the combined cycle in certain versions.
Of course, we’ve all just had to sigh and get used to the disappointment when cars don’t match up to their billed economy. A report just last week showed that only two cars managed to deliver their official mpg when driven in the real world.
So it won’t surprise you to learn I didn’t manage to get the official 85.6mpg my Prius was supposed to give. On a return trip from Dundee to Aberfeldy I did manage to keep the onboard readout above 70mpg, however. That was without paying much care to driving economically – going at the speed limit where safe and overtaking a few tractors.
If you played to the car’s strengths and learned the most economical way to drive it then better than 80mpg should be achievable. The otherwise quiet engine doesn’t sound good when it’s revved hard anyway.
Emissions are a very low 76g/km: good news for people who like to pay nothing in VED and company car owners. While I’m not personally wild about the exterior of the new Prius, the interior is a different matter. The cabin is a unique and special piece of design.
Where normal cars have huge swathes of dark grey plastics, Toyota has thrown lovely off-white sections of metal trim in there.
The drive selector is a stubby lever protruding from the centre console that’s very easy to operate once you’re used to it.
The unconventionally designed dashboard layout has no instruments that you view directly through the steering wheel – these are replaced by a pair of 4.2in colour screens that sit atop the dash, slightly to the left of the driver’s sight line.
The right-hand screen covers basics such as speed and fuel level, while the left shows secondary data to include highly detailed economy analysis. All but the entry level Active trim have a head-up display that projects information onto the windscreen directly ahead of the driver.
There’s a decent amount of room in the back and the boot is quite spacious.
I’ve never been terribly convinced by hybrids but the new Prius is one of the best I’ve driven. Cruising around town silently in full electric mode is where it’s best, but it’s also a comfortable cruiser.