The fourth-generation Toyota Prius marks a significant step forward for the world's best-selling hybrid car. It's even more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, equipment levels are impressive, and the cabin is both more spacious and better finished than before. Perhaps more surprisingly, it's better to drive as well, allowing it to compete more closely with conventional rivals such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
Its petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain still allows near-silent, electric-only travel in town – which is the car's natural habitat – but even when the engine kicks in, the peace isn't ruined entirely. The Prius handles well enough on the open road and is perfectly tolerable on longer motorway journeys.
While front cabin space is good and leg room is impressive in the back seats, head room in the rear is a little tight for taller passengers. The boot is generously proportioned, however.
There are four trim levels available, but all models get items such as dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, DAB radio, adaptive cruise control and some useful driver aids, and sat-nav is included on the top two specifications.
Abundant technology means the Prius's list price is on the high side, but good discounts are available if you negotiate, and residuals are strong, while company car drivers will love the low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates on the models that wear the smaller 15in wheels.