Toyota has made the Prius greener, better looking

For all its hybrid serenity and Uber fare-friendliness, the latest Toyota Prius is, well, not particularly nice to look at.

Toyota appears to have fixed that, though, with this new version. It’s made its debut appearance at the New York motor show, and not only is it less offensive on the eye, it’s also nicer to your wallet.

That’s because this version’s a plug-in hybrid. So unlike the standard Prius, you can pop it in to charge when you get home, dramatically increasing its electric range and so decreasing running costs. It can top 80mph in electric-only mode, while its zero-emissions range is up to 31 miles. Those stats, we imagine, are mutually exclusive.

Run it as a hybrid, though, with the petrol engine taking some of the slack, and Toyota claims 202mpg and 32g/km of CO2 emissions. Both figures are massaged heavily by the current official testing procedure, but they’re a good indication that this Prius will prove a lot more efficient than standard, the regular car offering up 94mpg and 70g/km.

A full charge takes just over two hours, too, and the battery can be topped up during driving via regenerative brakes and solar panels in the roof. And there are some clever materials aboard to help shave off a few kilos, including an aluminium bonnet and a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic for the boot lid.

Toyota speaks of “fun-to-drive quality” and “precise and responsive” handling, but most buyers won’t give two hoots. This plug-in version does have a lower centre of gravity, though, and it’s longer, wider and sits lower to the ground, attributes which all help it look far more appealing than standard.

The aim has been to give it a distinctive look to set it apart from the standard Prius, and that includes quad-bulb headlights a little like the new Bugatti Chiron’s. (It may help if you squint.)

It goes on sale before the end of the year, but with far greater flexibility more conventional styling, we already suspect it will become the pick of its range. But why didn’t Toyota just make the Prius look like this in the first place?

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