Toyota has made an enviable reputation for itself with its class leading hybrid Prius, so what better way to boost sales than create a larger verson for customers who need that little extra space.
The Prius+ is a sleek, sporty MPV that boasts two more seats than its smaller five-seater sibling, and because they fold neatly into the floor it also comes with more luggage space when they are not in use.
The larger car is 135mm longer than the standard Prius, 30mm wider and 85mm higher ensuring all travellers get extra shoulder and headroom in addition to the extra seats.
And as the three seats in the second (or middle) row can each be moved backwards or forwards there is plenty of flexibility, allowing for the creation of more leg room or more luggage space depending upon the situation.
The plus has CO2 levels of just 101g/km, so not only can you drive knowing you are doing your bit to keep the air we breath cleaner you have the bonus of only paying the first tier of road tax.
The car is driven by a combination of a 1.8-litre petrol engine and a 60 kW electric motor which is powered by lithium-ion batteries cleverly concealed in the centre console.
The result is a car which will easily average over 50 miles per gallon. Toyota claims an average of almost 69 miles per gallon which is optimistic, although during a week’s motoring I averaged over 52mpg.
On start up and under light acceleration the car uses just the electric motor to help keep fuel costs down, but as soon as you need more power the petrol engine comes seamlessly into action so they work in tandem.
With full leather seats and plenty of space this stylish people mover offers a generous amount of luxurious comfort and a good ride with impressive grip on bends.
Under electric power only the ride is silent but even with the petrol engine in use it’s a quiet car.
Only when you have to put your foot down really hard for maximum acceleration does the engine grumble audibly. Under such circumstances there is a definite lack of urgency about the Prius+, although to be fair it was built with economy not speed in mind.
The electric motor/engine works in conjunction with a seamless CVT gearbox operated by a dashboard-mounted gearshift not much larger than a control knob on a games console.
As well as drive and reverse you can also slip it in to B mode which simulates engine braking and is a useful facility on long declines to save constant dabbing of the brakes.
This car comes very well equipped, with everything from a head-up display projecting the car’s speed into the windscreen to a very useful colour reversing camera to make parking easier. Not to mention heated front seats and one-touch windows for everyone.
Last year this model had a mini makeover, with the latest models getting a revised front with a new upper grille and a more prominent Toyota badge that extends the forward line of the bonnet.
New LED headlights which use a cylindrical projector for both high and low beam make nighttime driving more relaxing, and their slim profile gives the car a distinctive appearance.
At the back a stylish new rear light design flags up that this is the latest model – and set to be another success for Toyota.
Model: Toyota Prius+ Excel
Mechanical: 1,798cc petrol engine and 60kW electric motor giving combined 134bhp, driving front wheels via CVT automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 103 mph
0-62mph: 11.3 secs
Combined mpg: 64.2
CO2 emissions: 101 g/km
Warranty: Five years/100,000 miles