With the exception of the first generation Prius, the other two iterations after it were pretty in-offensive, styled like a shortened version of the Toyota Wish, I did not particularly have any objections to driving one on several occasions both in Singapore and overseas. But the new one…the fourth generation Prius, eschewed almost everything of its predecessors and went ahead with something I cannot even begin to describe with mere words. The new facade could be best notioned to ‘Finding Nemo’ meets that ‘emo-punk-rock’ band, Tokio Hotel.
A curious blend of cuteness with edgy accents. Its sharp snout is flanked rather closely by two sharp-looking headlamps that seem to be shedding tears as the outer-most ends drip down the sides to form signal indicators. Thankfully the side profile still retains a fair bit of the previous car though the new raising belt line literally obscures the rear bench passengers from seeing anything out of the sides unless they lean forward and crane their heads up.
Things go awry once again at the rear as the split-deck tail-gate receives vertical tower-like tail lights that are about the height of a five-year old, encased in them are LED beams that when lit look like a red question mark. If I did not know better I would have swore someone at Toyota really loved the Mitsuoka Galue’s rump. You would think that eco-drivers would not really care exactly how their tree-hugging cars look - true to a certain extent, during the test-drive, the Prius drew a tonne of stares, many of which had their lower jaws ajar.
Perhaps that’s the reason why at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon there were so many tuning packages for the Prius that tried really hard to give the Toyota any hint of aggressiveness, most of which failed miserably - in my opinion. Anyway, enough of my rambling about the car’s looks, I could go on and on scrutinising every single detail on the exterior, but looks aside, the new Prius outperforms the third generation in almost every single way.
Featuring a refined version of Toyota’s patented petrol-electric hybrid technology while being built atop an all-new platform, the Prius promises even lower running costs and emissions without any of that lung-killing NOx that you would get from diesel vehicles. To top it off, the Prius is even more practical than ever, packing a roomier cabin and a larger trunk. Seating four adults easily plus a fifth person could still get pretty comfy, the only drawback is that the Prius’ sloping roofline makes ingress and egress to the rear bench a little awkward.
Shoulder and leg room though are on the generous side, a flat floor across the rear bench fortifies the spaciousness of the Toyota. Speaking of storage, the Prius has them in spades from cup holders to deep bins littered throughout, the boot might be a little shallow but its adequate for a large suitcase and several smaller bags. Unlike actual plug-in electric cars, the Prius’ pure EV mode is restricted to very low speeds or while coasting.