As interesting as fully electrically powered vehicles, such as the Smart ed, are we're going to be waiting just a while before they're available to average consumers like ourselves. In the meantime we'll just have to put up with the likes of the Toyota Prius, the third generation of which launches today.
Built, Toyota says, on a philosophy of "minimum outside, maximum inside," the 3rd gen Prius offers a number of improvements over its predecessors - some superficial, others less so and a couple helping in both respects. The new design, for example not only - at least in my eyes - improves the car's aesthetics, but also improves its drag coefficient; lowering it to a mere 0.25 - the lowest of any Hatchback apparently.
A smaller upper front grille is purported to maintain smooth airflow and a larger lower grille reduces air resistance and betters cooling. The front and rear bumper design has been tweaked to reduce turbulence in the Prius' wheel arches.
The same 2,600mm wheel base as sported by the last Prius remains, but internal tweaks provide more space. The updated dashboard offers an extra 10mm to the cabin length and backs to the front seats result in 20mm of extra legroom in the rear.
The car maintains a maximum height of 1,490mm, but the highest point has been moved 100mm further back, providing more rear headroom. Thanks to a more compact battery unit, placed under the Prius' floor, available storage improves massively from 445 to 1,120 litres - with the rear seats folded down. That's room enough for three golf bags on the resulting flat loading space!
The latest Prius will be available to buy from 1 August starting from £18,370 and we plan to take a look at one just as soon as we can.