To widen its hybrid-powered cars' appeal and to make more families greener drivers, Toyota has created the Prius+. In this larger form, does the Prius at last make perfect sense? AOL Cars finds out
What is it?
It's not complicated – in fact it's perfectly simple really. The Prius+ is a Toyota Prius with a 135mm longer body making it the world's first seven-seat full hybrid.
>What's under the bonnet?
It's based on the Prius so you get the same powertrain and mechanicals – which, if you need reminding is a 97bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine mated to a 60kW electric motor. The figures? Total power is 134bhp; top speed is 106mph; and the 0-60mph dash takes 11.1 seconds. CO2 emissions are 101g/km while fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 64.2mpg.
What's the spec like?
Only two models are available on the Prius+. Entry-level T4 models don't scrimp on the spec though and get 16-inch alloys; Toyota Touch touchscreen audio and multimedia control; Bluetooth; a heads-up display; rear view camera and keyless entry and start. T Spirit adds larger 17-inch alloys; Toyota Touch and Go Plus – touchscreen sat-nav – an upgraded JBL audio system; voice recognition and full-leather upholstery. Both models are packed with equipment – but so they should be considering the prices Toyota is asking for them. T4 is priced at £26,495 while T Spirit weighs in at a steep £29,795.
Well, considering it's the world's first seven-seat full-hybrid, there's no like-for-like rival. But if you're after a seven-seat MPV there are loads. Peugeot's 5008 is one, the Renault Grand Scenic is another. There's also the excellent Ford S-Max, Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and the Seat Alhambra.
Is it any good?
Yes and no. The seven-seat practicality is useful - but the back two seats are only really suitable for children, or adults with unusually small legs – and the middle-row of seats can fold and recline. There's plenty of storage and when the rear seats for short people are folded, there's a cavernous 500 litres on offer. Meanwhile, on the move, as long as you don't fluster the Prius+, it's a fine cruiser: It's quiet and smooth. However, this is where the negatives start. Go for an overtake and the electric CVT gearbox wails balefully, and any type of enthusiastic motoring means the all-electric mode is unusable. The interior materials are also disappointingly cheap in many areas, and the dashboard is ugly to look at.
The AOL Cars verdict
Unless you are hell-bent on telling the neighbours that you care for the environment, a diesel-powered MPV, we think, would be a wiser investment. Not only are MPVs powered by the black stuff cheaper in many respects, but a diesel engine in a family workhorse just makes more sense. The Prius+ is not an especially bad car – it's just that it doesn't make a particularly strong case for itself considering its price tag.
Model: Toyota Prius+ T Spirit
Price: £29,795 (as tested)
Engine: 1.8-litre, petrol electric hybrid
Power: 134bhp (in total), 142Nm of torque
Max speed: 103mph
MPG: 64.2mpg (comb'd)
Emissions: 101g/km CO2
Read our review of the Prius Plug-in here
Read our review of the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer here