Over the years, millions of drivers worldwide have been tempted by the promised efficiency of a Toyota Prius.
The latest car combines a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver 72.4mpg economy in standard guise. And the new Prius Plug-in uses lithium-ion batteries to power the motor, and allow 15.5 miles of electric-only running, which boosts fuel consumption claims to 134.5mpg. So why doesn’t the Toyota finish higher up in our top 10?
Well, as good as these figures are – and they combine with road tax-free emissions of 89g/km and 49g/km respectively – owners are unlikely to get close in the real world. At any speed beyond an urban crawl, the petrol engine takes over. It’s mated to a CVT box that makes for noisy progress, and once it kicks in you lose the benefit of the electric boost.
The boot size impresses, at 446 litres, but hard, scratchy plastics let down the spacious, well-equipped interior. A generous five-year, 100,000-mile warranty guards against any problems you might have with your Prius, but the high price will make a regular diesel family car more compelling for most buyers.