Toyota Prius+

Seven-seat version of the big-selling Toyota Prius arrives in Britain – and we've driven it

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Efficient, well built and practical, the Prius+ delivers precisely what large families need. It’s unexciting to drive, mainly due to the whining CVT gearbox, but drive gently and refinement and ride are both excellent. At £29,495 the top-spec T Spirit model isn’t cheap, which is why we’d recommend you save yourself £3,300 and stick with the cheaper T4 model – you’ll get the benefits of sub-100g/km emissions, too.

The Toyota Prius+ is the only seven-seater in the world to achieve sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, and for some eco-conscious families that will be enough. But how does the rest of the package stack up against more conventional MPV rivals? We drove it in the UK to find out.

The first thing that strikes you is its size – it’s 155mm longer (80mm of which comes from an extended wheelbase), 30mm wider and 85mm higher than the Prius, but as it shares styling cues and a similar aerodynamic silhouette, it doesn’t look as large as it should. But Toyota is keen to stress this isn’t only a standard car pulled in every direction; it’s an entirely new model.

An advantage of a clean-sheet design is that you can shuffle the vital components around to improve packaging. The Prius+ is therefore the first Prius outside of the Plug-in to use smaller, lighter lithium-ion batteries, which slot under the second row of seats, with no impact on interior space.

All five rear seats fold down individually, while the second row slides back and forth, too. This is a genuine seven-seater, so even average-sized adults can squeeze into the third row, but in reality it’s better suited to kids.

Boot space is a measly 200 litres with all seven seats in place, but fold the third row and that increases to 505 litres, while there’s 1,750 litres of space with the second row folded flat. That’s some way behind the 2,297 litres offered by the SEAT Alhambra, but useful nonetheless. A boot opening that’s 95mm wider than the Prius is a handy feature, too.

Powering the Prius+ is the same hybrid powertrain as the standard car, where a 98bhp petrol engine and 81bhp electric motor combine to give 134bhp. There’s nothing wrong with how it accelerates, especially in the more responsive power mode, as the electric motor’s boosting effect means plenty of torque. But the noisy CVT gearbox is annoying.

There is an upside, though, as any more than quarter-throttle produces such an awful whine it encourages you to drive it smoothly and steadily – precisely what the Prius+ is good at.

Entry-level T4 models are £26,195, and produce 96g/km, while standard kit includes a rear-view camera, head-up display and a panoramic roof. Our test car was a top-spec T Spirit, which adds luxuries like leather, sat-nav and 17-inch alloys. But it costs £29,495, and CO2 creeps over the 100g/km road tax threshold.

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