Green Car of the Year 2016: Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is the 2016 Auto Express Green Car of the Year, with the BMW i3 and Kia Niro commended

If there’s one firm that knows a thing or two about building hybrids, it’s Toyota. The pioneering Prius is now into its fourth generation, and nearly 20 years on from the original model, it’s more efficient and user-friendly than ever, which means it’s a deserving recipient of our Green Award.

The latest version is also a car that has embraced its eco sensibilities, thanks to a new look that shouts green machine from every angle. Of course, it won’t be to all tastes, but the low, narrow nose, rising waistline, flared wheelarches and chopped-off tail are a refreshing change from the bland previous-generation Prius.

• Best hybrid cars on sale

It’s equally hi-tech inside, with gloss-white trim and a two-tier central dashboard that has a raft of eco-driving displays in the top section, as well as a large central touchscreen within easy reach.

Press the start button, and you’re greeted by the usual chime from the car that tells you it’s ready to go, then simply put it in drive and let the petrol/electric drivetrain decide which form of power is best. And that’s the best thing about the Prius: as it’s so user-friendly and easy to drive, it demands no compromises.

You can travel in whisper-quiet EV mode, but the transition to combined power is seamless and the petrol engine is hushed, even when you’re using its full potential. Elsewhere, the on-board electronics manage energy flow between the wheels, engine and battery.

Toyota Prius - front cornering

Best electric cars on the market

The low-slung driving position takes a bit of getting used to, but it gives a clue to the Toyota’s new-found cornering ability. The batteries are mounted low to keep the centre of gravity down, while direct steering and a sharp chassis make it surprisingly entertaining.

What’s more, as the Prius is packaged around its hybrid system, no space has been sacrificed, while the near-silent running will be a revelation to everybody on board. 

Our choice

Toyota Prius Business Edition Plus (£25,595)

All Prius models are powered by the same petrol/electric powerplant, so your choices come down to price and kit. The well equipped Business Edition Plus is great value, but make sure you tick the box for 15-inch wheels, as they lower emissions from 76 to 70g/km. 

Commended

BMW i3

BMW i3 front tracking

BMW’s electric i3 city car embraces the very definition of hi-tech with its stand-out looks and advanced construction. There’s generous use of carbon fibre to help keep the car’s weight down, and if range anxiety still prevents you from buying a full EV, the range extender version has a motorcycle engine that gives you some added peace of mind.

Kia Niro

Kia Niro - front/side static

The Niro is the new kid on the hybrid block, and it’s a good first effort from Kia. It’s primarily sold on its family friendly qualities, but its petrol/electric drivetrain claims 74.3mpg, and the SUV looks and practical cabin mean it’s a great alternative to the Prius.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2016 

For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2016, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...  

Recommended

BMW i3 price slashed in response to new plug-in car grant
BMW i3
BMW i3

BMW i3 price slashed in response to new plug-in car grant

BMW has cut the i3’s base price to £33,805, following the government’s decision to restrict the plug-in car grant to car’s worth less than £35,000
30 Mar 2021
New 2023 Kia Niro spotted in heavy camouflage
Kia Niro - spyshot 1
Kia Niro

New 2023 Kia Niro spotted in heavy camouflage

The second-generation Kia Niro will go on sale in 2023, sporting fresh styling and a new 1.5-litre petrol engine lifted from the Ceed
3 Mar 2021
BMW i3 review
BMW i3s in-depth review - front
BMW i3

BMW i3 review

The BMW i3 is innovative, stylish and good to drive - delivering a premium small electric car with plenty of road presence
3 Feb 2021
Best used hybrid cars 2021
Toyota Prius

Best used hybrid cars 2021

Want to switch to electrified driving but on a budget? Try one of our best used hybrid cars for 2021
6 Jan 2021

Most Popular

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'
Opinion Nissan EV
Nissan

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'

Steve Fowler thinks Nissan is in a great position to build on the Leaf's success
8 Apr 2021
Nissan to launch new Juke-sized electric car
Nissan Juke EV - front (watermarked)
Nissan Juke

Nissan to launch new Juke-sized electric car

The new Nissan Juke-sized electric car will sit below the Ariya, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
8 Apr 2021
New 2021 Citroen C5 teased ahead of reveal on 12 April
Citroen C5 2021
Citroen C5

New 2021 Citroen C5 teased ahead of reveal on 12 April

New flagship Citroen C5 model will make its debut next week, sporting a bold new look
8 Apr 2021