As a plug-in hybrid, the Prius Plug-in needs to be both a relaxing EV city runabout yet capable and comfortable outside it too, and it performs well in both departments.
In the city, it offers a typically relaxing EV experience, with responsive acceleration and gentle motor-buzzing mixed with some road roar. Extra noise and vibration insulation has been added to the car to improve refinement, but there is still some work to do before it can be described as a class leader.
The EV enjoyment doesn’t last long, because the 8.8kWh lithium ion battery is only realistically capable of delivering 25 miles from a full charge. Likewise, although 283mpg is claimed, you can expect a fuel economy figure closer to the high 60s, which isn't much better than what the regular hybrid Prius can achieve.
Our test car's optional £1500 solar roof package, added to Business Edition Plus trim, is said to be able to add up to three miles a day to the battery’s range. But while that sounds like a great idea, the cruel reality of dreary UK weather will mean it'll struggle to make that impact.
On longer runs, the Prius Plug-in behaves much like the standard Prius: fairly comfortable, not particularly quick and generally unremarkable. The transition of power from EV mode to the 1.8-litre petrol engine is seamless, but the engine tends to rev away to its redline under hard acceleration, which is grating - although it does settle down at a cruise.
Work has been done to improve the ride, with new double wishbone rear suspension and a lower centre of gravity, the latter of which is noticeable in corners; body roll is well controlled and the handling generally competent, if uninspiring, on small 15in wheels. However, the body can shudder over the worst bumps, and it tends to float and wallow over crests.
Inside, a bigger battery comes at the expense of less space than the hybrid, with only two rear seats and considerably less boot space. Otherwise, it’s a familiar layout, with a 4.2in touchscreen infotainment system that is muddled in its layout but packed with features.
Entry-level £29,195 Business Edition Plus includes touchscreen sat-nav, Bluetooth and a DAB radio, automatic headlights and a head-up display. The top model, the £31,395 Excel, adds automatic wipers, self-parking, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery and an upgraded stereo.