The pioneer Prius of 1997 set a new standard for clean emissions among petrol-powered cars but Toyota’s first hybrid lacked performance, handling and refinement. TheCar of the Year 2005 is everything the original was not. It has appealing looks and good accommodation. Performance is relatively lively, with the availability of 110 hp when combining the thrust of the Atkinson-cycle engine and the electric motor. Fuel economy may be outstanding when a gentle driving style is applied, encouraged by the character of this vehicle. At the touch of a button it can even run –silenty– as a pure electric vehicle, but the batteries alone won’t take you very far.