I’ve always found it difficult to feel any emotions at all about the Toyota Prius. From the moment Toyota Japan unleashed the XW20 Prius upon millions of hapless individuals around the world back in 2003, it has always been a car that prioritised aerodynamics over decent styling, lower rolling resistance over ride comfort and MPG statistics over pretty much everything else. The Prius has never quite looked like a “normal” car, and in this particular regard Toyota has really stepped things up a notch with their new 2016 model.
Presumably, what Toyota decided to do this time around was to beat the Prius unconscious with an ugly stick, before signing off on how it looked and sent it off to the production line. It really is as ugly as a hatful of arseholes. The bodywork shows telltale signs of the beating it endured – with an extremely busy arrangement of bumps, bruises and slashes evident all across the car. The front features two deep gouges on the outside edges of the headlights, which run all the way down to the bottom of the fog lights. The headlights themselves follow the gouge lines and spill downwards into the bumper, adding unnecessary and complicated details to the front of an already busy looking design. The blue glow Toyota badge sits above an almost useless looking slender upper grille, which makes the Prius look like it has a nose and pencil moustache. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that none of the frontal design features gel together at all – but if you thought the front end looks bad, the rear might just be bad enough to bring the great taste of sick to your mouth.
Starting on the leading edge of the rear door is a rather sizeable swage line, which then turns super-sized as it smashes into the rear tail light, which itself looks like it is leaking down the back of the car. The rear hatch continues with the ‘busy’ theme, by featuring a glass insert (so you can see who you’re holding up) with a body coloured panel running across the top of it, almost giving the illusion of a rear spoiler. The c-pillars are blacked out to help give the illusion that the glass house continues all the way through, but even this detail is a failure when you consider how badly it meets up with the rear window on the hatch. Toyota call the design of their 2016 Prius “athletic”, but I think they might want to pull out their dictionaries and check up on the definition of the word, because what they have here is the complete opposite. For a while I’ve wondered where the designer of the original Ssangyong Stavic has been hiding out ever since it was released.. now I think I’ve worked it out.
The new Prius looks like it takes a slightly different approach to previous models, with Toyota suggesting “It’s not just about MPG any more,” according to their press release. Despite this, they’re claiming a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the previous model. Instead, Toyota is shifting the focus to design and technology, which aside from the gangrenous exterior also includes better driving dynamics and a Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes features such as automatic pedestrian avoidance and full-speed dynamic cruise – meaning the car will manage your speed for you, all the way to a full stop in a traffic jam.
The new Prius is expected to go on sale later this year, where it’ll face stiff competition from plug-in electric vehicles which hold the edge in terms of being a more ‘green choice’, not to mention conventional petrol and diesel passenger vehicles which aren’t that far behind the Prius’ MPG figures. Toyota faces real challenge to get Prius sales back on the upswing – something they will only achieve by making the vehicle more appealing beyond the green car claims. But only if it doesn’t scare everyone away first.