Even the bad times are looking good in Toyota's Prius c baby - and very bright - hybrid.

To be honest, I've had a prick of a day, but thanks for asking.

You know. The boss bawls you out for some stupid triviality; you spill coffee on your crotch; there's a call from school about something little Tamsyn has done, or not done - again; you've locked the keys inside the car.

What's needed is a good pick-me-up. Alcohol, perhaps. Going home and reading a random chapter from feeling-good guru Dr David Burns's best selling handbook? Buying some clothes?

Or not. I have a better antidote, although it must be said there's an up-front cost of around $30,000. When introduced to the motoring media a Conclusion:


Don't worry, you can be happy in a Prius c after a bad day at work - and it'll cost you only 30 grand.

couple of months ago, one of the Toyota executives suggested that, among its many attributes, driving home in the Prius c baby hybrid provided a great pick-me-up after a hard day.

I thought he was drawing a long bow, but I now know that he was right. It works for me better than a chocolate bar and two cold beers, or watching any sports team thump Australia.

How could you not feel better being in a car painted like the tester in Sunrise, a bright and cheerful colour that's sort of orange, sort of not? It's enough to brighten a dull, damp late winter afternoon and everyone looks at you admiringly. At least, I think it's admiration.

It's a tonic just being in Toyota's smallest hybrid. Its dash is like no other car's and the information centre's almost as good as a games console. It monitors all the dull stuff but also lets you compete against yourself or other drivers to get the best economy.

You programme-in the price of the petrol just added, then the computer keeps track of how much - or in Prius c's context, how little - it costs to go anywhere. It picks me up no end that it costs only 58 cents to go out of my way for a haircut, or to the jogging park for $1.10. I can get up my long driveway for eight cents and back for nothing, because it's downhill.

There's nothing worse after a grumpy day to have to manhandle some big tank through the traffic, but Prius c is small and lithe, with excellent outward vision.

What's not to like about waiting for three light changes to cross an intersection when your car is using and emitting nothing more than good vibes? The sound system's okay, too.

I feel even better the longer I drive, because the seats are really comfy, there's plenty of room for stuff I need to bring home, and I know I'm saving the planet, prompting the further feel-good factor of superiority.

A couple of things don't make be feel good. I don't like seeing bare paint on part of the hatch every time I look in the rearview mirror, even if it is Sunrise. It's Toyota's constant reminder that I'm aboard the cheapest new hybrid money can buy. I don't like the way a nasty vibration sets in around the A pillar whenever the Prius c is on coarse-chip seal, which is often. Too much buzzing and I'm starting to feel grumpy again; I hope it's not common to all examples.

But then I check the info centre and see I've beaten my previous best with a record 3.9 litres per 100 thanks to a short burst on the motorway, so it's all good again.

And I swear this isn't a jack-up, but the song, Don't Worry, Be Happy from the 1980s movie Cocktail has just come on the radio.