LOS ANGELES — Toyota Motor Corp. has been saying it has a hit with its new Prius c five-door hatchback, which is the smallest hybrid in the Prius family. Now there’s some independent analysis that shows this is one of the hottest small cars to hit the market in many years.

In its first three days on the market earlier this month, Toyota sold more than 1,200 of the subcompact hybrids. It starts at $18,950, but a mid-grade version has a sticker price of $21,635.

To put the 1,200 sales in perspective, Edmunds.com auto analyst Jessica Caldwell pointed out that many cars – including the similarly small, but non-hybrid, Smart Fortwo and even Toyota’s Scion XD – didn’t sell even 1,000 units last month.

Caldwell said the “c” has the opportunity to make a dent in the subcompact market, which includes well reviewed vehicles such as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent.

According to Edmunds.com data about what car shoppers are researching on the Internet, the new Prius model is “already the third-most-considered vehicle in the subcompact segment with 10 percent of those shoppers taking a look,” Caldwell said. “This is pretty significant because awareness is generally low when a vehicle launches, so the fact it came on so strong shows a lot of interest and market receptiveness.”

The Edmunds data show that people shopping for Honda’s Insight hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle also are taking a serious look at the “c,” which like those cars has seen consumer interest increase with rising gas prices.