Toyota Prius concept is furious, but no faster
Named the Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition, the concept vehicle is based on the latest generation of Toyota’s hybrid hatchback.
Inspired by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s current World Endurance Championship (WEC) entrant, the GR010 Hybrid, the special edition Prius has received various upgrades, but the company makes no mention of any tweaks to its powertrain.
It has a lower, meaner stance, with the company confirming it has added “wide-track suspension”.
The upgraded model runs 235/50 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres with aerodynamic 18-inch RAYS wheels.
There’s a more prominent front lip, a honeycomb insert for the front air intake, and four low-set multi-headlamps on each side of the air intake for improved nighttime visibility. The latter is a feature adapted from the WEC challenger.
Aerodynamic parts added to the model include side skirts, canards on the front fenders, and a rear diffuser.
This concept vehicle may be a way for Toyota to gauge the interest in a sportier production Prius.
Toyota has never offered a GR Prius, though it did offer a sporty-looking GR Sport version of the previous generation in Japan.
Previous reports from Japan suggested Toyota was gearing up to reveal a Prius GR Sport, based on the Prius PHEV.
The Prius concept is on display for fans at the ‘Japan, Endless Discovery’ exhibit in the Le Mans Manufacturer’s Village.
Toyota Gazoo Racing partnered with fellow Japanese brand Mazda and the Japan National Tourism Organization to put on the exhibit celebrating Japanese success in motorsports.
It was Mazda that became the first Japanese winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991 with its rotary-engined 787B model. Today, Toyota Gazoo Racing is the only Japanese automaker competing in Le Mans.
Although the Prius isn’t the first model to come to mind when discussing motorsport performance, Toyota says the knowledge gained from the implementation of hybrid technologies in its motor racing division has been applied to production hybrid vehicles like the hatchback.
This weekend, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team will chase its sixth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans win, battling for the win against the likes of the newly introduced Ferrari 499P in the hypercar category.
Toyota revealed the fifth-generation Prius last year, but it has been ruled out for Australia.
While the previous model offered a choice of 1.8-litre hybrid and plug-in hybrid four-cylinder powertrains, the new generation gains 2.0-litre hybrid and plug-in hybrid set-ups. A 1.8-litre hybrid will continue as a base powertrain in markets like Japan.
The plug-in hybrid option consequently sees a significant jump in power, with total system almost doubling from 90kW to 164kW and the 0-100km/h time slashed to 6.7 seconds.
Toyota also promises the same fuel efficiency as before but 50 per cent higher driving range, or around 60km.
The new 2.0-litre series parallel hybrid is also claimed to maintain the same level of fuel efficiency as the outgoing Prius, which had an ADR combined cycle claim of 3.4L/100km.
It has a total system output of 144kW – essentially lineball with the 2.0-litre hybrid in the Corolla Cross, and well over the outgoing model’s 90kW 1.8-litre.
The Prius hybrid is also offered with the latest E-Four all-wheel drive system. While no all-wheel drive Prius models were sold here, this option was available in the outgoing model in other markets.
MORE: Everything Toyota Prius