Toyota plans to launch a performance version of the Prius, a car that used to be known for slow acceleration. Reports coming from Japan suggest a GRMN Prius is under development, although we don’t know when it will be ready or what kind of power to expect.
Earlier this year, Toyota caused quite a stir with the 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition, an upgraded Prius that seemed ready to complete the most arduous endurance race. It came with upgraded aero and endurance racing lights, and although it was dismissed as just a concept, we now understand its purpose.
According to the report from the Japanese magazine Best Car Web, a GRMN Prius will be developed based on the current Prius Prime. For those who don’t know, the Prime is a plug-in hybrid that has a 2.0-liter engine and a powerful electric motor. Together they make 220 hp and 139 pound-feet of torque.
The $34,000 Prime is able to sprint to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. It’s proven quite potent in various drag races against cars such as the Mazda3 GT Turbo, the Miata, and a few old V8 muscle cars. But 220 hp is not enough for a GRMN model.
Toyota’s GRMN cars are supposed to be built for the track, as the N stands for Nurburgring. As such, they have special engines. The Supra gets the legendary BMW B58, and the Corolla and Yaris GRMN share a 3-cylinder 1.6-liter turbo.
Toyota already boasts a more potent powertrain in the RAV4 Prime, offering a combined 302 horsepower. But according to the report from Best Car, the Prius will keep its 2.0-liter. But we think there’s actually a third option: making a hybrid out of the 1.6-liter turbo.
Turbo hybrid engines are actually pretty common on German performance cars now. And we know Toyota is already developing a 3-cylinder hybrid to go into the next-gen GR86. Of course, it’s a stretch, but we’re talking about a hot Prius, so expect the unexpected.
The Prius is one of the most popular cars with Japanese customizers and tuners. So, at least in that market, there should be a huge demand for the GRMN Prius, no matter the price.
Also in Japan, most cars are offered with optional AWD, so it’s possible this performance hybrid has a rear-mounted e-motor, just like the RAV4 Prime. That would require the chassis to be re-engineered around a new rear subframe. However, the GRMN Corolla has almost nothing shared with a regular Corolla, so it’s not uncommon.
According to Best Car, a potential Prius GRMN could benefit from more than just powertrain upgrades. In addition to the expected changes to the body, brakes, and suspension, engineers will enhance structural rigidity through additional spot welding points and increased use of structural adhesives. It sounds like Toyota is bringing the hot hatch into the modern era. A debut date hasn’t been set, but the GRMN Prius could take until 2025 to come out.