Now that the 2023 Toyota Prius is here, with its lower, wider, shorter chassis and its entry-level sportscar acceleration, it feels quite natural to consider a GR Prius Prime that would gift this plug-in hybrid version with proper dynamic attributes. And that’s precisely what this independent rendering brings, while building on assets the carmaker itself has been developing for a while.
Given that the Prius became the world’s first mass-produced hybrid back in 1997, and entered the international market three years later, most people know this is a highly efficient automobile, and many respect it for that. However, with EVs and especially Teslas having taken the Toyota’s role as an eco-statement vehicle driven by celebrities and such about a decade ago, Prii were sent back to their dull image and bumper sticker games.
Around the middle point of the previous decade, Toyota started injecting enthusiasm into the Prius family. In its domestic market, the Prius got GR Sport models packing modest upgrades focusing mainly on chassis and looks. As for the U.S., well, Toyota did drift the hell out of the fourth-generation Prius for a Superbowl commercial, but that was the end of it.
The 2023 Prius was already built with the right dynamic attributes
Well, the Japanese automaker, which has famously taught cool brands like Porsche the efficient way of building cars, has decided it’s time to make some more serious efforts regarding the dynamic side of the 2023 Prius.
So the fifth-gen model swept everybody off its feet earlier this week when it debuted with looks that no longer simply favor aerodynamic efficiency and visibility, but also get your heart racing.
And, to back that up, the hybrid powertrain has spent some serious time at the gym. The displacement of the N/A four-cylinder engine went from 1.8 to 2.0 liters, while there’s a heftier battery and electric motor. Toyota doesn’t mention each side’s contribution, but the electric part probably does most of the upgrade work—in the end, we know that the plug-in hybrid model, the only one sold in Europe and the car America knows as Prius Prime, now offers a respectable 220 hp.
And since the bigger motor spins the rear wheels, the AWD Prius Prime can cover the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 6.6 seconds, which makes it about as quick as the retired Toyota GT86 and not that far from the latter’s successor, the GR86 (5.4s).
Underneath the sexy exterior, the 2023 Prius rides on Toyota’s GA-C platform and keeps that larger battery below the rear seats for better weight distribution. For the record, this architecture also underpins the current Corolla and, to an extent, the Yaris, both of which have been gifted with mighty impressive GR models.
In addition, straight from the official unveiling, the carmaker has introduced (still unnamed) GR parts for the 2023 Prius, while its in-house tuner Modellista has gifted the gas-electric model with aero packages that look downright wild.
So most of the ingredients required for a Toyota GR Prius Prime performance plug-in hybrid are already there. And, in case you’re wondering how such a machine would look like, the rendering we’ve brought along has a pertinent answer.
This digital Toyota GR Prius looks the part
Created by digital artist Theottle, this gifts the fifth-gen with flared arches and the kind of rally-bred stuff the GR Yaris WRC car has brought to the Toyota family. In case the whole story sounds familiar, it’s probably because a few Toyota engineers based in Michigan came up with a Prius rally car, as Car and Driver wrote.
There have also been V8 swaps for the drag strip and many other ways of seriously spicing up Prii. And all those projects might just convince Toyota there’s a reason for it to officially pump up the famous hybrid nameplate.
Yes, Yasunori Suezawa, the GR86 chief engineer, has stated that the GR family (GR Supra, GR86, GR Yaris, and GR Corolla) will not be expanding further and that’s a serious barrier. Then again, with the GR86 rumored to he replaced by a hybrid sports car in just a few years, things might change.
Besides, all the road performance models mentioned above are ICE-only (internal combustion engine) models. But if we move into Gazoo Racing’s motorsport activities, we’ll notice the top dog is the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which took the inaugural Le Mans Hypercar trophy (Le Mans race and FIA WEC top class title) this year, so why not bridge the gap, Toyota?