The idea of a performance-oriented Prius might seem counterintuitive but it’s far from being a novelty. There have been multiple iterations of a race car built for the Super GT series in Japan, not to mention road-going models with Gazoo Racing branding for the domestic market. With the fifth-generation model out and about, it was only a matter of time before the eco-warrior would show its sporty side.
Meet the (takes a deep breath) Toyota Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition. Its official debut took place today at the dawn of the 100th anniversary of the endurance race held at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. What does the Prius have in common with Le Mans? The eco-friendly pioneer has helped Gazoo Racing evolve its hybrid technology, which has been improved over the years in the TS030, TS040, TS050, and the more recent GR010 endurance race cars – all of which carry the “Hybrid” suffix.
The conceptual sporty Prius gets a comprehensive aerodynamic package with front canards and splitter, along with beefy side skirts, fender flares, a large rear wing, and a massive diffuser. Toyota through its performance division has also fitted with a carbon fiber hood and four-point LED lights influenced by the GR010 Hybrid.
The athletic hybrid rides on bespoke aero-optimized RAYS wheels measuring 18 inches and wrapped around in 235/50 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. The revised lower front air intake now has a honeycomb structure and we’re being told the GR Prius boasts a “wide-track suspension.”
As to why the concept can be seen next to the Mazda MX-30 R-EV (yes, the one with the rotary engine), it’s because the cars are part of an exhibit celebrating the triumph of Japanese race cars at Le Mans. The Zoom-Zoom company was the first brand from the Land of the Rising Sun to achieve success at Le Mans in 1991 with the rotary-powered 787B. Toyota scored five consecutive wins (2018-2022) and is hoping to win its sixth race in 2023.
It’s too soon to say whether there will be a full-fat GR Prius with a license plate but Toyota’s newly appointed CEO and President Koji Sato promised at the beginning of the month there will be more GR cars. Sadly, there’s still no word about a production version of the GR Super Sport, which was supposed to be a road-going hypercar with over 1,000 horsepower.
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