Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) has unveiled an ‘upgraded’ version of the Prius in honour of the 100th edition of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Known as the Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition, this concept vehicle is based on the latest generation of Toyota’s hybrid hatchback.
While the company hasn’t mentioned any changes to its powertrain, the special edition Prius features various upgrades inspired by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) entrant, the GR010 Hybrid.
The Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition boasts a lower and more aggressive stance, sitting 30mm lower than the standard Prius, with widened front and rear tracks by 40mm. It rides on 235/50 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires mounted on aerodynamic 18-inch RAYS wheels.
The vehicle includes several exterior enhancements such as a carbon-fibre hood, 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 to improve nighttime visibility. These headlamps are adapted from the WEC challenger. Aerodynamic additions to the model include side skirts, canards on the front fenders, and a rear diffuser.
This concept vehicle could serve as a way for Toyota to gauge interest in a sportier production version of the Prius. While Toyota has not previously offered a GR (Gazoo Racing) version of the Prius, it did introduce a sporty-looking GR Sport variant of the previous generation in Japan. There were earlier reports from Japan suggesting that Toyota was planning to unveil a Prius GR Sport based on the Prius PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).
Toyota is expanding its range of GR cars, with models like the GR Supra, Yaris, Corolla, and 86 in the full GR range, while the GR Sport range includes the C-HR and LandCruiser 300 Series in Australia.
The Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition is currently on display for fans at the ‘Japan, Endless Discovery’ exhibit in the Le Mans Manufacturer’s Village. The exhibit celebrates Japanese success in motorsports and is a collaborative effort between Toyota Gazoo Racing, Mazda, and the Japan National Tourism Organisation.
While the Prius may not be the first choice associated with motorsport performance, Toyota emphasises that the knowledge gained from hybrid technologies implemented in its motor racing division has been applied to production hybrid vehicles like the Prius hatchback.
This weekend, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team will compete for its sixth consecutive victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, facing competition from new entrants like the Ferrari 499P in the hypercar category.
Although the fifth-generation Prius was unveiled last year, it is not planned for release in ASEAN markets. The new generation offers 2.0-litre hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options, a departure from the previous model’s 1.8-litre variants.
The plug-in hybrid option delivers a significant increase in power, with a total system output almost doubling from 122hp to 220hp, resulting in a 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds. Toyota also promises the same fuel efficiency as before but with a 50% higher driving range, approximately 60km.
The new 2.0-litre series parallel hybrid system in the Prius maintains the same level of fuel efficiency as the outgoing model, which had a claimed combined cycle fuel consumption of 3.4L/100km.
It offers a total system output of 193hp, comparable to the 2.0-litre hybrid found in the Corolla Cross and significantly higher than the previous model’s 120hp 1.8-litre engine. Additionally, the Prius hybrid can be equipped with the latest E-Four all-wheel drive system, an option that was available in the outgoing model in certain markets.
For Malaysians, UMW Toyota have announced to taking a multi-prong approach to reaching carbon neutrality and have teased cars like the Camry Hybrid and fully electric bZ4X – even the Mirai has been spotted on our shores! However, no word yet on this newest generation of Prius.