There may be a high-performance Prius on the way.
The evidence, we admit, is slim. But it comes from a division of Toyota that likes to get playful with hints and teasers. And it’s almost Memorial Day weekend, so we’re all feeling a little whimsical. You can allow us one fun one.
The hint comes from Toyota Gazoo Racing – both an actual racing division and a shop that builds high-performance cars like the GR86 and GR Supra.
Gazoo Racing Frolics Online When They’re Up to Something
GR has a history of acting mischievous when they have something fun up their sleeve. In 2021, they started sneaking tiny hints of an aggressively styled hot hatch into ads for other Toyota cars. For months, the mystery car showed up in the shadows or in the distance in ads for the conventional Corolla hatchback.
By the time the GR Corolla appeared for sale, the world was primed for the little 300-horsepower, limited-run hot hatch.
They’re Starting Again
That process may be starting again. Gazoo Racing is preparing to compete in the legendary 24 Hours of Lemans endurance race in a few weeks. They’ve launched a website highlighting the drivers and prototype cars they’ll be running there.
At the bottom is an unexplained photo. It shows a garage door opening on a car with a Gazoo Racing license plate. The license plate frame indicates that this isn’t a race car. It’s a GR version of a production car.
Quad lights mounted low don’t match any existing Toyota product. But the shape of the lower air dam and the location of the tow hook covers above do. And it’s a weird one.
It seems to match the dimensions of the new 2023 Toyota Prius.
If We’re Crazy, So Are Others
We’re not the only ones to notice this.
Motor1 says, “Call us crazy, but it might just be a 2023 Prius dressed up as a race car.”
CarScoops comes to the same conclusion, saying, “The upper part of the bumper makes us think it might be a beefed-up version of the Toyota Prius.”
CarBuzz says it. AutoSpies came to the same conclusion. Little by little, the automotive press is coalescing around the idea that there’s a high-performance Prius on the way.
No one would buy the idea if we were talking about the last Prius.
The 2023 Prius Is Actually Kind of Quick
But the 2023 Prius is a wildly different car than every Prius model that came before. Our Colin Ryan, one of the first to drive it, said, “The notoriously lackadaisical Prius is now quicker than perhaps most cars in its size/price range.”
Our Mike Danger, a veteran Prius owner, got some time behind the wheel and actually shouted, “wheeee!”
In base form, the Prius now boasts 194 horsepower and an aggressive wedge shape that might not look ridiculous in GR form.
And we do expect new projects from GR this year. Former Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda – a well-respected semi-pro race car driver as well as a business leader – recently stepped down from leading the company to focus on passion projects at GR. This is just the kind of whimsy he’d endorse.
We’ll have to wait for more than the lowest four inches of the front bumper to be sure. But, if Gazoo’s history is any guide, this is just the first in a series of frisky teasers before we’ll know for sure.