The Toyota Prius is often the butt of many automotive jokes. Although it is a very popular model and basically set the stage for hybrid cars in America, the enthusiasts and the motorsports world have never taken the Toyota Prius serio… [gets interrupted by in-ear monitor] Wait, Toyota made a Prius rally car? And, it’s the coolest hybrid car ever made?
Yes. Formula one cars are hybrids, but let’s not worry about that. Those are purpose-built war machines that barely count as cars anyways. The Toyota Prius is a more appropriate hybrid as we tend to think about them.
The Toyota Prius rally car is the coolest hybrid car in the world
Now, as Car and Driver keenly points out, Toyota has been known, even recently, to make some pretty rad Rally cars. Most recently, the Toyota GR Yaris. This homologous rally car spec road car has had the lustful eye of many American’s fogging up their computer screens until maybe we can get one… someday.
No. The Prius rally car is something else. This dirt-slinging Prius is an after-hours special that a handful of Toyota engineers whipped up. Although transforming one of the most hated cars on the market into the coolest hybrid car ever is impressive, this is not Toyota’s first rodeo.
The last time Toyota engineers overhauled a normal street car was the badass Corolla iM rally car. This one was nearly stock when Toyota submitted it to the dirt track. This rally Prius is a bit more gnarly and much more rally.
Can you turn a Toyota Prius into a real rally car?
Hell yeah! Well, at least Toyota can. Toyota took a bone stock Prius AWD-e and set to work on making one of the coolest hybrid cars of all time. Toyota immediately gutted the interior and welded in all the necessary parts to make the cockpit rally safe. Toyota added a full cage, Sparco racing seats, five-point harnesses and replaced all the glass with lightweight plexiglass.
The body didn’t receive much in the way of a massive widebody kit or anything like that. However, it did get some extra rally lights, a roof scoop, a tow hook, and a skid plate. Although, the roof scoop is mostly for looks.
The heavy lifting was done underneath the Prius. As noted by Car and Driver, the Prius, along with many other Toyotas, is built using Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). This made selecting an upgraded suspension for the Prius much easier. The team settled on Rav4 TRD dampers on both axles and Camry and Avalon TRD springs.
How’d the Toyota Prius rally car do?
According to Car and Driver, the seemingly out-of-place little hybrid felt right at home. The suspension mods weren’t seamless on the rough bits, but they worked. As far as handling was concerned, the Prius was called “sure-footed” in the corners.
Because the team also pulled the corresponding fuses for stability control and anti-lock braking, the Prius was able to flick around the muddy corners like a real rally car. Unfortunately, there was no handbrake, but all things considered, the result is an undeniably cool transformation from a tepid hybrid to a white-knuckle rally animal.