A hybrid vehicle is not the first one that you would choose when thinking about modifying, especially when thinking about performance.
However, there are certain elements of low emission vehicles that can lead to high performance, such as high fuel efficiency, top level reliability and low aerodynamic drag.
To impress the crowds at the Speciality Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Toyota USA aimed to impress the crowds that demand high quality modified cars that set themselves apart from the road-going versions. With the help of Gordon Ting of Beyond Marketing, who was brought in to change the public's perception of the Prius to a car that could handle as well as a sportscar, Toyota was able to create the Prius G.
Inspiration for the design was drawn from the Prius GT300 used in Japan's Super GT racing series, which helped it gain some racing characteristics while staying road legal. The 'G' in the name stands for Ting and the Toyota team's ambition to create 1G of grip without modifying the Hybrid Synergy Drive and instead focusing on the chassis to improve lateral adhesion.
With the help of the TNGA platform fitted to the fourth-generation Prius – which already provides better handling than the previous models – and a lower centre of gravity, many of the elements to make the team achieve their goal were already there. However, as with many other projects, it wasn’t as simple as first thought.
For the team, the main challenge was to develop parts that could be used on the Prius, as many aren't in existence, and with a complete interior strip down to make it much lighter, the Prius G was certainly looking much racier by the end of the process.
During testing, the Prius G was able to consistently hit 0.99 G on the skid pan at Willow Springs International Raceway, which is on par with many performance vehicles and an impressive feat in itself.
This led the judging committee of the top ten cars for the SEMA event unable to leave the Prius G off the list, and it showed that hybrid vehicles could be accepted in the modification community.