Unless you’re a Toyota fanatic or closely follow Japanese racing series’, you may not know that the Toyota Prius has competed in the nation’s GT300 championship for a number of years.
Now before you scroll to the comments section with a number of confused questions, we’ll get the most important things out of the way straight away. Yes, the Prius filmed during recent shakedown tests is indeed the facelifted model unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Yes, it is actually a Prius. No, it barely shares anything in common with the road-going model you can walk into your local dealership and buy.
Rather than equipping the race car with a boring hybrid powertrain like the production model, the Toyota Prius GT300 racer has a thumping V8 under its skin. What’s more, this engine is mounted in the middle of the vehicle and in order to comply with GT300 regulations, has its power capped at 300 hp.
For a V8, that’s not a lot of grunt. However, it is a healthy boost over the 120-odd horsepower offered up by regular Prius models.
The Prius prototype in question was filmed bathed in camouflage and being taken to its limits by a very committed driver.
Much like current NASCAR vehicles, it would be nearly impossible to recognize this racer as a Prius if it wasn’t for the headlights and taillights. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as the Prius name doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a potent race car designed to win races and championships.