Toyota’s New GR Performance Lineup Includes Sportier Version of Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid

By · September 19, 2017

Prius PHV GR Sport

Toyota announced today that the design of the Prius Prime will add some excitement when the company introduces a high-performance version of the plug-in hybrid in Japan. While Toyota has not yet confirmed plans to launch GR option packages in the US market, the Prius Prime is the only model in the new performance GR sub-brand that is currently sold in the US. In Japan, the more stylish version of the plug-in hybrid, which offers 25 miles of all-electric range, will be called the Prius PHV GR Sport.

The company tapped GAZOO Racing, Toyota’s in-house racing division to oversee the planning and production of sports cars. Toyota will introduce the new GR Series for the Japan-market Prius and other models before the end of this year.

The new packages offer a sportier grille design, white painted brake calipers, special badging, and racing seats. The Prius GR Sport adds specially tuned suspension and a chassis stiffening brace for improved handling. The car’s interior also features a special tachometer, aluminum pedals, a Smoke Black trimmed shift knob, and a small diameter steering wheel.

The main target of the new brand is younger customers, according to Gazoo Racing President Shigeki Tomoyama. “What constitutes the heart of the Gazoo brand is a desire for challenges and to make innovations by breaking through barriers,” he said earlier this year.

Some industry observers believe that the new sub-brand, which emphasizes performance, creates a conflict with the company’s long-time focus on advanced eco-friendly cars powered by batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. However, by adding a sporty option for the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, the company is instead signaling how it intends to expand the appeal of cars that are more efficient.

As we reported earlier this year, the Toyota Prius Prime is vying to become this year’s second most popular plug-in car in the US despite a relatively low profile and a reputation as being somewhat dull.

Even with its relatively dowdy appearance and a driving range that less than half of the Chevy Volt, its chief competitor, it appears that the Prius Prime could become the country’s most popular plug-in hybrid and come in second only to the Tesla Model S as the best-selling plug-in electric vehicle.

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