The Toyota Prius GT made its UK debut among some of history’s finest racing and sports cars at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now the prototype model is to take its place centre-stand at the Paris Motor Show, demonstrating how hybrid power technology does not prohibit sparkling performance and driving pleasure.
The Prius GT is based on the production Prius model, developed to demonstrate the versatility of hybrid technology. It retains the combination of 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor in the Hybrid Synergy Drive system, tuned to deliver 147bhp. Modifications are simple: the GT uses the same engine, electric motor, generator and battery as the standard Prius.
The power output is higher than for any other 1.5-litre diesel or petrol engine on the market, while specific power output rises to almost 100bhp per litre. In regular production specification, the Toyota Prius delivers 110bhp.
To match the increase in power output, the car’s complete suspension system – shock absorbers, springs and anti-roll bars – has been upgraded for sharper handling and improved grip. The Prius GT also adopts the same tyres as the Toyota Celica sports coupe for greater grip and the hybrid battery has been moved further back in the vehicle to achieve a near perfect front-to-rear weight balance.
The GT has a stripped-out interior with a safety cage, harnesses and just two sports seats up front. As a result the weight of the car is 1,120kg, 180kg less than the standard production model.
More power and less weight mean significant gains in performance: nought to 62mph acceleration can be achieved in 8.7 seconds. In spite of the higher output, fuel economy and emissions levels are virtually unchanged when the GT is driven at normal speeds, due to the extra engine power being counterbalanced by the efficiency gains in the electric circuit and reduction in weight.Published 4 September 2004