Toyota just unveiled the Prius PLUS Performance Package, a new hybrid "performance" line by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). I'm putting performance in quote marks because most of the changes are cosmetic, kind of like the difference between the Toyota Corolla CE and Corolla S. Toyota claims that this new package was created to meet the "evolving demands of the growing hybrid segment", which could mean that they want to attract some of the same demographic that Honda is aiming for with the CR-Z Hybrid (while disappointing on fuel economy, it does bring a sportier look to the hybrid world). Read on for details on what the new package includes.
"The Prius PLUS Performance Package starts with a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit including a uniquely styled rear diffuser, which enhances its already sleek appearance and maintains its 0.25 coefficient of drag. The aero kit also includes front and rear bumper spoilers and side skirts, which are complemented by race-inspired 17-inch forged wheels. Their higher strength-to weight ratio assists in keeping the corner weight down and performance up, while maintaining the Prius' overall light vehicle weight and high fuel efficiency. The wheels are fitted with low profile 215/45R17 tires and have a custom offset, which increases track width yet maintaining Prius' rolling resistance."
Nothing super-exciting, but at least they didn't sacrifice any fuel economy. People who were on the line about buying the Prius but wanted something that looks a little bit better will be pleased.
"The PLUS package delivers surprising traction and handling without sacrificing any fuel efficiency. Improved performance handling is achieved with the installation of sport-tuned lowering springs that provide a lower center of gravity, enhancing the vehicles on-road performance through quicker turn-in, enhanced steering response and improved cornering ability. A rear sway bar is added to reduce body roll for flatter, more stable cornering and maneuverability."
This sounds good, but we'll have to wait for real-world testing to see if it really improves the Prius's handling that much.
The PLUS package will be available on the Prius starting in April 2011. No word yet on pricing.
More on Hybrid Cars
Toyota is Turning Old NiMH Batteries Into New Batteries
Nissan Launches the Fuga Hybrid in Japan (Coming to US as an Infiniti in 2011)
Volvo to Make Plug-In Diesel Hybrid Based on V60 Wagon in 2012
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to be Eligible for $1,300 Tax Credit