What If: Turbo Prius – Why Not? Seriously

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I shot this Prius sporting a Turbo badge a few years back, and laughed it off as a humorous oxymoron. But then last night, as I was driving home from Portland down flat and straight I-5 in the TSX, monitoring my speed and fuel economy to see at what steady speed I could still break 30 mpg (80-81 mph), it occurred to me: I can’t be the only person who loves both high speed and high efficiency. So why doesn’t Toyota build a sporty Prius, one that can hit 0-60 in say six seconds, and still break 40 mpg at 80 mph? It can’t be that hard.

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I’ve been a fan of highly aerodynamic cars since I first encountered Tatras as a little kid. Their superb aerodynamics made them fast beyond anything else in their displacement class. They were just the thing for a fast run on the new German autobahns.

Toyota prius_gs1_bks_l

Many love to hate on the Prius’ shape, but I suspect that has more to do with its image. If the Prius had been built as a high performance sedan, using its superb aerodynamics for speed, I suspect there would be less negativity. It’s the Tatra of its time. Now it just needs a bit more oomph, although a stock Prius will hit 112 or more. Not quite enough for a serious blast on the autobahn or the Oregon high desert.

Toyota Prius-by-Wald-International-4

And its 0-60 of some 10 seconds or more is hardly breathtaking. So how about a bit of performance upgrading, which really doesn’t have to effect efficiency materially. A turbo on the Atkinson-cycle 1.8L four to boost it up to some 130-140 hp. And a bigger battery and electric motor from Toyota’s parts bin, as used in one of their bigger hybrids, to augment the gas engine even more on acceleration.

It should be pretty easy to get that 0-60 time down to around 6 seconds, and top speed up to 130+, on a continuous basis, even when the battery gives out.  And round out the package with steering and suspension upgrades, as well as a bit more bodywork to make it obvious that this is not just an eco-weenie-mobile.

Toyota Prius 100mph

Given that current low gas prices are bound to affect Prius sales negatively, creating an Eco-Sport Turbo Prius seems like a viable undertaking, one that would round out the Prius family and wouldn’t cost that much to put together. It’s the perfect bridge between performance and efficiency. I can’t be the only one that likes to roll down the road fast and economically, watching both the speedometer and average mpg readout.