So, are we really talking about a Toyota Prius drag racing? Is that what the world has come to? Actually, the better rhetorical question is, is that what the Prius has come to? And folks, the answer is yes.
For the record, the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime isn’t billed as a performance vehicle. However, it does have 220 horsepower on tap from its hybrid powertrain, consisting of a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder merged with a single electric motor. According to Toyota, that’s enough to send the Prius Prime to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. That’s a touch quicker than a Honda Civic Si, and just a couple of tenths away from a Volkswagen GTI – two cars that do identify with the performance genre.
Gallery: 2023 Toyota Prius Prime
The crew at Throttle House on YouTube didn’t choose those two models for this three-way race. Instead, the sleek Prius faces the latest Subaru WRX and turbocharged Mazda3. As a refresher, Mazda brings 250 hp to the party with its boosted 2.5-liter four-pot. The Subie is also turbocharged and delivers a bigger punch, 271 hp to be exact. Also, both cars grip the tarmac with all-wheel drive whereas the Prius turns the front wheels here. It’s also the heaviest of the trio by a small margin, no doubt due to its hybrid powertrain. In short, the Toyota has a steep hill to climb.
We see two races in the short video, one from a standstill and another from a roll. To no great surprise, the turbocharged all-wheel-drive competitors blitz the Prius at the launch. The Mazda3 and WRX are capable of 60-mph sprints under six seconds, and both pull to an early lead. Here’s where things get interesting, however. No, the Prius doesn’t reel them back in. But they don’t really pull away, either. Okay, the Mazda stretches things out a bit, but the gap to the WRX remains constant. It’s a loss, but not by much.
That leads to the roll race, where the launch isn’t as critical. Sorry Prius fans, but it’s still not potent enough to nab a victory here. Whether it’s the extra weight, Toyota’s CVT battling a cogged Mazda automatic and a manual Subaru, or a lower power rating, the Prius still finishes last. But the gap is even smaller, barely a car length across the line. This from a vehicle with snazzy looks and a combined fuel mileage rating of 48 MPG on the highway. Color us impressed.
We aren’t saying the Prius Prime is a sleeper sedan. But it’s far from the humdrum poster child of anti-fun that it used to be. And we aren’t the only ones who think so.
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