Tired of being stuck behind that Prius driven by a hyper-miling pedal-featherer? Those days might be over. Today Toyota today introduced the Prius TRD SS, with an equivalent of 625hp, capable of eating a quarter mile in the 10 second bracket.
When Charles F. “Boss” Kettering developed fuels that would allow higher compression engines to operate without knocking, it was to maximize fuel efficiency in the face of a gasoline shortage, not to herald the beginning of the muscle car era. Similarly, when Toyota introduced Hybrid Synergy Drive in 1997, nobody would’ve predicted that it would’ve been in use on the RX450h crossover, the LS600h premium luxury car, and now the Prius TRD SS, a performance trim capable of running a quarter mile in the 10-second bracket.
“Toyota has gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that the Toyota Prius is a viable contender in every vehicle segment,” said Mike Faraday, Toyota’s Prius project manager at the unveiling at New Jersey’s legendary Old Bridge Raceway Park at Englishtown. “The Prius TRD SS is the natural evolution of hybrid power for the 21st century. If we can develop a hybrid system that can power a car like the LS600h, we can put that power to good use in a performance car.”
Like the muscle cars of the 1960s, the Toyota Prius TRD SS has the same basic shape as your mom’s grocery getter, but it’s been altered to allow for space for larger batteries, and features larger wheelarches to fit performance wheels, tires and 11.5-inch disc brakes. But it’s what’s under the hood that makes all the difference. “In place of the standard Prius’s electric motors, we’ve modified the Prius TRD SS with a GE 7.5 inch DC electric motor churning out about 375 kilowatts of power—an equivalent of about 500 horsepower. A bank of lithium-polymer with 400 cells juices the motor with 120 volts at 3,600 amps,” said Faraday.
That’s what allows the Prius TRD SS to launch off the line like a scalded cat. What gets it through the traps in a blistering 10.4 seconds at 135 miles per hour is the engine that it’s paired up with. In place of the puny 1.8-liter four cylinder in the standard Prius, the TRD SS starts with the Tacoma’s four cylinder at 2.7-liters. TRD engineers then fit it with a TRD supercharger kit, featuring an M-62 Eaton Supercharger, and a unique, separate plenum that boosts intake air pressure. It’s coupled with larger fuel injectors and a TRD SS specific stainless exhaust for straight-through performance and an exhaust note that will haunt Al Gore’s dreams.
In conjunction with the Prius TRD SS’s introduction at Old Bridge Raceway Park, TRD and the NHRA were also on hand to announce the Prius TRD SS Spec Racing program. “Prius TRD SS Spec Racing is intended to provide the opportunity to compete in similar cars with limited modifications,” said NHRA marketing manager George Westinghouse.
TRD SS Spec Racer Tom “O-zone” Edison explained that the Prius TRD SS could outperform some of the world’s most exotic sports cars on the drag strip. “There’s nothing more satisfying that leaving a Lamborghini in a cloud of water vapor,” Edison said.
The Prius TRD SS will be available for sale at Toyota showrooms in September of 2016, with an MSRP of $48,945, including destination charge. EPA estimates suggest that the Prius TRD SS will deliver 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and a combined fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon.