The infamous Prius, hated among many for its "rice cake" styling and obnoxious drivers. Despite this, it's become one of the best-selling cars in California. Why? It's a smart choice for people who don't care. The people who do care, however, loathe the hatchback. Why?
The Prius represents everything Toyota is not. It represents what Toyota has become: a corporation playing it safe by providing the public with reliable appliances, rather than screaming sports cars and AWD homologated rally cars. This is why we choose to hate the Prius. Right?
Wrong. Well, somewhat. But still. Toyota gave us the Prius V (Versatility), and the Prius C (Compact), along with the normal Prius. What they need to give us, is something like...
Prius S (Sport).
(Pictured: Tommy Kaira Toyota Prius)
Toyota has a history of giving some of their models the XRS badge, specifically the Corolla and the Matrix. XRS meant that the car yielded the 1.8 2ZZ-GE, which was born in the Celica, and eventually found its way into the Elise, albeit supercharged. The point is, XRS was a good thing for Toyota, and did a great thing for the cars that wore that badge.
So now you're thinking that I'm going to suggest a Prius XRS and move on with my life. I'm not. No, the 2ZZ-GE, while a great engine, would do nothing to spice up the Prius. Should Toyota want to build a competitive sporty Prius, stuffing the 2ZZ-GE in the front would simply make it a half-assed hot hatch, in the same way the Honda Civic Si doesn't really compete well in its segment.
A sporty Prius would want to compete with the Focus ST.
(Full Disclosure: This is just pure speculation on my part.)
The 2ZZ-GE is a capable engine. In the hands of Lotus, it produces over 240 horsepower, supercharged, in the Exige. So, supercharge the 2ZZ-GE, stuff it in the front of a Prius, and move on? While that's economically viable for Toyota, I feel like they could do better than a recycled, tired engine with a supercharger glued on.
I'm going to go multiple ways on this, so stay with me:
- Yes, a Prius XRS would make a lot of sense economically and would show a modicum of enthusiasm for performance. However, it would not compete with anything.
- A Prius XRS with a supercharger would be a fine competitor to the likes of the Focus ST. It may still be economically viable for the company, and would show a great deal of enthusiasm for performance. However this is more unlikely than a normal XRS-spec Prius (should Toyota ever plan something like this). Also, the 2ZZ-GE is old.
- 8AR-FTS, the turbocharged 2.0 4-cylinder engine in the Lexus NX-200t. It produces 235 horsepower at 4,800RPM, and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,650 RPM. Not only would it make a great replacement to the 2ZZ-GE, it would make a great engine in the Prius.
Okay, I know none of this is going to happen, so put down your pitchforks. It's fun thinking about a fun Prius, though, especially since the brand could really benefit from it.