Toyota’s Prius Rally Car Gets Down and Dirty

The rally-car spotter’s guide saved in our psychological databases is flush with illustrations or photos of Subaru Imprezas, Audi Quattros, and Ford Cosworths—race cars and trucks synonymous with acquiring air in excess of a backwoods roller, carrying triple-digit speeds by means of a tunnel of trees, and turbos whooshing with brapipipbrappinganti-lag flames firing from the exhaust. But a Toyota Prius rally car or truck? Mistake 404: File not discovered.

Ahead of we go even further, do not confuse this Prius with the aero-outfitted freakazoid and manufacturing unit-backed Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris Environment Rally Challenge (WRC) racer or the Yaris GR established to contend in the Australian Rally Challenge. The Prius Rally is an just after-several hours undertaking car or truck produced by 3 Michigan-based Toyota engineers tasked with pushing the hybrid hatchback to soiled heights. Adapting a stock Toyota for rallying is nothing new for this workforce. Their former dirt-spewing generation was a Corolla iM rally auto.

To generate the Prius Rally, the crew selected the all-wheel-push Prius AWD-e. From there they gutted the inside and reworked the cockpit into a safe house by welding in a FIA-spec roll cage, bolting in Sparco racing seats with five-level harnesses, and changing all the home windows with lightweight plexiglass. The exterior stays mainly unchanged, the exception becoming some LED lights, a tow hook, skid plates, and a roof scoop. The scoop is largely for seems the Rally retains the Prius’s air-conditioning program to preserve the pilot and navigator snug and also the 1.3-kWh nickel-metallic hydride battery pack great and joyful.

To endure the thrashing it would obtain working a rally phase, the crew modified the Rally’s suspension. Given that the Prius is built on Toyota’s New World Architecture (TNGA) which is shared with lots of cars, there are considerable suspension factors that will bolt suitable on. The group settled on RAV4 TRD dampers on the front and rear axles with Camry and Avalon TRD springs, respectively. The combo provides .7 inch of ground clearance. To retain the suspension from bottoming out on impacts, an extra 50 % of a bump end was included at every single corner. To allow the suspension to operate far more independently, the inventory anti-roll bars were being taken out at the two ends.

A Prius AWD-e could be out of position on a moist and slick rally-cross program in a limestone parking good deal, but the Rally-tuned gasoline miser feels at residence here. The suspension performs and dulls impacts about undulated surfaces fairly than crashing by them. You can find a shocking quantity of surefootedness even when the rear unloads even though transitioning from corner to corner. The workforce deemed the conventional 15-inch wheels were hard enough for off-road duty and equipped them with medium-compound Cooper Rally rubber. Yanking a couple fuses disabled the anti-lock braking and steadiness-command techniques, enabling the exceptional chance to throw a Prius into a corner with a Scandinavian flick. Regrettably, the handbrake was eliminated, but the engineering team envisions inevitably making use of the regenerative braking from the rear motor to assist directional adjustments.

Dive tricky onto the brakes whilst incorporating a swift right-left enter into the steering wheel and the Prius Rally will go into an epic slide. The Cooper tires toss up dust and rocks that ping off the bare sheetmetal like a hailstorm in a cellular-property local community. Creating a Prius go quickly in the grime is like likely speedy in Mazda Miata on a street study course: Preserve velocity at all costs. The Prius Rally’s inventory powertrain is significantly from inspiring. The hybrid powertrain up front generates 121 horsepower even though the rear motor pumps out a puny 7 horsepower and gets rid of itself from the occasion previously mentioned 40 mph. In a preceding take a look at, a stock Prius AWD-e crawled to 60 mph in not-so-racy 10.7 seconds. Incorporate some dense soil and gradual corner exits to the equation and the Prius Rally is merely overwhelmed, like a exhausted animal mired in quicksand.


The absence of power is something the staff designs to deal with, and the TNGA platform provides options. The wonderful 302-hp powertrain discovered in the RAV4 Primary would seem like a no-brainer, or at minimum its larger battery pack and 53-hp rear motor. But to start with, the group needs to figure out where the American Rally Affiliation (ARA) will classify their development. To date, the Prius has competed in a person function, but for the reason that a hybrid rally car is uncharted territory—WRC is heading hybrid in 2022—they have been only permitted to operate in the untimed exhibition course. With BMX celebrity and X Games gold-medalist Jamie Bestwick driving the wheel, the workforce claims the automobile executed reliably, which designed for monotonous pit stops. After every single phase, nothing expected mending, it barely employed any gas, and only consumables these as tires and brake pads essential to be changed.

The work performed to produce the Prius Rally has reworked an otherwise boring appliance into a deeply entertaining practical experience. The workforce hopes to contend in far more races and include much more electrical power in the coming months. And when much more energy can’t come shortly enough, the Rally is fewer about what the vehicle is than what it could be. We’ll happily appear back for whatsoever it becomes.

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