Toyota’s Already Throwing Body Kits On The 2023 Prius Like It’s 2004 Or Something

Prius Modellista Topshot

The paint has barely dried on the 2023 Toyota Prius, but Toyota’s already gone to town with a set of appearance packages. Let’s run through them to see what the fun departments of Toyota have been cooking up.

Before we get into these Prius body kits, let’s start with a bit of background information on Modellista. A bit like how Mercedes has both Maybach and AMG, Toyota has its own range of in-house tuning companies. There’s Gazoo Racing which handles all the really quick stuff, TRD which plays in a roughly similar arena as Gazoo Racing, and Modellista, which makes things look a bit funkier. If you’re familiar with Autech’s current role in the Nissan ecosystem, Modellista will make sense. There are no real performance tweaks or even race-inspired visual changes here, just different style for the sake of different style.

Prius Neo Advance Style

Prius Modellista Neo Advance Style

First up, it’s the Prius Neo Advance Style, which seems like an appropriate name given that this Prius is new. The kit certainly advances the amount of things 3M-taped to the car, and it’s most definitely some form of style. It’s a bit garish overall, but there are some smart touches going on. The outer sections of the front lip rise above the grille trim extensions, sufficiently modifying the front fascia without going to the expense of molding a new bumper cover. In addition, giant LED accent lights on the outer edges of the front lip are a pretty good reason not to curb the bodywork, for lighting is generally more expensive than painted plastic. Mind you, I have a gut feeling that the blue lights in the grille aren’t entirely legal in most jurisdictions.

Elegant Ice Style

Prius Modellista Elegant Ice Style

Moving on to the next kit, it’s the Elegant Ice Style model. I know what you’re thinking: What the hell is Elegant Ice Style [Editor’s note: Pretty sure this is a rejected Stephen Malkmus lyric – MH]? As someone who spends several months of the year in a frozen wasteland and once owned something with Brougham badges, here’s exactly what it means. Modellista’s Elegant Ice Style is a healthy smattering of chrome on the nose and the arse of the new Prius. Think late-model Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe or Kenstyle’s kit for the Mazda CX-5, and you’re on the right track. It’s a more subdued visual package than the Neo Advance Style kit, with far less blue accenting and LED lighting. I’m generally a fan of this kit as it isn’t too loud and seems to take inspiration from streetwear like Chrome Hearts, although I could definitely do without the chrome by the headlights.

Prius Modellista Elegant Ice Style 2

Regardless of which kit you choose, a snazzy set of unique alloy wheels is included, finished in a dark shade with cut faces on the Neo Advance Style model and in a lighter tone on the Elegant Ice Style. Sadly, I wouldn’t count on these appearance packages being available outside of Japan anytime soon. While some parts counter punters may take Toyota up on these tweaks, there’s every chance they wouldn’t sell brilliantly in America.

Gazoo Racing Prius

However, this isn’t the last set of in-house tweaks Toyota will make to the new Prius. After all, the outgoing model had a GR Sport version consisting of appearance and suspension tweaks, and the new car’s performance makes it seem all the more deserving of such a treatment. Come on, a manufacturer-quoted zero-to-62 mph time of 6.7 seconds puts the new plug-in Prius in the same league as the screaming 2ZZ-powered Matrix XRS, that’s still plenty quick for a regular hatchback.

GR Parts

As it turns out, Gazoo Racing is one step ahead of things, releasing this image of two mildly altered Priuses. Granted, there isn’t much information out there on the GR bits for the new Prius, and using Google Translate on the Japanese TRD website has proven equally unhelpful.

Pursuit of a functional beauty that can be manipulated at will. Styling that pursues a direct steering feel that allows the driver to control both city driving and winding roads at will.

Thank you, Google. Very cool. In any case, let’s run down what we can see from this press photo. A new multi-piece front lip appears reminiscent of the facelifted 86, while the hatch features a little spoiler with what appear to be a Gurney flap situation. In addition, a set of rain visors should let the driver puff on a Marlboro without getting wet. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if some chassis bits are also bundled in, given the talk of steering feel and whatnot. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see what this package actually entails.

While tweaking a Prius may seem a bit corny, the Prius owns, and has actually owned for a while now. The outgoing Prius Prime had reasonable acceleration, good electric range, beautiful rotation under trail-braking

[Editor’s note:

– MH] and a bombastic if not exactly balanced JBL stereo. I’m convinced it would be a riot with stickier tires, camber plates, uprated brake pads and high temperature brake fluid. The new plug-in Prius variant promises to be even quicker while still riding on the stiff TNGA-C architecture. I’m glad Toyota’s doing some fun stuff with the car already, and I can’t wait to see how much further the aftermarket goes.

All photos courtesy of Toyota, GIF via GIPHY

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20 Responses

    1. I don’t know if this take is that hot.

      Current Prius is quite ugly because of stupid angles and edges where they’re not needed or expected. (No hate to Toyota for that, seems like the general trend for the last few years. Look at the last Civic. Nobody over the age of 25 could climb into that thing without looking like a tool.)

  1. This feels a lot like Toyota saying “No, this isn’t an accident… we are serious about this Prius, and here’s how serious we are.”
    I don’t know if many folks watched the actual Prius introduction video, but the gent presenting started off talking about how the design team spent time considering whether they should focus on making the new Prius even more of a commodity, or whether they should focus on making it a car people can love… and love won out – and I wish more companies would think about it this way. If the first reaction to a car isn’t “I like that, I want to own one” then you’re doing it wrong, imo.

  2. Give us a full GR Prius you cowards. Forget all this appearance package nonsense…give it more power, a more rigid chassis, and some sort of push to pass feature that allows you to dump all the EV power for 20 seconds for instant torque and roasted tires.

    Drop that 0-60 time by a second and a half, give it some more edge, and it’ll be a cool and wildly unique offering. As someone who has to sit in backbreaking, fuel chugging traffic all the time I think a performance hybrid is very appealing.

  3. Does this mean it’s on the way out?

    I distinctly recall when the Celica got ready to bow out, Toyota offered a factory body + spoiler kit that took a beautiful design (seriously, the last gen Celica looked like a mini endurance racer) and completely Vin Dieseled it.

    1. it’s only just been released?
      Toyota regularly kits out their cars in Japan, this isn’t something they only do when retiring a model.

      it might be because other markets don’t normally see these things late in the models life, but in Japan they do this all the time.

  4. This is interesting to me, because it signifies that this new Prius is also a core JDM product like the Venza (Harrier) or the Crown Cross. It seems like generally speaking the JDM-derived Toyotas occupy a near-Lexus niche in the lineup against their more ordinary US-designed cars like the Highlander or Tacoma. That said, the Corolla, Camry, and RAV4 are also sold globally and no more special for it, so that theory might not hold.

  5. Is there ANY chance any of these kits could have a net gain in efficiency by decreasing the amount of air under the car, or are these really just adding drag and a bit of weight for the sake of appearance?

    I ask because my gut says most Prius buyers probably prioritize efficiency and would be most inclined to purchase mods that support that endeavor, rather than work against it.

    However, I’d love to be able to see statistics on the number of people that are on the fence, almost willing to buy a Prius if only it looked a tiny bit more aggressive. Maybe the existence of things like this will result in a few additional car sales.

    1. My main complaint is the grille. Either that grille is too large for the amount of cooling needed, or a large portion of it is fake, which in either case adds unnecessary drag.

      Then there’s the rear end. If they made the rear track a bit more narrow and had the rear less flared and more tapered, with the addition or rear wheel skirts, they could likely see significant drag reduction from that as well. But the aerodynamicists who did the work would be privy to details that I am not.

  6. I think Toyota sees the writing on the wall regarding gasoline availability and/or cost in the near-term future. Making a fuel efficient and relatively low-drag car sexy will put it ahead of the competition when the inevitable spike in sales and demand for this sort of car manifests.

    The body kits will serve those who either want downforce for an enthusiast/tuner application, or those who want their car to stand out, damned be the price paid to efficiency. Depending upon the wind tunnel results, it may even improve the drag, sort of like the Infiniti G35 with the aero package.

    I like the look of the current design much more than the previous iterations. It’s cleaner, more simple, honest, with less bullshit. All of the over-stylization of the currently available 2022 Prius has very likely cost it dearly in extra drag(even though it is still one of the slipperiest cars available). Drag coefficient of 0.24, when according to “Aerodynamics of Road Vehicles” by Wolf-Heinrich Hucho, a 0.15 Cd figure is very possible for a practical sedan, and this conclusion was made 40 years ago. And to get that 0.24, the current gen Prius resorts to tricks like automatic grille shutters, which adds cost/complexity and really wouldn’t be necessary if the car had less focus on stylization/brand identity and more focus on having an inherently slippery shape to start with.

    I eagerly await to see what the next gen Prius’ drag coefficient is. I don’t expect it will be significantly less than that of the current gen of Prius, as Toyota has been giving slow, incremental improvements with each successive model versus something drastic, but it would be nice if they just decided to shitcan planned obsolescence and give us the slipperiest bastard they could. Their car would be all the more improved because of it, looks be damned. They should be targeting the mid 0.1X range and do everything needed to get it, before resorting to adding complicated tricks like active grilles and adjustable ride height. THAT will do more to improve efficiency than anything else, and the car could be geared for an insane top speed with that given its increase in power over the previous generation.

    1. Drag doesn’t matter in city driving. I suspect most of these will go to city dwellers or inner-ring suburb commuters who will spend their ‘highway’ drive time during rush hours with limited speeds.

      They then have to park in the city, where extra overhangs for aero advantage become a very large liability and would be constructed mainly of duct-tape patches after the first month of parking in town.

      1. Drag still matters in city driving, just not as much as it does in highway driving. Even at 30 mph, most of the vehicle’s road loading will be wind resistance. In the overall picture, mass is more important to economy in city driving with all of its stop and go, but aero drag still has a significant impact.

        1. My wife’s last in-town commute was 6 miles. It took 30 minutes on the best day, usually 40 minutes. I don’t think aero would have helped. If we were even able to get up to 30mph with any regularity we may not have moved away. That’s not even close to the heart of the city.

          Commutes like that are not that uncommon around here, and I suspect it’s the same for much of the northeast or major metro area anywhere else in the US.

    2. “0.15 Cd figure is very possible for a practical sedan.”

      Get out of here with that hogwash. The 2013 VW XL1 had a cd of 0.19, as did the GM EV-1
      Look at them.

      That’s the LOWEST any production car has ever archived.
      The Tesla manages just over .2

      Possible? Maybe. You’re talking about a 25 percent reduction in drag over the best EVER archived in a road car.

      1. If you could call the XL1 and EV1 “production cars”. They are more slippery than anything we can buy today, but not by much. Both were extremely low production volume(and in the case of the EV1, taken back and crushed), which is why they cost so much.

        Here are other real-world examples of what is actually possible for a mix of sedans and sports cars:

        2020 GAC ENO 146, scored a 0.146 Cd
        2000 GM Precept, 0.16 Cd
        1985 Ford Probe V, 0.137 Cd
        1967 Panhard CD Peugeot 66C, 0.13 Cd (this car was raced at LeMans)
        1954 Fiat Turbina, 0.14 Cd

        None of this is new knowledge. Automakers always try to emphasize a certain styling or brand identity even in their most streamlined offerings that make it to market in any form, and that costs in the form of added drag. Eschewing that is what is needed to get the ultra low Cd values.

        Lots of purpose-built solar cars go even lower. 0.11 is possible at the very low end. See the 4-seater Stella prototype for what that might look like in practical sedan form.

        I own a Milan SL velomobile that I use on a nearly daily basis that has a 0.08 Cd, but to do that, it only has 3 inches of ground clearance. That could probably be scaled up in size into a small sports car in the low 0.1X range if the ground clearance is increased to 6 inches and room for a second seat is added. Most of its drag is from the little bit of wheel/tire exposed.

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