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Prius performance package an exercise in irony?

Toyota announces the Plus Performance package for the Prius, adding ground effects, custom wheels, and lowering springs to the iconic hybrid.

Prius Plus Performance package
The Plus Performance package adds a body kit and lowering springs to the Prius. Toyota

The idea of a pimped Prius isn't new, as any visitor to SEMA can attest, but now Toyota is offering a limited number of Plus Performance packages from the factory for the iconic hybrid. If the pedestrian nature of the standard Prius has been keeping you from its 50 mpg fuel economy, maybe a body kit and low-profile tires will make this car palatable.

We read with glee that the Plus Performance package will add contoured ground effects along the lower edges of the car. When Toyota's press release mentioned "race-inspired 17-inch forged alloy wheels," we thought, OK, lighter wheels could add something to a hybrid. But noting the low-profile tires restored the sense that this package would be something like adding a wing to a Yaris.

C&A Prius concept
The C&A Prius concept shows what a performance package should look like. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The inclusion of a set of lowering springs, dropping the Prius' ride height 1.1 inches in the front and 1.3 inches in the rear, had us snickering uncontrollably, causing odd looks from officemates. The package is completed with a rear sway bar.

Toyota did not take the Plus Performance package quite as far as the C&A Concept from last year's SEMA show, which is a shame. The Plus Performance package unveiled by Toyota keeps its irony too subtle for an American audience.

Then again, we should welcome anything that improves the Prius' handling.

For those who find the idea of flames painted on a Prius hilarious, Toyota is offering the Plus Performance package for $3,699 on the Prius Two, Three, and Four models, and $2,999 on the Prius Five.