The way that we view hybrid cars has been transformed in recent years. There was a time when they were seen as the sole preserve of the eco-conscious, but a new breed of cars that mixes battery power with a traditional internal combustion engine to deliver a sporty drive has changed that view.
Many of the qualities of the electric motor are very desirable in performance cars – we’re talking about instant torque and a sharp throttle response. As a result, some of the most exotic supercar manufacturers have used hybrid technology to stunning effect.
So who makes the fastest hybrid? We’ve rounded up the ten most potent on sale today, ranked by their 0-62mph times.
10 – Porsche Cayenne
As with many modern hybrids, the Porsche Cayenne is able to be charged via a mains socket. It’s an ideal choice if you have a fairly short commute – the 22 mile electric-only range allows most short trips to be covered on electric power alone, minimising trips to the service station. This is still a Porsche, however, so buyers still expect some exciting performance.
And they’ll get it, too. The electric motor is paired with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 driven through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. With 410hp and 435lb ft of torque available, the Cayenne will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. Not bad for a two tonne-plus SUV…
9 – BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid
Up to three miles can be covered solely on electric power, allowing near silent driving for short periods at speeds up to 45mph. The efficiency of the hybrid system is maximised thanks to BMW’s Intelligent Energy Management system. Working in conjunction with the satellite navigation, it reads the road ahead to decide which drive mode is the most suitable to maximise economy.
8 – Lexus GS 450h
Lexus’ alternative to the BMW 5 Series returns an identical 5.9-second 0-62mph time in hybrid form. As with the BMW, the GS 450h makes use of a six cylinder petrol engine to give the hybrid drive its oomph.
When your right foot isn’t mashed into the bulkhead to match those performance figures, the GS offers class leading refinement, with the transition from electric to fossil fuel power almost seamless. The interior is gorgeous, too, and built to a standard easily a match for the finest German offerings.
7 – Porsche Panamera Hybrid
Porsche’s four-door coupe is the German marque’s alternative to the Aston Martin Rapide. However, the Aston’s 6.0-litre V12 can’t come close to the efficiency of the Panamera‘s set up, yet the hybrid Porsche is almost as fast in a straight line.
Sharing its powertrain with the Cayenne further up this list, the lighter Panamera (a relative term – it still weighs just over two tonnes) is a few tenths of a second quicker than the SUV to 62mph, and the lower mass makes it more frugal, too.
6 – Infiniti Q50 Hybrid
There are no obvious signs from the outside as to the performance the Infiniti Q50 hybrid has to offer, but don’t let that fool you…
Under the bonnet, a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine combines with an electric motor to deliver 359hp, which helps the Q50 along to a 5.1 second 0-62mph time. That performance can be appreciated all the more thanks to a comfy, gadget-laden cabin, too. There are few more subtle ways to go this fast.
5 – BMW i8
Arguably one of the most stunning looking cars on the road, the BMW i8 has proven that eco cars don’t have to be either weird or boring to look at. It also proves that they can be exciting to drive, too.
A 129hp electric motor teams up with the characterful 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine found in a Mini Cooper S for a combined output of 367hp and 420lb ft. Thanks to the extensive use of advanced carbon fibre in its construction, weight is kept down to just 1,485kg, helping the i8 to deliver performance not far shy of the firm’s M3 super saloon.
4 – Honda NSX
While it isn’t quite with us yet, the Honda NSX already looks set to be one of the most exciting hybrids yet.
A turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 engine is supplemented by three electric motors – two sending power to the front wheels and one helping the petrol motor at the back. All four power sources together are set to promise somewhere between 550 and 600hp. An aluminium and lightweight steel construction should trim the overall weight, resulting in a 0-62mph time well below four seconds.
That straight line performance will be kept in check thanks to hugely advanced active aerodynamics, carbon brakes and torque vectoring systems to maximise cornering grip. We can’t wait to see how it drives.
3 – Ferrari LaFerrari
2014 was an exceptionally good year for hybrids, with the release of three of the most spectacular hypercars to have ever existed. Ferrari produced one of these three challengers. The LaFerrari combines a 6.3-litre V12 – which on its own produces a truly spectacular 790hp – with electric motors to produce a faintly barmy 950hp. Ferrari quotes the 0-62mph time at “less than three seconds” and a top speed “above 217mph”.
It looks as dramatic as you could hope, it sounds truly glorious, and goes like nothing else on four wheels. Well all but two others, anyway…
2 – McLaren P1
That’s because McLaren wanted a piece of the hypercar action, too. Unlike the Ferrari, the McLaren’s petrol engine relies on two turbochargers to bump power output from the 3.8-litre V8 to 727hp. Electric motors push that up to 903hp and 719lb ft of torque.
It isn’t just the 2.8-second 0-62mph time that stuns testers, nor the staggering 600kg of downforce that it produces at 160mph forcing it against the road around corners. It’s the fact that despite the epic performance, it’s just as easy to drive as a sports car with half the power: the engine is “docile” at low speeds, visibility is excellent, and it rides more smoothly than the average hot hatchback. A truly stunning achievement.
1 – Porsche 918 Spyder
The third of the hyper-hybrid trio, the gorgeous Porsche 918 Spyder draws on a greater Wattage than either of its rival to boost the performance of its internal combustion engine. Without any help from the 4.6-litre V8, the 918 will crack 62mph in a silent 6.6 seconds, and cover up to 18 miles.
The extra batteries required to achieve that impressive feat contribute to a kerb weight that’s more than 200 kilos heftier than the McLaren P1’s. Despite this apparent disadvantage, the Porsche has both the Ferrari and the McLaren covered from a standing start. Thanks to a combination of four wheel drive and a whopping 944lb ft of torque, the 918 will hit 62mph from rest in only 2.6 seconds.
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