Hybrids are boring – that’s the consensus. However, the technology has remained something of an enigma, with many manufacturers aiming to maintain a relatively low carbon footprint, while a handful of others look to break speed records.
But, with brands such as Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren jumping onto the bandwagon, it’s safe to say that the future of hybrid motoring is bright… and fast.
This week, we take a look at the top five hybrid cars that keep intact the thrill factor, while throwing shade at its fossil-fuel munching rivals.
This is the future of supercars – the Ferrari LaFerrari is the epitome of modern-day motoring, bringing together the best of both worlds: speed and efficiency. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘efficiency’. Here, it means utilising the available power and torque – all 950hp and 900Nms of it – without any wastage. How it achieves this is by mating what is essentially a dinosaur of a 6.3-litre V12 engine with a mild-hybrid HY-KERS system – which is essentially a 161hp electric motor that provides bursts of power when required. The results, as expected are staggering, with the LaFerrari topping off as the fastest road-legal Ferrari ever made. The folk at Lamborghini and Pagani, as cool as they are, can only look at Ferrari in awe.
Engine and motor: 6.3-litre V12 + HY-KERS Electric motor
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Lexus LC 500h
Unlike the Ferrari, Lexus’ LC 500h isn’t designed to break records at the Nurburgring. But, it’s fast. Very fast. Essentially classifying itself as a super-GT coupe, the LC500h is quite the looker – outdoing most of its rivals from Europe and Asia. In the hybrid form factor, the LC merges a 3.5-litre V6 engine with a ‘Multistage Hybrid Drive’ system to produce a respectable 354 horses and 348Nms of torque. This should help propel the car to 100kph in a mere 4.7 seconds, which makes it nippier than its 5.0-litre V8 sibling. That’s not all, either: the interior is crafted to the highest standards, and we must say, the LC is quite relaxing on long journeys.
Engine and motor: 3.5-litre V6 + Atkinson cycle motor
Transmission: Four-speed automatic + CVT
Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
A four-door saloon with a liftgate, the Porsche Panamera is anything but conventional. While regular variants do enjoy a great deal of the petrol and diesel treatments, the new 4 E-Hybrid couples a 2.9-litre V6 with an electric motor producing 462hp, but well over 700Nms of torque. The results are staggering, with performance levels rivalling that of the V8 ‘4S’ variant. Couple that with the fact that the Porsche will handle and accelerate like a sports car and you’re left with the bargain of the decade. Oh, bear in mind that if you’re willing to stretch your wallet, there’s a range-topping 690hp hybrid variant too.
Engine and motor: 2.9-litre turbo V6 + electric motor
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Volkswagen Golf GTE
This one’s a bit tricky to rate since it isn’t officially sold here in Oman – yet a few of them have trickled down to the roads via the import market. What makes the GTE special is the fact that it doesn’t pretend to imitate the iconic Golf GTi that it’s originally based on. Instead, it goes about town doing its job of being efficient, saving petrol, and reducing the brand’s carbon footprint (about time!). However, when the going gets tough, the GTE will step in to hit some serious speeds. With its combined output power figure of 201hp, the hatchback should hit the 100kph mark in about 7.6 seconds. That’s not too shabby for a car that’ll do 70kms per litre of fuel. If you dig around deep enough, you should be able to buy one here. Otherwise, your best bet would be to import one in left hand drive.
Engine and motor: 1.4-litre turbo in-line four-cylinder + electric motor
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic
Volvo XC90 Plug-In Hybrid
There’s something oddly satisfying about driving around in a two-and-a-half tonne SUV knowing full well that you’re pulling better mileage figures than a sedan from Europe, Asia, or America. But, it’s not just the XC90’s fuel consumption figures that are impressive; the SUV rides around town with 400 horses crammed into the hood, and also has an electric system for when you’re driving around within the city. This means the XC90 Plug-In Hybrid not only fits the bill as a sporty SUV (not in a million years did we think we’d say that) but also as a fuel-sipping, environmentally-friendly Swedish car. While none of what we say means that the SUV is track-ready, it does perform really well on highways and can pull away effortlessly in traffic. Also, Volvo’s air suspension makes for a very comfortable ride, which should dial down any road imperfections while cruising around town at high speeds.
Engine and motor: 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged in-line four-cylinder + electric motor
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic