Five seriously fast hybrids
Hybrids don’t always have the best image; worthy enough fuel-savers that are largely uninteresting to drive. But there are some that buck the trend; performance hybrids, that is. Cars that don’t just use recovered energy to save fuel, but also use it to go even faster. We like those kind of hybrids, so today we take a look at five of the fastest.
Along with the i3, the stunning i8 sports car was the first product to emerge from the Project-i programme that created the BMW i sub-brand. Unlike the other cars on this list, the i8 isn’t powered by a powerful six, eight or 12-cylinder engine, but rather the characterful and frugal 1.5-litre threecylinder engine from the Mini Cooper!
In the i8 it is slightly more powerful, with 170kW of power and 320Nm coming from the petrol engine alone. Add this to the 96kW and 250Nm produced by the electric motor and you have a hybrid that will hit 100kmh in 4.4 seconds. The i8 will also run as a pure EV, with a limited top speed of 120kmh, but will happily hit its 250kmh top speed in hybrid mode.
It has taken so long to finally appear (albeit not actually in New Zealand yet) it is probably appropriate that the second-generation NSX is a fairly advanced car.
Packing a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 that produces 373kW of power, the NSX is fairly grunty. But wait, there’s more, as the V6 is hooked up to three electric motors (one between the engine and nine-speed dual-clutch transmission, and one for each front wheel) for a total power output of 427kW. Honda claims the NSX will scamper to 100kmh from a standing start in just 2.9 seconds.
The P1 was McLaren’s first foray back into making brain-meltingly fast hypercars; it helped invent the category back in 1992 with the magnificent McLaren F1. But the P1 embraced hybrid technology to melt those brains.
The P1 featured the company’s 542kW/720Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, hooked up to a single electric motor that bumped the power up to 673kW and the torque to a truly epic 908Nm. The P1 was capable of being driven on battery power alone, albeit with a fairly modest range (between 10-20km depending on which country’s testing drive cycle you want to believe), but all that really matters is that it could hit 100kmh from a standing start in just 2.6 seconds.
Ferrari La Ferrari
Ferrari built the mighty La Ferrari using the results of the FXX programme and it is the first (and so far only) ‘‘mild hybrid’’ from the Italian supercar manufacturer.
Packing a mighty 6.3-litre V12 that produces 588kW of power and 700Nm of torque on its own, the power is upped to a deeply impressive 708kW and 900Nm by the kinetic energy recovery system that constantly supplies the recovered power directly to the powertrain. While the efficiency gains are, at best, modest, the La Ferrari will rocket to 100kmh in 2.4 seconds. So who cares about saving fuel when you’re doing that?
You know a car is going to be fairly serious about performance when it is built on the architecture of a Le Mans racer. And the Porsche 918 Spyder, built on the platform of the RS Spyder ALMS LMP2 car, proved to be pretty serious.
The 918 also shared the RS Spyder’s 4.6-litre V8, but also added two electric motors (one on each axle) to bump the engine’s 447kW and 528Nm up to a thoroughly brutal 652kW of power and 1280Nm of torque. Porsche claimed the 918 Spyder would blitzkrieg its way to 100kmh in just 2.5 seconds, but independent tests saw 2.2 seconds.