Driv­e­Times Five

Five se­ri­ously fast hy­brids

Sunday Star-Times - - Driv­e­times -

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.

BMW i8

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.

Honda NSX

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.

McLaren P1

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?

Porsche 918

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.

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