Not very long ago, the word “hybrid” sparked the thought of a Toyota Prius or a radically sluggish competitor that would get almost 50 miles to the gallon. Little thought was given to performance or style. All that mattered was fuel efficiency. No one ever imagined this technology could be incorporated into supercars. Few realized what hybrid or fully electric vehicle technology could accomplish in the field of performance. Now, 17 years after the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, we find that these underdeveloped creatures of the past have evolved into something beautiful to behold. Arriving on the scene a mere three years ago, they’re at the apex of performance driving, standing second to none. These vehicles truly are the pinnacle of automotive engineering and demonstrate the unbridled potential of electric supercars, flaunting their feathers on both the street and the track. With cars like these arriving so shortly after this technology was introduced, the future may hold something much more profound when performance and stylistic perfection are met.
PORSCHE 918 SPYDER
Porsche has always produced stunningly elegant and powerful sports cars. However, the 918 Spyder is so much more. The 918 comes with a naturally aspirated 4.6 liter V8, providing 608 horsepower to the rear wheels, accompanied by an additional rear-wheel powering electric motor. What makes this genius of a car stand out from its competition is the front mounted electric motor, which ultimately makes the 918 an all-wheel drive vehicle. With the precision this Porsche provides, it’s no wonder why it has been deemed the surgeon’s scalpel of cars. Its total power, while in the most aggressive setting, is 887 horsepower. It has a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) and comes with all the interior amenities, unlike some of its competitors. It comes with power seats, internal computers, settings as brilliant as a rocket scientist, and a complete twelve speaker sound system; so you can blast your favorite song while you race down the track at 210mph.
While driving on the track, the 918 doesn’t quite feel like it’s as aggressive as the numbers would lead you to believe. However, for a plug in electric vehicle that sprints to 60mph in 2.2 seconds, for only $847,975, it gives “hybrid” a good name.
The McLaren P1
The McLaren P1 is an aggressive, powerful, and impulsive monster that truly requires a professional touch to tame. In other words, whereas the Porsche is a proper show horse – elegant and clean – the McLaren is a wild Clydesdale – powerful and intimidating.
At the heart of the McLaren, lies a 3.8 liter V8, force fed by two massive turbochargers that push 20.3 lbs of boost allowing that small 3.8 liter engine to contribute a wheel spinning 727 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque, strictly to the rear wheels. Including the electric motor the P1 stands tall, at a total of 903 net horsepower and 663 net lb-ft of torque.
The suspension is entirely active and intelligent – adjusting ride height, wing height, suspension dampening and more – at every speed and condition you’re driving through at that moment. All of these smart and adjustable features of the P1 make it an all-around thrilling ride and with such extensive and aggressive down force, and such a light body, it has no problem gripping the asphalt. At $1.15 million it may not be the fastest supercar on the track, but is more than enough to make a full grown man cry for joy.
The Acura NSX
The Acura NSX is not a vehicle to be taken lightly. The first model NSX was groundbreaking and one of the most simple, elegant, and powerful supercars of its class. Not to mention it was Japan’s first supercar to have ever been manufactured. The iconic NSX sent most Italian brands back to the drawing board to figure out how to be as reliable, and efficient, therefore changing the world of supercars. Again, Honda has made something that resembles nothing on the market today.
The new 3.5 liter V6 produces 500 horsepower and 406lb-ft of torque. Additionally, the NSX comes with three electric motors, one crammed in the engine, which is primarily used to trick the turbochargers into producing maximum boost, where there would otherwise be turbo lag. This motor is nothing impressive, but it changes the very nature of how the traditional motor feels, giving the car a perfectly linear throttle body response.
With all this technology, Honda has added hundreds of pounds, making it weigh almost 4,000 lbs. This 573 horsepower bullet of a car has an aggressive 9-speed DCT. Its top speed is 191mph, and, unlike the other hybrid cars of its class, this one only costs a small fortune: $156,000, so start saving your pennies.
The Tesla P90D
Tesla has unveiled yet another new species of electric car, something that blows through the barriers of its predecessor. The P90D squeezes out just a little bit more, pushing 762hp and 713lb-ft of torque. However, that little difference gives the new P90D an all-new 2.8-second 0-60 time – making it just a fraction of a second slower than the Porsche 918. But it’s also a behemoth of a vehicle, weighing 4,936 lbs.
So why would you buy any of these cars over the Tesla? Well, unfortunately, there’s really no reason to. This Tesla is faster than most of the cars on this list, but also doesn’t lose any of its luxury features. All of the other cars available in its class can only seat two people while the Model S can seat five and an additional two children, ultimately seating seven people. It also comes with countless features that all the others don’t. And the the most significant point is that it’s only $109,200. The comma is not misplaced there, and there is no missing zero. It just simply doesn’t have a place in a standard supercar scale. It breaks the balance of performance and luxury. Even though the P90D is a fully electric vehicle, we still found it otherworldly.