Top 7 Hybrid and Electric Cars

The fossil fuel era is slowly coming to an end. Although we might not see mainstream full electric or hybrid vehicles crowding the streets of Bangalore and Delhi for a few more decades, mass production manufacturers as well as boutique car makers are now exploring the possibilities offered by hybrid and electric mechanics. While most high end electric and hybrid vehicles are still well beyond the reach of the majority population, the following cars will serve as a preview to what’s in store for the rest of the world in a few decades:

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive:

One of the very first high performance fully electric sports cars from a major name in the auto industry, the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive employs a four motor system that produces a combined total output of a whopping 740 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Despite its electric roots, the gargantuan power figures puts the SLS AMG Electric Drive right at the top as the German car maker’s most powerful two door coupe ever made. Sadly however, the total claimed range of German electric sportscar is a mere 155 miles (250 km) and most cars do not offer the exact same range as stated.

Mercedes Benz SLS Amg ED
The Mercedes Benz SLS Amg Electric Drive

BMW i8:

The BMW i8 was heralded as a technological milestone and has gained international critical acclaim since its debut. Initially premiering as a concept in the form of the BMW Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics, the i8 hybrid retains the majority of its prototypes’ pantomime exterior while working in legal requirements such as rear view mirrors, appropriate ride height and mass production spec wheels.

front view BMW i8
The BMW i8

Powering the hybrid Bimmer is a tiny 1.5 l turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine that works in tandem with a pair of electric motors that produce a combined total of 357 hp with a peak torque figure of 420 lb-ft. The i8 makes use of two transmission systems. While on only electric mode, a two speed transmission is available and on hybrid mode, the six speed automatic with manual shifting comes into play.

Tesla Model S (P85D):

The Tesla Model S is another milestone in the automotive community. One of the first electric sedans to combine the practicality of a full size sedan with the performance of a AAA sports car, the Model S is easily the best all rounder on this list. The American car’s large multi-function touschreen infotainment system eliminates the clutter on the dashboard commonly associated with high end cars. As a result, the four plus one seater sedan gives rise to a cabin that is both airy, spacious and high tech.

The Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S

Porsche 918 Spyder:

The Porsche 918 Spyder was part of the holy hybrid trinity that was launched last year. Although the 918 may be low on power when compared to its McLaren and Ferrari counterpart, the Porsche is the most well equipped of the lot. The 918 is also the only model in the hypercar trio that is a cabriolet as well. The 918 Spyder also features four wheel drive and four wheel steering providing better control for the less experienced.

The Porsche 918 Spyder
The Porsche 918 Spyder

McLaren P1:

The McLaren P1 is the long awaited successor to the legendary F1 supercar. Thus he P1 does for this decade what the F1 did for the 1990’s: redefine speed. Powering the hybrid supercar is a tiny 3.8 l twin turbocharged petrol engine that produces a not so tiny 727 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a 176 hp electric motor for a combined total of 903 hp. Similar to the Porsche 918, the McLaren P1 can also operate solely on electric power alone.

The McLaren P1 in Bahrain
The McLaren P1 in Bahrain

LaFerrari:

Revered by the automotive community as the pinnacle of mechanical and electrical engineering, the LaFerrari is the most powerful mass production supercar from Maranello ever made. The LaFerrari is to the Enzo what the McLaren P1 is to the F1, the official successor as the brand’s flagship product. With a name that literally translates to “The Ferrari”, the Italian car maker has endowed its most powerful machine with a moniker that conjures up an image of the last spartan, the Omega. With the launch of the 488 GTB, a turbocharged successor of the 458 Italia, Ferrari is now slowly but definitely moving with the times and the LaFerrari may well be the final naturally aspirated V12 from the manufacturer’s stable.

"Stylish and powerful"
LaFerrari, Ferrari’s magnum opus

Koenigsegg Regera:

Koenigsegg is a little known manufacturer outside the automotive community. Despite being in the industry for several years now, the bouteique hypercar maker is yet to garner mainstream fame partly due to the reserved nature of its founder and the rather confusing Swedish name.

Koenigsegg_Regera_fronttwist

The automaker’s cars however are far from reserved and its latest creation, the Regera is a hybrid plug in that completely obliterated the holy trinity in terms of sheer power alone by producing a tantalizing 1500 hp with an all new special one speed transmission system.

Face Off: Tesla Model S vs Cadillac ELR

One cannot have a conversation about the future of cars without talking about Tesla and one cannot discuss the history of cars without mentioning Cadillac. In this decade, the two motor companies produce cars that battle it out in the same price brackets in the United States of America. We take a look at what makes the better car: the past or the future?

Exterior

Tesla Model S:

Design-wise, the Tesla Model S is one of the most underrated cars of the 2010’s. Its sleek, uncluttered profile is often missed in the vast swathes of loud, tempestuous designs of current petrol driven sports coupes and luxury cars. The Model S’ subtlety is a welcome breath of fresh air in a cloudy atmosphere of brashness.

Tesla Model S P85D
The Tesla Model S is an elegant, understated super sedan

The smooth curves that define the sedan perfectly integrates the front grille along with the brand’s insignia up front with the gently swooping roof ending in an almost inconspicuous boot-lip spoiler. Unlike electric cars from conventional manufacturers such as Fiat, VW, Mercedes Benz and Audi, the Model S has been designed from the ground up to be an electric car. As such, the four door sedan’s body has been developed to make optimal use of its electric motors to reduce load on the batteries.

Cadillac ELR:

The Cadillac ELR is almost the anti-Model S. While the Tesla sedan plays with themes of minimalism, the very first hybrid Caddy is all muscle and drama through and through. The hybrid Cadillac’s large vertically stacked headlights and even larger grille endows it with a road presence rivaled only by supercars.

The Cadillac ELR is a sumptuous blend of muscle and luxury unseen in this segment
The Cadillac ELR is a sumptuous blend of muscle and luxury unseen in this segment

The rear end of the hybrid Cadillac is far more restrained and complements the raucous front end rather well. Unlike most sedans, the Cadillac ELR sports its reverse parking light as a separate unit found in the center on the lower half of the bumper. The boot-lip spoiler features a secondary brake light that runs along the width of the car further enhancing its road presence.

Winner: Cadillac ELR

Interior

Tesla Model S:

Tesla’s minimalist approach continues on the inside as well. Save for the sterring mounted controls and hazard indicator button, the Model S features no buttons whatsoever. The dashboard features a single large portrait oriented tablet as the main (and only) control panel for the electric sedan’s various features such as air conditioning, driving modes, GPS navigation and even the car manual.

The Model S' interior is very minimal
The Model S’ interior is very minimal

The rest of the cabin is a sleek combination of woodwork, leather and aluminum that provides a sense of luxury without invading the personal space of its occupants. The spacious rear seats even provide a 2+1 seating arrangement aiding in the Model S’ practicality. Similar to high end Bimmers, the touchscreen infotainment system is slightly aligned to the driver’s side producing a more driver centric cabin.

Cadillac ELR:

The Cadillac ELR’s interior is a seductive blend of wood, leather, aluminum and gloss. The dizzying array of buttons, knobs and switches is a far cry from the completely bare Tesla Model S. While the Tesla Model S focuses more on themes of luxury and comfort, the all black interior and aluminium and faux carbon fibre panels of the Cadillac ELR attempts to be a sportier looking model.

Themes of luxury and sportiness continue inside the cabin as well
Themes of luxury and sportiness continue inside the cabin as well

Unlike the Model S’ four plus five seating, the center console of the ELR runs straight through the middle providing a limousine style travel experience for rear passengers.

Winner: Cadillac ELR

Under the Hood

Tesla Model S:

Here is where the Tesla Model S really comes into its own. The Model S provides unimaginable performance figures for an electric car and rivals that of supercars. Powering the range topping variant is a pair of engines each residing on either end of the car. With a combined total power output of an astounding 691 hp, the Model S holds a zero to hundred time a mere 3.2 seconds. Power is sent to all four wheels via a one speed transmission.

Cadillac ELR:

This is where the Cadillac loses to the Model S. While the Tesla produces numbers that give even current generation supercars a run for their money, the ELR is basically a reskinned front wheel drive Chevy Volt. As such, the hybrid drivetrain produces a meek 217 hp and a peak torque figure of 295 lb-ft. 

Under the Cadillac's bonnet
Under the Cadillac’s bonnet

Winner: Tesla Model S

Verdict

Despite the Tesla Model S losing out in terms of sheer visual spectacle, the power driving the wheels, four wheel drive system and the wide range of variants to choose from puts the electric sports sedan right on top and serves as a benchmark that other manufacturers should follow while developing EVs of their own.