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High Performance Hybrids: Green and Mean



High-performance hybrid cars have been something of a rarity in the automotive industry, at least until recently. Staples of green motoring like the Toyota Prius and the Ford Fusion hybrid have typically focused more on fuel efficiency than on power. Muscle cars such as the Chevy Corvette and the Porsche 911 have been mostly about brute power and noticeably less so about gas consumption.

But an emerging generation of EVs that combine hybrid-like fuel efficiency with sports car performance could soon change the way consumers look at hybrids. These cars run the gamut from sensible hatchbacks to powerful high-end super cars and should appeal to eco-conscious consumers with a hankering for speed.

Of the several options in the market right now, here are three vehicles that best optimize the new hybrid:

The Honda CR-Z

Honda CR-Z
Photo by Hatsukari715 via Wikimedia Commons

The Honda CR-Z two-seater sports coupe is a throwback to Honda’s popular CRX hatchback of the late 1980s. If offers those on a budget a respectable mix of eco-friendly fuel consumption and modest sports car performance. It features a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine, a nickel-metal cadmium battery-based electric motor and a six-speed manual transmission to deliver about 137 horsepower and 140 pound feet of torque. The variable valve timing system on the gas engine in the 2013 edition of the CR-Z has been modified to squeeze more power compared to previous models while changes to the electric motor have resulted in more horsepower. The manual transmission version of the car has a rated combined fuel economy of 34 miles per gallon while the automatic transmission delivers 37 mpg. The 2013 Honda CR-Z can go from 0 to 60 in nine seconds and has a top speed of 124 miles per hour. While those numbers hardly make the Honda CR-Z a muscle car, at $19,995 it still is considered by many to be the best hybrid sports coupe on the market.

The BMW ActiveHybrid 3

BMW ActiveHybrid 3
Photo by Luc106 via Wikimedia Commons

The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 sedan is a gas-electric vehicle that delivers considerable performance and fuel-economy for those who do not mind spending north of $50,000 to get it. The car packs a six-cylinder, 3.0-liter gas engine coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission system. Complementing the gas engine is an electric motor powered by a 1.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The electric motor in the ActiveHybrid 3 provides supplementary driving power to the gas engine. It helps the car deliver a brawny 335 horsepower and 333 pound feet of torque at a very respectable 25 miles per gallon in city driving conditions and 33 miles per gallon on the highway. People with a hankering for fast hybrids will likely be pleased with the ActiveHybrid 3. It goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.0 second flat and has a top speed of 155 miles per hour, which for a hybrid is pretty fast.

The 2014 Porsche Panamera SE Hybrid

Porsche Panamera Hybrid
Photo by Noebu via Wikimedia Commons

The Porsche Panamera SE Hybrid is hard to beat for those eco-conscious people who like their hybrids to be high-performance, green and swanky all at once. Officially, the Panamera S is a plug-in hybrid, but that is pretty much where comparisons to most other hybrids end. The car features a muscular 3.0-liter, turbocharged v-6 engine tied to a 95-horsepower AC induction motor that together deliver a combined power rating of 416 horsepower and 435 pound feet of torque. The car can get from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds flat, has a top speed of 167 miles per hour and yet delivers a fuel efficiency of 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. With a starting price tag just a shade under $100,000, the Porsche Panamera hybrid is clearly not for everyone. But for those who can afford it, the car offers the perfect blend of price, eco friendliness and luxury.

Even if the price tag of these new green vehicles are out of your range, used eco cars can also be a valuable option. When buying used, always check the Carfax and vehicle history. You also may want to invest in an extended auto warranty, such as one from Carchex, which is a Carfax partner. Maintenance costs can be high on eco vehicles. Click here for more information.

Author Bio: Tom is a retired auto mechanic who blogs about cars from his California home.

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