TECH
12/31/2013 11:44 am ET Updated Dec 31, 2013

5 Sports Car Stunners You'll Be Shocked To Learn Are Hybrids

Porsche

Toss aside your thoughts of what a hybrid car should be. Beginning in 2014, automakers like Porsche, Ferrari and BMW will be putting electric motors alongside gas engines in sports cars that can tear up the track as well as save the environment (or at least hurt it less). Hybrids will no longer be confined to the driveways of Toyota Prius drivers attempting to squeeze the most mileage out of a gallon of fuel.

Performance-hybrid may sound like an oxymoron, but the racing world has proved that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Audi currently races a hybrid-electric car in the FIA World Endurance Championship (formerly the American Le Mans Series), and Formula 1 race cars have harnessed the power of electricity since 2009.

The benefit of adding electricity to a gas-powered sports car goes beyond the obvious green advantages. Electric motors offer additional power, which can translate into additional speed and potentially quicker lap times. True, these cars will likely never be the greenest machines available, since high performance inherently wreaks havoc on efficiency; but these cars give us hope that being environmentally conscious can coexist with driving fun.

Below are five sports cars we think will change the way you view hybrid cars forever.

  • Porsche 918 Spyder
    Porsche

    The last supercar Porsche produced was the ludicrous 605-horsepower Carrera GT, a car that scared Porsche test driver Walter Rohrl and recently took the life of actor Paul Walker in a fiery accident.

    If the Carrera GT was a temperamental, feral cat ready to draw its claws and attack at a moment's notice, then the 918 Spyder is its domesticated sibling. With a combined 887 horsepower from a burly 4.6-liter V8 engine and two electric motors, the all-wheel drive 918 Spyder is still a wild animal at heart.

    But as Chris Harris from the YouTube channel /Drive learned during a test drive, the 918 Spyder can be tamed.

    While Porsche's quoted 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds and top speed in excess of 211 mph certainly get our blood flowing, one of the 918 Spyder's neatest tricks is its plug-in capability. This is a car that can go up to 18 miles on electric power alone. And though the loss of its 608-horsepower internal combustion engine certainly takes a toll on performance, a 918 Spyder propelled solely by electricity can still manage to scoot to 60 mph quicker than a normal gas-powered BMW 320i.

    Starting at $845,000, the 918 Spyder is a gasoline-electric performance-hybrid for the rich. Fortunately, the car's looks are so intoxicating it's a treat to catch even a peek at the car's voluptuous fenders and arching rear end.
  • Ferrari LaFerrari
    PIERRE ANDRIEU via Getty Images

    Not to be outdone by Porsche, Ferrari is set to release its tediously named LaFerrari. (For those of you who don't parlate Italiano, LaFerrari is Italian for "the Ferrari.") Like the Porsche, the LaFerrari is a hybrid; however, unlike the 918 Spyder, the Ferrari will not have the ability to drive on electric power alone.

    Ferrari calls the hybrid's gasoline-electric system HY-KERS and claims that it was designed to achieve electric-only driving in future Ferrari models.

    For now, the system helps curb emissions and, combined with the LaFerrari's 6.3-liter V12 engine, produces an incredible 963 horsepower. That's shy of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport's mind-boggling 1,200 horsepower, but the LaFerrari will also weigh a good deal less than the big Bug.

    Just as the 918 Spyder claims the long-dormant supercar spot in Porsche's model hierarchy from the Carrera GT, the LaFerrari effectively replaces the Enzo, Ferrari's supercar in the early 2000s.

    With only 499 LaFerraris set to be built and each already purchased at a price of $1.4 million, the chances of seeing, yet alone owning, a LaFerrari are slim.
  • McLaren P1
    McLaren

    If you grew up in the '90s, then you probably knew about the McLaren F1. The supercar, which boasted a top speed of more than 240 mph, was the poster car of its time, gracing the walls of young boys who grew up obsessed with Power Rangers and Tim Burton's Batman.

    Now, McLaren has unveiled its supercar for the 21st century. Called the P1, this 903-horsepower gasoline-electric hybrid achieves a terminal velocity of only 217 mph, a good deal less than its legendary predecessor; however, the company says the P1 can go from 0-186 mph a full 5 seconds quicker than the F1. How's that for progress?.

    Like the 918 Spyder, the P1 is a plug-in hybrid. It can travel over 6 miles on electricity before the twin-turbo V8 steps in.

    Only 375 P1 models will be produced, and each will cost more than $1 million. Still, we're hopeful McLaren will one day employ its hybrid technology in more affordable vehicles.
  • BMW i8
    BMW

    The BMW i8's 362-horsepower gasoline-electric powertrain will take it from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, according to BMW. The manufacturer also claims that the car's slick shape, thin tires and a teeny, turbocharged, three-cylinder gas engine work together with the electric motor to achieve 94 miles per gallon.

    BMW promises the i8 will manage 155 mph and, as a plug-in hybrid, will be able to go up to 22 miles on electricity alone.

    With a starting price of $135,700, or approximately one-sixth the price of a Porsche 918 Spyder, the i8 certainly makes a case for being a bargain in the spectrum of hybrid sports cars. Plus, it's the first production car to have laser headlamps.
  • Acura NSX
    Lintao Zhang via Getty Images

    So far, we've only seen the Acura NSX in concept form. And what we've seen, we like.

    According to automotive website Edmunds.com, the next-generation NSX will use a turbocharged V6 engine and three different electric motors. The online publication guesses this combination should result in nearly 550 horsepower -- a good deal more than the BMW i8.

    While we wait for Acura to tell us official horsepower, fuel economy and pricing figures of the car, videos (like this one Acura posted of a prototype NSX lapping Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) make us anxious to get to see this mid-engine hybrid sports car in the flesh.

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