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High-Performance Hybrids: 5 Fierce Gas-Electric Superstars

Although the words “high-performance” and “hybrids” don’t sound as though they should appear in the same story, let alone string together as high-performance hybrids in the same sentence, there are actually a few out there. For the most part, they’re moon-shot expensive, but they’re out there nonetheless. Some you can still get your hands on, while others were limited-edition models and are no more.

As performance carmakers come to grips with a world heading toward sustainable-energy transportation solutions, they’re working to keep themselves not only relevant, but in business by pushing into alternative fuels.

Autotrader assembled a gaggle of high-performance hybrids that, as few as 10 years ago, most of us couldn’t have envisioned as hybrids. It’s a new world.

Acura NSX

Acura NSX

The confluence of butter-melting styling, jackrabbit acceleration and advanced technology, the Acura NSX is the poster child for hybrid-powered vehicles. An everyday driver capable of stripping the paint off every vehicle it passes, it doesn’t even seem aware it’s a hybrid. Two electric motors are dedicated to the front wheels, leaving the rear wheels of this all-wheel drive roadster to a 500-horsepower mid-engine twin-turbo V6 and 9-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Combined gas/electric output is an impressive 573 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque.

With a top speed of 191 miles per hour, NSX can catapult from 0-to-60 in just over three seconds. Government-estimated mileage rates the NSX at 21 miles per gallon city and 22 mpg highway.

Base price with destination charge: $157,800

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Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche characterizes the 918 Spyder as the gene pool for its future sports cars, which is just what all the hybrids here probably represent for each of their brands. A clean-sheet-of-paper design, the AWD 918’s hybrid system stars a mid-mounted 608-hp 4.6-liter V8 engine boosted with two electric motors (one for each axle). In concert, the electric motors and V8 bang out a combined 887 hp and an Abrams tank-like 944 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission ushers V8 output to the rear wheels.

The run up to 60 mph from a stop requires roughly 2.6 sec with a top speed of 214 mph. Fuel economy for this plug-in hybrid is 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Porsche made only 918 units, and they are long gone.

Base price: $847,975

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Lexus LC

Lexus LC

First introduced for 2018, Lexus calls the LC 500h the next-generation hybrid. It comes in only one grade.

Lexus developed its new Multi Stage Hybrid System (MSHS) for the LCh. It teams a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 with with two electric motors. It uses the CVT Lexus employs on other of its hybrids to transfer power to the rear wheels, but adds to it a special 4-speed automatic transmission. The CVT and 4-speed conspire to alter output in four stages to maximize the V6’s performance and efficiency. The result is 10 ratios allowing the driver to shift through them with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. MSHS provides more electric assist at lower vehicle speeds and permits electric-only power up to 87 miles per hour.

With a combined output of 354 hp, this hybrid system pushes the LC 500h from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 sec. It has government-rated fuel economy of 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.

Base price: $97,505

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McLaren P1

McLaren P1

The only production car to best seven seconds on the venerated Nurburgring in northern Germany, the McLaren P1 was a 375-unit limited-edition released in 2013. A 272-hp 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and a 176-hp electric motor are the heart of the P1’s hybrid system. Together, they forge a combined 903 hp and 723 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor can operate by itself or in auto mode with the V8. Sending the V8’s output to the rear wheels is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

With a top speed of 217 mph, the P1 can rocket from 0-to-60 in about 2.7 seconds. It’s electric range is as much as 19 miles. Government-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

Base price: $1,150,000

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BMW i8

BMW i8

Like nothing else in BMW’s lineup, the futuristic i8 is an impressive amount of power packed under a carbon-fiber skin. Upholding the gasoline-engine end of the hybrid system is a 228-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine. It’s mated with a 129-hp electric motor for a combined output of 357 hp and 420 lb-ft of peak torque. The electric motor turns the front wheels while a 6-speed automatic rushes power from the turbocharged engine to the rear wheels.

In pure EV mode, the i8 can travel up to 15 miles. Getting to 60 mph from a standstill takes 4.2 sec, with a top speed of 155 mph. Mileage is a government-estimated 28 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

Base price: $144,395

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Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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  1. Gotta love the i8, If they slashed prices in half where they should be IMO they would have a hot seller, They could always ask 140k for a Mi8 or iM8 or whatever but the base i8 would sell like hotcakes for the looks alone.
    But BMW full well knows that people will gladly overpay for the BMW roundel.

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