If you have been frustrated by the lack of style and pure automotive beauty of green cars in the past, 2015 will be a very good year. In addition to the drop-dead BMW and Porsche models already on the market, consumers are going to see sharp plug-in rides from Mercedes-Benz and a pure EV by Tesla prettying up the scene. In fact, “supercar” and “hybrid car” are often synonymous these days. These additions to to the industry made the choices for World Green Car more difficult than ever. Each year, World Car Awards focuses on automobiles introducing green technology to the market using a panel of five experts from around the world who recommend a short list to 75 World Car jurors. After they review the entries and cast their ballots, the winner is announced at the New York Auto Show in April. Everything from fuel cell vehicles to pure EVs and hybrid supercars made the short list this year. Here are the 5 finalists for 2015 World Green Car, listed in alphabetical order.
1. BMW i8
It is hard to find more style in a car than BMW delivered in the i8, hybrid or otherwise. If this supercar’s scissor doors or elegant lines don’t grab your attention, the 357 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque should do the trick. From a green perspective, the panel must love the fact an i8 offers 15 miles of electric range and 76 miles per gallon equivalent in addition to shooting to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds (top speed: 155 miles per hour). There may be better ways to spend $136,500, but you could forget about them staring down this looker in a BMW dealership.
2. Hyundai x35/Tucson Fuel Cell
As the technology improves for converting natural gas into hydrogen fuel, vehicles like Hyundai X35 fuel cell crossover could become among the greenest available. For now, there are not enough fueling stations to make these cars viable, but Hyundai has been leasing the Tucson fuel cell in California. It can get 265 miles with full hydrogen tanks and only produces water emissions from the tailpipe. Consumer Reports reviewed the Tucson fuel cell in early February.
3. Kia Soul EV
The second entry from the Hyundai Motor Group is the Kia Soul EV, the electrified version of the brand’s funky city car. The Soul EV gets an impressive 93 miles of electric range and boasts a combined fuel economy of 105 miles per gallon equivalent (120 miles per gallon city). This car was a welcome addition to the pure EV lineup when it debuted in late 2014.
4. Volkswagen Golf GTE
The Volkswagen Golf GTE made its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2014. A plug-in hybrid version of the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year and North American Car of the Year, the Golf GTE sports 201 horsepower and 31 miles of electric driving range. When you consider its 157 miles per gallon rating on the New European Driving Cycle, you see why panelists had no choice but to put the GTE on the list of World Green Car finalists.
5. Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
In the plug-in hybrid version of the Volvo XC90 (a World Car Design of the Year finalist), the automaker does not skimp on performance in the slightest. The T8 twin-engine model is capable of 400 horsepower and 472 pounds-feet of torque while covering 25 miles on pure electric power. Add in 59 miles per gallon equivalent on the European cycle and you have a remarkable entry to what should be an impressive plug-in SUV/crossover market in the coming years. U.S. consumers will have access to this vehicle in 2015.