While powerful hybrids and electric vehicles have become a normal site at dealerships (and one EV maker’s “showrooms”), there still is hesitation among drivers who like feeling muscle behind a car’s accelerator. For every high-praise story about Tesla, there seems to be a mocking one about the Toyota Prius or the discontinued Cadillac Escalade Hybrid (yes, that used to be a thing).
Lately, luxury automakers haven’t been shy about showing what an electric motor can do for performance and efficiency. Though at the moment only featured in pricey machines, engines providing more than 800 horsepower and the equivalent of 67 mpg bode well for the future of efficiency and old-school muscle. Here are nine hybrid automobiles delivering some of the top horsepower on the market. Engine specs, horsepower, pricing, and fuel economy figures are quoted from published data by the automakers.
9. BMW ActiveHybrid 3
BMW hits most of the right buttons with auto consumers, and its ActiveHybrid series is no different. In the base model BMW ActiveHybrid 3 ($49,900), the 3.0-liter twin turbo inline six engine combines with electric power to deliver a total of 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain allows drivers to hustle from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, which is actually a bit faster than the BMW 335i can perform with its gas engine.
The ActiveHybrid 3?s weakness is it can only manage 33 mpg on the highway (just one mpg better than the 335i). Then again, in a U.S. market of over 16 million auto sales a year, every bit of fuel savings counts.
8. Lexus GS 450h
Toyota’s luxury brand is no slouch in the performance hybrid category, either. In the Lexus GS 450h ($60,430), drivers have access to 338 horsepower from two electric motors and a 3.5-liter V6. That output allows drivers to flash from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. In terms of economy, the GS 450h gets 34 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined — significantly better than the top quote in the GS 350 (29 mpg highway).
7. BMW ActiveHybrid 7
While the more luxurious ActiveHybrid 5 ($61,400) shares its 338-hp powertrain with the ActiveHybrid 3, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 ($84,300) kicks the power up a notch to 350 hp with its 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo engine. Its combination of gas and electric motors allows the ActiveHybrid 7 to flash from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. Fuel economy in this roomy luxury sedan maxes out at 30 mpg highway, which is exemplary in its class.
6. BMW i8
BMW indisputably breathed life into the EV industry with its plug-in i8 supercar ($135,700) that makes green as sexy as anything in existence. Scissor doors and striking lines give the car its impeccable style, but the three-cylinder turbo engine (the first of its kind in a BMW) combines with a powerful electric motor to deliver 357 hp overall. Acceleration from 0-60 takes just 4.2 seconds, making the BMW i8 an electric car capable of 22 miles of gas-free driving that also delivers sports car performance.
5. Infiniti Q70 Hybrid
Infiniti delivered on the looks of its pretty Q70 hybrid ($55,650), but the automaker didn’t skimp on power by any stretch. Its 3.5-liter V6 engine combines with an electric motor to deliver 360 hp. The Q70 Hybrid can fly from 0-60 in under 6 seconds while posting an impressive fuel economy of 34 mpg on the highway. Those specs, along with its reasonable price tag in the class, make the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid a worthy competitor to Japanese and German luxury models.
4. Porsche Cayenne Hybrid (380 hp)
Back in the day, the GM hybrid series, which improbably included a Silverado pickup and Cadillac Escalade, would have stolen this spot on the list with their 369 hp engines. Those days are over since GM discontinued its hybrid truck lineup in 2012.
For now, Porsche’s “sports car for the whole family” Cayenne Hybrid crossover ($70,900) gets the honors in the top five with 380 horsepower and hefty 428 lb-ft of torque from its 3.0-liter supercharged V6. That muscle offers drivers the ability to go 0-60 in just 6.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 160 mph. (Hey, you never know when you might need preposterous speed to evade the bad guys.) In more moderate driving, this hybrid crossover can get 24 mpg on the highway.
Note: The Volkswagen Touareg, which has limited availability in the U.S., also uses the supercharged V6 Porche’s parent company VW installed in the Cayenne Hybrid. Both vehicles make 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque.
3. Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
What is a performance hybrid unless it’s a 400-hp Porsche? The Panamera S E-Hybrid ($99,000) answers that question with a 333-hp gas engine that combines with an electric motor to deliver a furious 416 hp. No one is going to think “hybrid” when seeing a car blast from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. The same applies for anyone encountering the Panamera Hybrid at its top speed of 167 mph.
Since it is a plug-in with 25 miles of electric range (per Green Car Reports), this speedy Porsche got a stunning efficiency rating of 50 MPGe. U.S. auto consumers are snatching up the Panamera Hybrid in 2014.
2. Lexus LS 600h
At its truly hefty MSRP ($120,060), the Lexus LS 600h is the true status symbol of performance hybrid sedans. At least they didn’t hold back on the power quotient. Inside the LS 600h is a 5.0-liter V8 with all-wheel drive and electric assist that pushes the total output to 438 hp, which is more than the Lexus IS F can produce. The Lexus LS 600 hybrid powertrain moves the stately ride from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Peak fuel economy is 23 mpg on the highway.
1. Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid
Porsche took the concept of the performance hybrid car to the moon with the 918 Spyder ($845,000). Packing a gas and electric powertrain capable of 887 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, this car with its Weissach performance package went ballistic on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, notching a record time for production cars with a run of 06:57:00.
The Porsche 918 Spyder can do it all: launch from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds; hit a top speed of 214 mph; cover 12 miles on all-electric power; and notch fuel economy of 67 MPGe. It is one of the elite automobiles that happens to be a plug-in hybrid. Now if only they can get that package delivered on an affordable scale…