Going green never went so quick

Ready or not, the hybrids are coming. Scratch that. They’re already here, and their numbers are steadily increasing. But fear not, brave auto enthusiast, the ever-increasing popularity of the hybrid powertrain isn’t going to diminish your fun behind the wheel. In fact, the addition of electric assistance might actually increase the smile factor of the modern sports car. Despite rampant speculation and fear mongering over the Prius-ification of the performance segment, hybrid powertrains can add mph in addition to mpg. To prove as much, here are five of the best examples of exactly that.

Of course, you won’t be able to get one of these machines for cheap, as adding a performance hybrid system to the powertrain also adds quite a few dollars to the bottom line. But that’s to be expected when dealing with top-of-the-line technology, especially tech born and bred for the racetrack. Eventually, we’ll see this stuff trickle down to more accessible models, but for now, hybrid sports cars occupy the top of the pyramid. Tell us which model you want in your garage, and if we missed something we shouldn’t have, by posting in the comments.

Continue reading to learn more about TopSpeed’s Top 5 Hybrid Sports Cars.

BMW i8

2015 BMW i8 High Resolution Exterior
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Playing the role of follow-up to a tee, the i8 looks the part thanks to the same wide-and-low stance

Back in the late ‘70s, BMW launched production of the M1, a two-door wedge of speed making 273 horsepower at the rear axle. It was the Bavarian’s first shot at offering the public a mid-engine sports car, and only 457 units were created by the time production ended in 1981. Over three decades later, at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW took a second swing at the mid-engine layout with the unveiling of the M1’s spiritual successor – the i8.

Playing the role of follow-up to a tee, the i8 looks the part thanks to the same wide-and-low stance, albeit with an appropriately spacey 21st century style. The look is also functional, with the i8 boasting a very low 0.26 coefficient of drag, while tech-heavy details like standard LED headlights (laser headlights are also available, depending on the market) complete the aesthetic.

Speaking of tech-heavy, the i8 sheds weight with a variety of cool composite materials. Under the body panels is a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) “life module passenger cell,” while aluminum, magnesium, and further CFRP are used elsewhere. The whole thing weighs in at just 3,285 pounds, with mass spread in a nearly perfect 50:50 distribution front to back.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the star of the show was the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which combines a 1.5-liter three-cylinder internal combustion engine (think of it as half an inline-six) making 231 horses at the rear axle, and a 131-horse electric motor/lithium-ion battery combo sending power to the front axle. Put them together, and you get 357 horsepower and 420-pound-feet of torque, plus AWD grip. A run from 0-to-60 mph takes just 4.2 seconds, with 22 miles are possible using electricity alone. Top speed looks like 155 mph.

Pricing is set at $143,400.

Read the full review here.

Acura NSX

2016 Acura NSX
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Like the first, the new NSX also boasts high-tech materials, with carbon fiber used extensively alongside the requisite aluminum components

If you grew up in the ‘90s adoring Japanese imports, you probably remember the first-gen NSX. Originally produced in 1990, the NSX was Honda’s (or if you live in the states, Acura’s) two-seat mid-engine sports car, offering exotic levels of performance and styling, but in a more comfortable, reliable, and accessible package. The first-gen NSX’s claim to fame was development input from legendary F1 driver Ayrton Senna, as well as utilization of the world’s first mass-produced all-aluminum body and titanium connecting rods.

Production ended in 2005, but about a decade later, Honda unleashed a second-gen model. Like the first, the new NSX also boasts high-tech materials, with carbon fiber used extensively alongside the requisite aluminum components. That makes the NSX light, down to 3,803 pounds despite an absurdly complicated engine and drivetrain.

It all starts with a mid-mounted, longitudinal twin-turbo V-6 with dual overhead cams and 3.5 liters of displacement. The ICE is mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Supplementing the dino-juice drinker is no less than three electric motors, with output split front to back using Honda’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system.

Peak output is rated at 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque, which, properly applied, yields a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds. Top speed is estimated at around 190 mph. Pricing starts at $156,000.

Read the full review here.

McLaren P1

2014 McLaren P1 High Resolution Exterior
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The P1 makes its presence known thanks to a thumping plug-in hybrid powertrain

Now we’re getting into the real heavy hitters, starting with the halo car from Surrey. The P1 is based on a concept that dropped in 2012 at the Paris Motor Show, with the production variant ramping up for sale the following year. Specs include the normal hypercar good stuff, like a mid-engine, RWD drivetrain layout, and lightweight carbon fiber monocoque structure underneath.

Behind the cabin, the P1 makes its presence known thanks to a thumping plug-in hybrid powertrain. Exhaust fireballs come courtesy of a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8, which makes 727 horsepower and 531 pound-feet on its own. But 700 horsepower is like the new 500 horsepower, so McLaren also added an electric motor producing an extra 177 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque to help fill the power gaps left by the ICE. The net result is a boost in peak output to a whopping 904 horses and 723 pound-feet of torque, all of which hits the rear axle by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Like the i8 and NSX, the P1 is a follow-up to a preceding automotive icon, with the McLaren following in the footsteps of the legendary ‘90s-era F1 supercar. As such, the P1 comes equipped with a slew of modern Formula 1 technology, including something called an Instant Power Assist System (IPAS), which dumps electric motivation at the push of a button (think of it like electronic nitrous). There’s also a Drag Reduction System (DRS) for the rear wing, which helps the P1 achieve even greater top end by lowering downforce. Finally, there’s a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to keep the battery pack topped off.

The net result of all this go-faster motorsport technology is a sprint to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, with 300 km/h (186 mph) achieved in just 16.5 seconds. Top speed is rated at a claimed 249 mph with the limiter removed.

Pricing starts at $1.15 million. However, if you find the “standard” P1 too tame for your tastes, McLaren also offers the even-faster race-ready P1 GTR, which gets more power, more grip, and more wing, all for about $3.4 million out the door.

Read the full review here.

Porsche 918 Spyder

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
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This Stuttgart superstar will also manage 12 miles of all-electric cruising

Sure, it might look like a flatter, wider 911, but the 918 Spyder is a whole lot more than that. Revealed in 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, this hybrid monster is a mid-engine, AWD rocket ship capable of hanging with the best of the best in the world of performance. Behind the cabin, you’ll find a naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8, which is mated to a seven-speed PDK double-clutch transmission and creates 600 horsepower. Electrifying the ICE is a duo of electric motors and a 6.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which means with the loud pedal firmly depressed, this thing will make as much as 887 horsepower and 944 pound-feet of torque.

Performance specs look like 2.5 seconds in the 0-to-62 mph benchmark, plus 218 mph at the top end. This Stuttgart superstar will also manage 12 miles of all-electric cruising, if you’re so inclined.

Of course, a high-performance hybrid system and AWD drivetrain add a lot of weight, so Porsche cut the pounds by using a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic chassis. The 918 can also be had with the optional Weissach package, which boosts the power-to-weight ratio to 4.06 lb/horsepower versus the standard model’s 4.23 lb/horsepower ratio. An all-wheel steering system helps to direct the heft in the corners.

Production ended in 2015 with an appropriate 918 units created. At the time, pricing started at $847,000.

Read the full review here.

Ferrari LaFerrari

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Exterior AutoShow
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This Maranello mega-machine justifies its break from tradition with a nod to incorporating the very best in motorsport technology

The Prancing Horse always seems at the forefront in the discussion of what constitutes a “pure” sports car, which made it rather surprising when it was announced that the Ferrariest of Ferraris would be a hybrid.

Revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in 2013, this Maranello mega-machine justifies its break from tradition with a nod to incorporating the very best in motorsport technology, including a slew of goodies plucked from the world of Formula 1, similar to the P1. The aero, for example is all active, with either more downforce or less drag available depending on the situation at hand. Then there’s the F1-derived traction control system and magnetorheological suspension system that help keep it shiny side up when blasting around corners.

But like any Ferrari worth its Rosso Corsa paint job, the Ferrari squared’s piece de resistance is its powertrain. Making it go is 6.3-liter V-12 engine, which spins to a dizzying 9,250 rpm while providing the ever-appropriate Italian twelve-cylinder wail out the exhaust pipes. Boosting the ICE are two electric motors, one of which drives the wheels, while the other juices the ancillaries.

All told, the LaFerrari produces as much as 949 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, good enough for a run to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and a top speed of 217 mph. Pricing is set at $1.42 million.

Read the full review here.

Special Mention – Aston Martin AM-RB 001

2018 Aston Martin AM-RB 001 High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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The RB 001 promises world-beating performance when it’s finally unleashed on the public

And the hybrid sports car train keeps on a’rolling. The latest entry in this segment once again hails from the U.K., with the AM-RB 001 looking to set a new high mark. Essentially a prototype racer plucked from the Circuit de la Sarthe ractrack and (somehow) made road legal, the RB 001 is the product of a partnership between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing, promising world-beating performance when it’s finally unleashed on the public.

The new hypercar has yet to make its official splashdown, but we’ve been fed a few interesting tidbits in the run up to its release sometime next year. For starters, the whole thing looks like it was made entirely from carbon fiber and lightweight alloys, with outrageous aero and ground effects employed from tip to tail.

The big news, however, is the powertrain, which will equip a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 and HY-KERS hybrid system to drive the rear wheels by way of a seven-speed transmission. Peak output will match curb weight in a 1-to-1 ratio, which means this thing will have more than enough speed to justify the spaceship styling.

Pricing is set at around $2.8 million, but per usual, each example in the limited 150-unit production run is already spoken for.

Read the full review here.


2015 BMW i8 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2016 Acura NSX
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2014 McLaren P1
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BMW i8 Acura NSX McLaren P1
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
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Porsche 918 Spyder 2.5 Seconds
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
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2018 Aston Martin AM-RB 001
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Porsche 918 Spyder Ferrari LaFerrari Aston Martin AM-RB 001

You see? That wasn’t so bad, now was it? Hybrid performance is most definitely a thing, and something to be celebrated by enthusiasts. Maybe Prius-ification isn’t so bad, after all…

But we wanna know – which of these hybrid sports cars do you lust after? Let us know in the comments section.

Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
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