Seven hybrid supercars changing the performance car landscape
In the modern age where electrification is the norm and car manufacturers are under pressure to limit emissions, some are still finding ways to keep us car enthusiasts happy.
Their cars use electric power, but not necessarily in a way that environmentalists love. These cars use electric power to go faster. In fact, most of the fastest-accelerating cars on the market today use hybrid powertrains. They offer a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ scenario where we get impressive performance and companies can fulfil their low-emission goals. PHEV batteries can be charged in several ways, whether that’s through a wall outlet, a charging station, regenerative braking, or even the engine itself. What’s special about many of these cars is that you don’t lose the aural pleasure or thrills of a high-revving V8/V12 but can also crawl out of the parking lot without waking up your neighbours.
We take a look at seven such cars (and a few special mentions).
This limited-production model from Lamborghini is the first V12 car that comes with a supercapacitor instead of the conventional lithium-ion battery pack. The difference here is that supercapacitors have a faster charge and discharge time than batteries which in the case of supercars, is a good deal. Lamborghini later used the same formula for the extremely exclusive modern adaptation of the Countach as well. The Sian has a V12 that produces 807bhp and 720Nm of torque and the supercapacitor produces 34bhp on tap. This results in a 0 to 100kmph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 355kmph.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale
The SF90 Stradale is the first-ever Ferrari to feature PHEV architecture. And not only that, but the twin-turbo V8 used in the SF90 is also the most powerful 8-cylinder engine in Ferrari’s history producing 769bhp. The engine is integrated with three electric motors, two of which are independent and located on the front axle, with the third at the rear between the engine and the 8-speed DCT. The total output of the electric motors comes to 217bhp. With these impressive performance figures, Ferrari claims a 0 to 100kmph time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 340kmph.
Replacing the Aventador wasn’t going to be easy, but the Italians did it. What’s special here is that Lamborghini has managed to keep the V12 alive. Lambo’s 6.5-litre V12 is mated with three electric motors to produce a combined 1001bhp for a 0 to 100kmph time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of over 350kmph. The front axle features two e-motors whose primary functions are torque vectoring, regenerative braking, and providing an electric boost. The rear e-motor is mounted right behind the V12 engine and functions as a starter for the engine itself and a generator to recharge batteries. Transmission duties are handled by an 8-speed DCT.
Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray
Corvettes are one of the most legendary cars in the world. And now for the first time, it comes with a hybrid powertrain. The 6.2-litre V8 LT2 engine first introduced in 2020 powers the rear wheels and produces 488bhp. The electric motors power the front wheels and produce an additional 157bhp taking the total to 646bhp. And although it doesn’t sound much compared to what the current supercar norm is, it is one of the quickest cars here with a 0 to 100kmph time of 2.5 seconds. Chevrolet says the e-motor helped reduce acceleration times by half a second.
Ferrari 296 GTB
Some call it the ‘entry-level’ Ferrari because it uses a V6 in a class where a V8 or a V12 would usually be seen. But despite that, it is among the fastest hybrid supercars. The hybrid powertrain comprises a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine producing 653bhp and a 164bhp electric motor to produce a combined output of 818bhp. The tuned V6 engine echoes the notes of a V12 engine while going from 0 to 100kmph in 2.9 seconds before topping out at 330kmph. The electric-only range of this car is 25 km.
Aston Martin Valkyrie
This model was Aston's first hypercar and was created in partnership with Formula One team Red Bull Racing. The car's hybrid powertrain consists of a 6.5 litre V12 producing 1140bhp in combination with a 160bhp e-motor. The Valkyrie is made with 100 per cent carbonfibre and weighs under 1400kg. This means it can blast from 0-100kmph in just 2.5 seconds. The light weight also makes it a monster on the track, accelerating out of corners with max torque from the e-motor, backed by massive reserves of power when the hypercar needs to stretch its legs.
Like the Valkyrie, this is also made in partnership with an F1 team and borrows the Mercedes F1 team’s championship-winning V6. The total output with the turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 and four e-motors is an impressive 1048bhp. The 0-100kmph time is 2.9 seconds and Mercedes has capped the top speed at 352kmph. What’s special here is that this car did the Nurburgring lap in just 6 minutes and 35 seconds - smashing Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR's time by a staggering 3.65 seconds, a feat that is credited to its incredible aero tech which was also borrowed from F1.
Normally I would end the story here but I can’t talk about how amazing today’s hybrid cars are without talking about the holy trinity. These are the cars that started it all — The Mclaren P1, the car that laid the foundation for modern-day McLarens; the 918 Spyder, one of the most influential cars of all time; and The Ferrari LaFerrari, the Ferrari so good they named it twice.
One of the most potent production cars ever made, the McLaren P1 is known for being one of the earliest Plug-in Hybrid supercars. The P1 has Formula One-derived features such as the Instant Power Assist System (IPAS), which gives an instant boost in acceleration via the electric motor, and a Drag Reduction System (DRS) which operates the car's rear wing. With a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 727bhp and a 4.7 kWh lithium-ion battery rated for 176bhp, the combined output comes to 903bhp. 0 to 100kmph is achieved in 2.8 seconds. McLaren also wanted to ensure the P1 would perform in all climatic conditions. For this, the car was tested in California's Death Valley, and on Germany's iconic Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Porsche 918 Spyder
The 918 Spyder was the spiritual successor of the iconic Porsche Carrera GT. And did the Nurburgring lap in 6min 57sec, shaving off an incredible 14 seconds from the previous record. The 918 Spyder was also one of the first cars to make use of regenerative braking. It derives power from a 4.6-litre naturally aspirated V8, mated to two electric motors. The ICE made around 570bhp and the 153bhp rear motor and a 127bhp motor on the front axle took the combined total to an insane 874bhp. The 918 has a top speed of 350km/h and a mind-blowing 0-100km/h time of 2.6 seconds. All this while still maintaining the carbon emissions of a normal road car.
The Ferrari LaFerrari is another street-legal production supercar inspired by Formula One. It uses race-proven hybrid technology from its Formula One program like the KERS system and has a Formula One electronic traction control integrated with the hybrid system. It combines a 789bhp 6.3-litre V12 engine with a 147bhp electric motor, The 0 to 100kmph time on this car was less than three seconds, and it achieved a top speed of over 350kmph.