5 Eco-Friendly Cars That Show You Don’t Need Petrol for High Performance

For most drivers, the words “fuel efficiency” aren’t the first to pop into mind when we hear about the latest supercar. From Porsche to McLaren, supercar brands are normally associated with astronomical fuel consumption, and for good reason.

From the Ford GT, which gets an astoundingly terrible 4MPG when pushed to its limit to the Bugatti Veyron, which drinks fuel faster than the average aeroplane, most performance cars have terrible fuel efficiency.

Actually, change that to “had” terrible fuel efficiency. While the previous generation of performance cars is undoubtedly far from green, many of today’s fastest cars are surprisingly fuel efficient. Some don’t even use petrol at all.

From the new high-performance version of the Tesla Model S to Porsche’s incredible new hybrid supercar, we’re tracked down five eco-friendly cars that show you don’t need to deal with fuel inefficiency to enjoy amazing performance.

BMW i8

The i8 is BMW’s newest supercar. Like the M3, M5 and M6 – the company’s other sports models – it’s expensive, starting at $135,000. It’s also exceptionally rare, as BMW plans to manufacture no more than 500 models each year.

Despite its high price and its limited production, the i8 could be one of the German manufacturer’s most influential vehicles in decades. It’s certainly has the right looks to make a serious impact.

The i8 is powered by a 1.5 litre inline-three cylinder engine. This tiny but powerful engine is paired with a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery. Together, they generate almost 360 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque – impressive numbers.

What’s more impressive is the way the two engines work together. While traditional hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius used each engine largely in isolation, the petrol and electric engines in the BMW i8 work together, each powering different wheels.

The two front wheels are powered by the 129-horsepower electric engine. The two rear wheels are powered by the 228-horsepower petrol engine. When you put your foot down, the car accelerates rapidly – it goes from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.

Around town, on the other hand, the i8 is amazingly efficient. Switch the car into its electric-only eDrive mode and you can drive to and from the local supermarket with virtually no emissions.

The i8 might not be the mass-produced vehicle that makes electric car technology a mainstream option for performance cars, but it’s an wonderful piece of engineering and proof that small engines, when combined with batteries, can be very powerful.

Porsche 918

Porsche’s new hybrid supercar blends amazing looks with ludicrous performance. It also costs a truly absurd $845,000 to purchase new, placing it out of reach for all but the world’s wealthiest motorists.

Despite the ridiculous price tag, the Porsche 918 is an innovative car that signals an interesting change in priorities for the German automaker. Instead of the usual rear single engine, the 918 has one V8 petrol engine and two electric motors.

The V8 itself is far from efficient, producing 608 horsepower and using more than a fair share of petrol when pushed to its limits. The two electric motors, on the other hand, produce an additional 279 horsepower with a 19 km electric-only range.

While the Porsche’s range is far from impressive when compared to the all-electric cars made by Tesla, its combination of two eco-friendly electric motors and a much more traditional petrol V8 produce amazing results and surprisingly low emissions.

It’s also an amazing car from a performance and handling perspective, posting the first sub-7 minute time around the Nürburgring track. The 918 clocked in at 6:57 – the fastest time ever posted by a street legal vehicle on the track.

Tesla Model S P85D

When Tesla unveiled the Model S, the automotive world was amazed by its unique combination of excellent performance, fantastic looks, all-electric power and sheer comfort. It was the first electric car that was truly luxurious and usable day to day.

While the standard Model S is fast, the Model S P85D – its high-performance cousin – takes speed to a whole new level. The P85D accelerates from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds and clocks an 11.8 second quarter-mile, all while looking like a regular luxury car.

It also sports an amazing automated driving system that allows it to see upcoming road signs and monitor other vehicles, an interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end Mercedes Benz and looks that match all of its petrol-based competitors.

While the P85D isn’t an everyday car, the regular Model S is proving popular with its target market: luxury car owners who are new to electric technology. In 2014, Tesla built an estimated 33,000 Model S cars – impressive numbers for a high-end vehicle.

Wrightspeed X1

At first glance, the Wrightspeed X1 looks like an Ariel Atom – the car that famously melted Jeremy Clarkson’s face off on Top Gear. The X1 is a one-off racing car built on the Ariel Atom platform with a difference: it’s 100% electric.

Thanks to its light weight, the X1 accelerates from 0-60 in under three seconds. It’s also remarkably easy to control and quick around a racetrack, largely thanks to its light frame and small wheelbase.

As an everyday driver, the X1 might be highly impractical. Despite this, it’s a great look at how electric car technology, when paired with a light chassis, can be turned into an inexpensive car that beats today’s top supercars on a racetrack.

McLaren P1

The McLaren P1 is truly an astounding feat of engineering. It’s amazingly light, with windows that are just three millimetres thick, a carbon fibre chassis and an interior that’s stripped of almost every imaginable feature in order to save weight.

It’s also a plug-in hybrid that can be driven down to the local supermarket without using any petrol. Like the Porsche 918, the P1 combines a 3.8 litre, 727 horsepower petrol engine with an electric motor that produces its own 176 horsepower.

When driven slowly, it uses virtually no petrol, instead coasting along on its electric motor and plug-in rechargeable battery. When you put your foot down, however, it transforms into a blindingly fast supercar that’s unlike anything else in the world.

The future of eco-friendly motoring

With electric cars going from scientific concept to reality in little more than a single decade, the future looks amazing for eco-friendly motorists. Far from being slow or characterless, today’s eco-friendly cars can be amazing performance machines.

Whether you drive a petrol-based sports car or an eco-friendly hybrid, maintaining your car is the key to getting the most from it. Protect your car with an extended car warranty from Warrantywise and enjoy stress-free driving without surprise costs.

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