Don't sleep on hybrid performance, its electrifying.
It wasn't that long ago that hybrid drivers were stereotyped as a sanctimonious liberal hippie types. Thankfully, we are moving on, and people are starting to realize that hybrids can be good, exciting even. The majority of mass-production cars and crossovers have hybrid drivetrains available, and trucks and SUVs are getting in on the act too. The best part is that in addition to being environmentally friendly and saving money at the pump, electric motors are now used to bolster performance. Sometimes to a startling degree.
Before we get into our list proper, we should acknowledge what's become known as the Holy Trinity of hybrid hypercars. Once every ten years or so, a supercar manufacturer pushes the boundaries of performance and drops something special. In 2015, something extraordinary happened. Three manufacturers all revealed a their own hypercars, and showed us what could be done with a hybrid drivetrain. The Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 were an inflection point in performance, and all three manufacturers had decided independently to see how they could exploit a combination of raw horsepower and electric motors. All three were limited editions, cost around a million dollars, had around 900 horsepower, and hit 60 mph in under three seconds. The electric motors filled gaps in the engine's weak areas, particularly where torque was concerned. Amazingly, the V12 powered Laferrari, the twin-turbo V8 powered P1, and V8 powered 918 all cut CO2 emissions compared to their predecessors. The Lafarrari, for example, generates a total of 963 hp and emits 330g/km of CO2. It was the successor to the Enzo, which made 660 hp and emitted 545g/km of CO2.
Porsche has been aggressive about mating electric and gasoline power together in the name of performance. The Porsche Panamera hybrids come in several distinct flavors, and the most aggressive of which is the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. The four-door sedan's current iteration delivers 689 hp in total via a 563-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 and a 134-hp electric motor. Porsche claims a three-second zero to 60 mph time and that the extended wheelbase Executive model will get there just a tenth of a second slower. Those are supercar times from a sedan, and that's before acknowledging the fact it handles and grips in corners like a supercar as well, despite the extra battery weight.
It's going to be the used market only for the Polestar 1 soon. It was a 1,500-unit limited-production run for the plug-in hybrid coupe, and it will likely be a good long-term collectible. Volvo's tuning-arm-turned-manufacturer delivered a car that handles as well as it goes, and it goes very fast indeed. The drivetrain generates a total of 600 hp and 737 lb-ft of torque, and you can have even more fun honestly telling people it has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. It's up to you if you want to mention that the engine is turbocharged and supercharged, then backed up by two 111 hp electric motors at the back and a starter motor that can generate an extra 68 hp with the engine at the front. It'll hit 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, but more importantly, Polestar's tuning chops make it a devastatingly quick backroad and track day car.
The first company to really capitalize on hybrid technology as a spiritual successor to the Holy Trinity was Honda. But it took a while. Honda was first thinking about a successor in 2007, but then plans were cancelled with the economic downturn. Five years later it came to the Detroit auto show with NSX Concept. And the hybrid supercar finally went on sale in 2016. The new NSX hits 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, which is just a tenth of a second slower and at a fifth of the price of a Porsche 918. The Acura also uses electric motors for torque vectoring, which makes the Japanese supercar incredibly sticky on the road. It's also one of the few supercars that can truly be called a daily driver.
It has taken McLaren six years from its entry in the Holy Trinity to produce another series production hybrid supercar, but now it's here. The McLaren Artura is powered by a 577 hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor that will get it to 60 mph in 3 seconds dead, up to 124 mph in 8.3 seconds, and clock the quarter-mile in 10.7 seconds. Any McLaren is wasted at the drag strip, though, as it shines in the twisties. McLaren always said it wouldn't use batteries until it could make the car light enough to meet its standards on the track. If the video McLaren released of Daniel Riccardo drifting is anything to judge the car by, then that mission is well and truly accomplished.
Ferrari's twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 is a work of engineering art and produces a whopping 769 hp. That would usually be enough for a Ferrari, but with three electric motors added, the SF90 makes an eye-watering 986 hp. If you're European, that's a nice round 1,000 bhp, and what Ferrari was aiming for. Essentially, Ferrari has taken its most potent V8 yet and filled in the torque gaps with electric power. The final hp figure is really just a byproduct. If 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds and 0-124 mph in 6.7 doesn't convince you that hybrid power is something to be appreciated, well, we can't help you.
If everything above is a bit on the manic side for you, or you have room in the garage for a grand touring vehicle, the Lexus LC 500h has joy and style in spades. Its 3.5-liter V6 and electric motor combine for a total output of 354 hp, which is punch enough for a luxury coupe. It floats along the road, but recent suspension upgrades make it even more nimble for a car weighing more than two tons. Our favorite stat on the LC 500h (which has looks that shame many Italian coupes) is that it will sprint to 60 mph in under five seconds and still return 26/34/29 mpg. That's the same fuel economy rating as a 2021 Nissan Rogue.
While not as drop-dead gorgeous as the Polestar 1, the V60 (wagon) or the S90 (sedan) with that subtle Polestar Engineered badge are both stealth performance vehicles. The 415-hp, 494 lb-ft super and turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid drivetrain is smooth, impressively quick, and comes with manually adjustable Öhlins dampers. Only the hardcore will mess with those, but in their standard settings, both cars are genuine fun to toss down a back road, and the V60 qualifies as a true sleeper with its 4.4-second 0-60 mph time.