The Honda CR-Z was first introduced as a concept vehicle in 2007 with the production version finally arriving at the end of 2010. As soon as the CR-Z concept was unveiled, it immediately brought back memories of the Honda CR-X from the 1980’s with its sporty body and two seat layout. Unfortunately the CR-Z doesn’t quite have enough “sport” under the hood. Honda calls the CR-Z a “sport hybrid,” but 122 horsepower isn’t going to draw much attention on a track — but we have hope!
Fisker, a new name to the automotive industry recently released its first model, the 2012 Fisker Karma, which takes a hybrid system and wraps it in a sexy four-door body. The Karma is powered by an electric motor with a 2.0L turbocharged range-extending engine — think of it as a much sportier alternative to the Chevy Volt. The Karma has 403 horsepower, the ability to travel up to 50 miles in full electric mode, and it can reach 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds with a top speed of 125 mph. The only major draw back is that its $90,000 price tag is beyond the reach of most buyers.
So what’s next for the hybrid segment? At this year’s Detroit Auto Show, automakers unveiled a host of new hybrid models that we will soon see in showrooms. The new hybrids offer the latest hybrid technology, but with more emphasis on “style” and “sport” than ever before.
Ford wowed the crowd at the Detroit Auto Show with its all-new 2013 Fusion. The 2013 Fusion will arrive this fall and will offer hybrid buyers two choices that sets the Fusion apart from the hybrid versions of the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata. The first option is the Fusion hybrid that’s powered by a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and an electric motor with lithium-ion batteries for a combined output of 185 horsepower. Ford expects the Fusion hybrid to get up to 47 mpg in the city.
The second option is the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, which is powered by the same 185 horsepower system, but will get the equivalent of 100 mpg (MPGe). Fans of the Chevy Volt will notice that the Fusion Energi beats it by at least 8 MPGe. Both Fusion hybrids are wrapped in the 2013 Fusion’s new sexier body that draws styling cues from the EVOs concept car.
BMW is also getting into the hybrid game with hybrid versions of its 3 and 5 Series sedans, named the ActiveHybrid3 and ActiveHybrid5. Both hybrids are pretty much identical to the non-hybrid versions on the outside and they are powered by twin-turbocharged 3.0L six-cylinder engines and electric motors with a total output of 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. They can drive up to 2.5 miles on electricity alone and it only takes 5.7 seconds for the ActiveHybrid5 to reach 0-60 mph. BMW announced that the 2012 ActiveHybrid5 will start at $61,845 when it arrives at dealers this March. BMW hasn’t announced the pricing for the ActiveHybrid3, which arrives this fall.
Volkswagen will release its second hybrid model, the Jetta Hybrid this fall. The 2013 Jetta Hybrid was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show and will be the most fuel-efficient Jetta available. The Jetta Hybrid retains the styling from the gas and diesel-powered Jetta models, which is a good thing for Jetta fans and hybrid shoppers that aren’t fans of the shape of the Toyota Prius. The Jetta Hybrid features a turbocharged 150-hp 1.4L engine that’s mated to a 27-hp electric motor and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Volkswagen estimates that the Jetta Hybrid will have a combined fuel economy rating of 45 mpg and it can reach 0-60 mph in nine seconds.
Volvo has yet to offer a hybrid model in North America, but that’s about to change. Volvo gave us a preview of a plug-in hybrid version of the XC60 crossover, in concept form. The XC60 plug-in hybrid concept is propelled by a 280 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends its power to the front wheels, while the rear wheels are powered by a 70 horsepower electric motor. Drivers can select between three driving modes: Pure, Hybrid or Power. Volvo clams that in Hybrid mode the XC60 plug-in hybrid has a combined fuel economy rating of 50 mpg, and in Power mode (the most powerful setting), the XC60 can reach 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Volvo hasn’t announced an exact release date, but it’s expected to arrive in two years.
In the 1990’s Honda proved that Japan had what it took to compete with the world’s best supercars with the Acura NSX. The mid-engine two-seater was unlike anything ever released by Honda. It featured an aluminum body and was the first Honda to feature Honda’s VTEC variable valve timing system. It was produced from 1990-2005, but now seven years after the last NSX was built, the NSX is slated to return!
Honda unveiled an NSX concept at the Detroit Auto Show that is a preview of the next NSX. This time rather than just featuring a mid-engine V6 engine, the next-generation NSX will be powered by a hybrid powertrain. Honda has announced plans for a new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) hybrid system. The system will employ a next-generation 3.5L VTEC V6 with direct-injection mated to a dual clutch transmission with a built-in electric motor that will send its power to the rear wheels, while two electric motors will send negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering.
Looks like the days of slow, ugly, and boring to drive hybrids are numbered!