By Aaron Turpen
Our robust and open market for automobiles means that if you have your heart set on a specific type of car, there’s probably someone making one. Most recently, the surge in “green cars” has been huge. By “green” cars we don’t mean ones that use recycled components, but we are instead defining the term strictly from a fuel efficiency point of view. In the 1970s, the idea of an affordable, fuel-efficient car became popular during the oil crunch. Since then, fuel efficiency has been an on-again, off-again ideal that has recently gained more traction as gasoline prices continue climbing upward.
Up until now, though, the term “green car” has usually been perceived as being synonymous with “boring” and “slow.” For car enthusiasts, there were only two types of green cars on the road: those that look funny and those that you passed by as they puttered along the highway. This has changed, of course, and today, there are not only well-designed green cars for fuel efficiency, but fuel efficient green cars for performance lovers. Some cars are very green without going hybrid, electric or diesel, of course, but most performance cars are not necessarily fuel efficient as a rule.
In today’s political climate, automakers are looking towards both the public relations and legal compliance credibility that green cars can give them. Even the makes that are most well-known for performance above all else, fuel usage be damned, are now producing green cars. Nameplates like Porsche, Ferrari, and McLaren now include hybrids in their mix.
If you’re a car lover who loves to drive – either for sport cruising or all-out performance – but are interested in saving fuel and perhaps being a little more green to the environment… well, you’re in luck. Here are some green cars for enthusiasts. Most of the green cars for enthusiasts listed below are available either new or used. Listed here in alphabetical order by manufacturer:
We start our list with a serious supercar from an automaker most well known for the term. The LaFerrari was introduced in 2013 and only 499 of the cars will be built. Although the first has yet to be delivered, the car’s price tag of $1.7 million (give or take) is daunting. This car has the highest output of any Ferrari in history but has 40 percent less fuel consumption than its nearest V12 in the Ferrari lineup. It utilizes the KERS mild hybrid system perfected in Formula One and GT racing.
Although limited in production and market, the 500e is an all-electric Fiat based on the popular and sporty Abarth platform. It is a fun, well-balanced little car with a great European look.
Ford Focus Electric
The Focus ST is a popular compact sports car from Ford. The Focus Electric takes the handling characteristics of the ST and electrifies them. This adds more weight to the car, but lowers its center of gravity even further while boosting off-the-line performance output. This makes for a very thrilling little car that, while it’s not a track-ready monster, is one of the most unexpectedly fun drives you can experience.
Honda CR-Z Hybrid
Often overlooked, the Honda CR-Z Hybrid is a gasoline-electric version of the cult favorite CR-Z. It keeps the CR-Z’s unusual hatchback design but adds an electric motor and battery to the gasoline powertrain to boost both performance and fuel economy. The manual transmission offering is icing on the performance lover’s cake.
This is another limited-production supercar, this time from McLaren. The company is building this car as a plug-in hybrid after its conceptual debut in 2012. Most famously, car guys like Jay Leno have lined up to get their McLaren P1 from the factory. The sleek two-door coupe has a total power output of 916 PS and has a 0-62 miles per hour time of only 2.8 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph.
Porsche 918 Spyder
Not to be left out of the green car loop, Porsche began producing the 918 Spyder in 2013 for the 2014 model year. This hybrid supercar uses a unique belt-less engine and two electric motors, which together output 887 horsepower. The 0-62 time for this Porsche is a mere 2.6 seconds.
Tesla Model S
The Model S is the flagship of the Tesla Motors line of future cars. It’s a high-priced sedan with a lot of innovation and green credibility. Its electric motors will propel the car to sixty miles per hour in supercar time (generally under 6 seconds, even for marginal drivers) and its low weight distribution gives it a road presence unrivaled by other vehicles. The Model S is more than a car for many of its owners, it’s a lifestyle.
The predecessor to the Model S, the Tesla Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise. Although production has ended, there is a thriving market of enthusiasts for this car and on the rare occasion a Roadster shows up for sale, it rarely lasts long. These cars were small, efficient, and very, very fast.
Volkswagen Golf TDI
One of several diesel offerings in the Volkswagen Group (which includes Audi and others), the Golf TDI is perhaps the most-recognized sporty car in the automaker’s lineup. It is a fun, well-built little car with more speed and performance than many would expect. The new 2015 rendition continues and enhances those attributes.
More Than Expected
Although the performance car category is small to begin with, the green performance car category is becoming a larger part of it. From attainable fun to dreamy supercar, a green car exists for every enthusiast at this point. Rumors in the industry abound, of course, but it’s speculated that one of the famous Detroit muscle cars may also soon see the green treatment.
Featured image by David van der Mark via Flickr cc.