We’ve come a long way from exploring the idea of cars that run on batteries to having legislation that supports this endeavour. In due time, we hope to see charging stations as often as we see tea stalls, but that could take some time. This, being a deterrent, hasn’t stopped auto enthusiasts from stepping into the world of electrics.
Hybrids are the new favourites on the block.With leading automobile brands finding merit in the benefits of hybrid vehicles, we have several options out there. These cars blend in performance, space, style, and most importantly, an evolved sense of eco-consciousness. Recent hikes in fuel prices have also given the erstwhile ‘guzzlers’ a bad rep and it only makes sense to invest in a car that could get you through the rest of your life without having to visit a fuelling station. It can safely be assumed that hybrids will rule the roost until there are wider adoptions of charging stations in residential and commercial areas. Here are the best hybrids you could drive home, today.
India isn’t accustomed to luxury MPVs yet, but the Toyota Vellfire makes itself comfortable here with its hybrid configuration. The 5m-long Vellfire takes the universe of the unrivalled Innova by storm. It is bold and stylish on the outside, making it anything but boxy, which gives the interiors a tough task to live up to. But when you give auto interiors enough space, there’s no end to the plushness that can be packed in.
In this case, it’s recliner seats. We could be asking for too much when we wish for massaging seats but that’s okay. Everything inside, including the sliding doors, is controlled electronically. The 17-speaker JBL configuration can set the mood right in the cabin.
It comes with a 2.5-litre petrol engine that produces 115bhp and 198Nm of torque, which combines with the 105kW motor on the front axle and a 50kW motor on the rear axle to produce 194bhp. As you get more demanding, the default electric configuration switches to petrol without you even noticing the difference.
Power: 115.32bhp@4700rpm / 198nm@2800-4000rpm
Top speed: 180 kmph
Transmission: Automatic 4WD
0-100kmph: 8.5 seconds
Price: Rs89.87 lakh
A Lexus always holds its own. When it comes to looks and luxury, the Lexus tops this list with its spindle grille and the LED daytime running lights. On the inside it is wrapped with fine leather, with the bulk of the controls surrounding the drive, simulating a cozy, spacious cockpit. The battery is located under the seat in this one too, which seems to be the way to be. The ES300H is powered by a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine that supplements the electric powertrain. It produces 178hp and 221Nm of torque.
Once combined with the electric motor, it can bump up to 218hp and run at an impressive fuel efficiency of 22.37kmpl. The cabin is quiet in the battery mode and the infotainment system is good enough to have all the occupants spoilt for choice. There’s ample legroom to be enjoyed in the ES300H with all the creature comforts you could expect from a Lexus. The suspension is so good that the ES300H feels like it is silently gliding over the battered roads as you conquer new destinations.
Power: 176bhp @5700rpm/221Nm @3600rpm
Top speed: 232kmph
Transmission: E-CVT automatic FWD
0-100kmph: 6.8 seconds
Price: Rs61.72 lakh
Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
Many a lip were smacked when Porsche entered the Indian hybrid game because they placed an SUV in the sea of sedans. The Cayenne’s E-Hybrid persona has been well-received. Retaining the classic Cayenne essence on the outside, the interiors are classic Porsche too, with analog dials on the controls and a contrasting 12.3-inch digital touchscreen console with stunning resolution and minimal buttons. The E-Hybrid impresses with a pure electric range of 44km after charging for a little under 8 hours. You can reach top speeds of 135kmph in this mode and can accelerate from 0-100 in 6.3 seconds, which is commendable. One can never get over the idea of an SUV that’s completely silent.
The 3-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine combines with the electric and produces 455.5bhp and 700Nm of torque. This lethal combination makes the E-Hybrid agile, topping speeds of 253kmph and going from 0-100kmph in a jaw-dropping 5 seconds. You can up the ante with the Sports Chrono package that helps you measure laps and gives your ride the necessary performance and cosmetic bumps. The agility isn’t only reflected through the speed barriers you smash but also through the way the SUV behaves on turns with its highly responsive steering and close control.
Power: 340bhp@5300-6400rpm/ 450Nm@1340-5300rpm
Top speed: 253kmph
Transmission: 8 Speed automatic AWD
0-100kmph: 5 seconds
Price: Rs 1.59 cr
BMW 745 Le
As is with all 7 Series BMW sedans, the 745 Le is an absolute unit of luxury and performance. It was the first plug-in hybrid car to be launched in India. What sets a plug-in hybrid apart is the size of the battery, which is smaller than a pure electric car. The 745 Le has an 8-speed transmission and is powered by an in-line 6-cylinder petrol engine that produces 238bhp and 450Nm of torque and a 12kWh battery that is positioned under the rear seats. One would expect the weight of both configurations to reduce the agility of the car but it can go from 0-100 kmph in just 5.1 seconds. The 745 Le is a silent saloon once you’re in the full-electric mode. You can cover 50 kilometres in this mode but the speed is limited to 110kmph.
As soon as you switch to the hybrid mode, it builds upon the electric powertrain, dynamically switching to the petrol engine when you need more power. In the Sport mode, the roles are reversed and the battery complements the engine power. It’s fantastic for a drive with the family that loves to chat or groove to their tunes. You could easily conduct a business meeting in this one without anyone realising you’re on the road.
Power: 281.6bhp@5000-6000rpm / 450Nm@1380-5000rpm
Top speed: 250kmph
Transmission: 8 Speed automatic AWD
0-100kmph: 5.3 seconds
Price: Rs1.69 cr