Supercars go green

Ryan Borroff
FOR the last few years, the supercar brands largely ignored the move towards greener motoring. Instead they have continued to produce products and concepts that followed the traditional performance car development trajectory – they got faster, more powerful and generally more obnoxious. Only smaller carmakers including Koeniggsegg and Fisker Cars felt the need to experiment, even develop vehicles using alternative power.

This year, however, is different. At this month’s Geneva Motor Show, when the rest of the motoring world were displaying their latest cleaner, eco introductions, two of the leading sports car brands, Porsche and Ferrari, showed that they too were finally taking the greener future of motoring seriously. It seems that even sports car brands, not usually known to lose sleep over fuel economy, are feeling the pressure to reduce the environmental impact of their fleets and reduce carbon emissions.

Aston Martin introduced the most controversial vehicle in its history, the Cygnet, an expensively reskinned and retrimmed Toyota iQ city car aimed at Aston owners who choose – sensibly – not to commute to the city each day in their DB9s, DBSs or Vantages.

Conceived from the idea of an exclusive yacht and its tender, Aston Martin took the bold step to introduce what is, if nothing else, the world’s first truly luxurious production city car. Beginning at £30k a pop, AM’s Cygnet Concept gets a hand-crafted interior of leather and aluminium to entice wealthy existing AM owners that want a more practical runabout to pootle about in.

Yet in terms of surprises it was Porsche that trumped the opposition. By cleverly revealing its latest concept car the night before the first press day it dominated the news in terms of the eco angle, helped by the fact that it was also the most exciting introduction on the show floor.

Its magnificent 918 Spyder concept vehicle is notable for a host of reasons, not least of them that Porsche doesn’t do pure concept vehicles, in fact it has never built a concept vehicle that it hasn’t gone on to build. The concept, a plug-in hybrid mid-engined two-seater supercar is designed to be capable of a staggering 94mpg, should it ever make production. What’s more Porsche claim a 0-62mph time of just 3.2 seconds, trouncing its own 911 Turbo S, in theory at least.

Driving it quickly will surely affect the 70g/km of CO2 figures that the company gave but it’s an enticing idea nonetheless and the Spyder’s V8 engine should deliver more than 500bhp should Porsche ever open its order books. But even such technology and the promise of such advanced performance is secondary to the overwhelming truth of how staggeringly beautiful it is. Who knows, maybe Porsche will build it even without its eco engine?

Ten years ago few motoring hacks would have foreseen the introduction of the Porsche Cayenne, let alone an eco Ferrari. Yet last week they introduced an “experimental” hybrid 599, called HY-KERS. So confident were they in the car’s credentials it was even painted green. Tech-wise it uses a Kinetic Energy Recovery System that can retrieve and reuse energy normally lost during braking which Ferrari say one day all Ferraris could benefit from. Which is code for “don’t expect to see a hybrid Ferrari any time soon”. But then I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Porsche Cayenne…

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