NEWPORT BEACH, CA - Road and Track has put together a list of the 10 new cars to look for that will boost fuel economy without sacrificing the fun factor:
1. Audi R8 TDI Le Mans: Audi jammed a 500-bhp V-12 diesel into this concept. However, it appears the V-12 is a no-go because it’s hard to package. But, a V-8 diesel may be in the works promising mega-mileage and mega-fun.
2. Chevrolet Volt: Chevy is preparing to offer its first plug-in hybrid, the Volt, as early as 2010. The system provides electric-only operation up to 40 miles before switching on a small turbocharged 1.0L three-cylinder engine to charge the front-drive hatchback’s hybrid battery. In this mode, Chevy promises equivalent fuel economy of 50 mpg and the ability to accelerate to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds.
3. Fisker Karma: When shown for the first time in Detroit earlier this year, company founder Henrik Fisker promised that deliveries of the hybrid sedan will begin by the fourth quarter of next year. Fisker promises his $80,000 hybrid, which uses a small engine together with the vehicle’s electric power, will have 0–60-mph acceleration of 6.0 sec. and a top speed of 125 mph.
4. Honda CR-Z: Honda’s CR-Z is a front-engine, front-drive CR-Z to market as part of its new hybrid lineup.
5. Hyundai Genesis Coupe: This rear-drive coupe features a V-6 making 300 bhp, and for the even more fuel-conscious, a turbocharged 2.0L four making 223 bhp. Adding to the fuel-efficient-yet-fun factor will be the availability of a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.
6. Kia Koup: Based on the subcompact Rio platform, the Koup is powered by a turbo-charged 2.0L with direct fuel injection that packs 290 bhp and 289 lb.-ft. of torque.
7. Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart: Mitsubishi’s 2009 Lancer Ralliart uses the same 4B11 2.0L 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder as the Lancer Evolution, but with a more modest 237 bhp and 253 lb.-ft. of torque. Like the Evo, the Ralliart will be fitted with full-time all-wheel drive and employ Mitsubishi’s Active Center Differential (ACD) and the new Twin Clutch-SST gearbox.
8. Porsche Panamera Hybrid: Even high-end entries, like the upcoming four-door Porsche Panamera, will be going green as evidenced by this hybrid version. While regular Panameras will be V-8-powered, the hybrid uses a 290-bhp V-6 teamed with a 34-kW electric motor generating 210 lb.-ft. of torque. Big boosts in fuel economy, as much as a 30-percent savings, are expected from the system’s electric-only mode.
9. Saab 9-X BioHybrid: This hatchback concept provides a glimpse of what a new entry-level Saab may look like. The transversely mounted turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder engine reaches its maximum output of 200 bhp when fueled with E-85 as opposed to its 170-bhp output on regular gasoline. Performance is further enhanced with an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack.
10. Toyota Compact Coupe: In a joint venture with Subaru, Toyota is developing a small rear-drive coupe, the spiritual successor to the AE86 Corolla. Powered by a fuel-efficient 1.5L four making about 120 bhp, the lightweight two-door promises fuel-efficient driving thrills.