It seems like just a short while ago the term “luxury hybrid” wasn’t even in the automotive lexicon. Do a quick scan of current manufacturer models for 2014, however, and you’ll notice that there are more than a few options in virtually every class. Fancy an eco-friendly sedan? Lincoln has you covered with the MKZ Hybrid. Need the versatility of an SUV? Infiniti now offers the QX60 in hybrid form. Want a sports car without sports car fuel costs? Porsche recently released its first plug-in, the Panamera S E-Hybrid. You get the picture. Here, we explore these three luxury vehicles in greater detail.
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
The nearly 100-year-old Lincoln Motor Company has been experiencing a renaissance of late, re-inventing the brand and trying to attract a new, younger demographic. The Lincoln MKZ has been instrumental in that effort, with the hybrid building on the success of its gasoline-primary sibling. At its core is a 2.0-litre Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine mated to an 88-kilowatt electric motor producing a combined 188 horsepower, compared to 240 or 300 horsepower on the conventional version. The Hybrid receives the same optional packages as the rest of the MKZ lineup, such as the Premiere Package that includes LED headlamps and the SYNC with MyLincoln Touch infotainment technology—the latter favours touchscreen and voice recognition controls over physical audio and climate buttons. Lincoln Drive Control is also available, a system utilizing onboard sensors to automatically adjust ride settings according to road conditions to provide optimal comfort.
Infiniti QX60 Hybrid
New for this year, the QX60 Hybrid crossover marks the third hybrid to join the Infiniti fleet alongside the Q70 and Q50 sedans. (The gas-powered model was originally introduced last year as the JX35, but has been renamed to keep congruent with current nomenclature that has seen all vehicles rebranded with either the letter Q for sedans or QX for SUVs.) With three rows of quilted leather seating, it can easily accommodate up to seven passengers, and access to the back bench is easy thanks to a strap you can pull that slides the middle section forward. A DVD player with dual screens behind the front seats keep passengers occupied for long trips. The Hybrid is advertised as having fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometers, a 24 per cent improvement over the non-hybrid models, but real-world testing yielded a number closer to 11.9 litres per 100 kilometers. Power is generated via a 2.5-litre supercharged engine and 15-kilowatt electric motor, connected to a continuously variable transmission, producing an estimated net 250 horsepower.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
Porsche has been busy this year, adding three new variants of the Panamera luxury sports sedan alone. One of those is the S E-Hybrid, the first plug-in hybrid introduced by the German carmaker, easily distinguishable from the other Panameras by its massive neon-coloured brake calipers. Don’t mistake its green tendency for sluggishness—this partially-electric vehicle with a combined output of 416 horsepower will storm to 100 km/h in just over five seconds and has a top speed of 269 km/h. A large lithium-ion battery allows for a travel range of up to approximately 32 kilometres on electricity alone in E-Power mode before the internal combustion engine kicks in, although, that range can decrease drastically if you drive aggressively. Recharging is as simple as plugging the Porsche Universal Charger into a standard household 120-volt household outlet, and a full charge can be reached in about two and a half hours if you have access to a 240-volt power source.