Top 10 Progressive Sports Cars of the Future

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad
Cadillac's dramatic luxury coupe with extended-range electric vehicle technology. (08/17/2011)

Sports cars have often set the bar in new automotive technology and trends. Things like dual-clutch transmissions and forced induction engines were practically engineered for the sole purpose of taking a sports car to the absolute edge of excitement and danger.

That fact is still true, but now sports cars are bringing a substantially more responsible attitude towards the automotive world. We’re starting to witness a new generation of sports cars that are better for the environment, safer to drive and much more practical than ever before. We’ve put together a list of what we think are the top 10 progressive sports cars that have debuted, or will be making their official launch soon enough.

Cadillac ELR

Originally called the Converj, the Cadillac plug-in hybrid sports car shows that environmentally responsible cars don’t have to have a compromised appearance. Powered by the same powertrain as the Chevy Volt, the ELR isn’t about making the most radical luxury sports car, but one that is affordable and good looking.

Porsche Panamera

Take a drive in the Panamera and you’ll quickly forget that it seats four adults very comfortably. Yes, automakers have tried to make a four-door sports car before, but none could come close to the performance of the new Porsche Panamera. In one vehicle you can have a family sedan, sports car and now with the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, you can even experience all that while enjoying better fuel economy.

Infiniti Emerg-E Concept at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

Infiniti Emerg-E

Of course when Infiniti brings a sports car to the world, it has to do it in its own unique way. The brand’s first true sports car is previewed by the Emerg-E concept, which uses a mid-engine hybrid power plant to sprint to 60 mph in four seconds flat. The electric range is limited to just 30 miles, but after that a 3-cylinder gasoline engine works in tandem with the electric motors to provide a quick and sporty drive.

Acura NSX

The original NSX was progressive in its time with super-car beating looks and performance for less than super-car money, but this new one is really setting the bar high for the next generation of sports cars. With the new concept, Honda has gone searching to find the ultimate synergy between man and machine. How? By using a V6 engine placed in the middle of the car, that is assisted by three electric motors. Yes, three electric motors provide support to the NSX, which is optimized to provide extra torque and grip while cornering. This is all done through Acura’s SH-AWD system, something we’re counting on seeing in action very soon.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

Four electric motors help propel the all-wheel drive SLS AMG E-Cell to 60 mph in 4 seconds. But high-tech electronics isn’t the only progressive part of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-cell. Much of its performance is its light-weight body. By using a carbon fiber composite material, the SLS E-cell manages to stay sporty, even when bogged down with all the batteries that power those four electric motors. The use of new light weight materials will be a huge factor in the automotive industry going forward, and helps keep cars fuel efficient and sporty.

Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar just released details on its upcoming F-Type sports car. Two versions of Jaguars supercharged V6 engines that make more than 300 horsepower are expected in the upcoming sports car. The car was green-lit for production after a positive response to the company’s C-X16 concept car. An interesting thing to note is that the concept was shown off with a hybrid power train, so we expect that a hybrid version of the production F-type is in the works as well.

Audi R8 e-tron

We’re still drooling over Audi’s e-tron concept that was originally shown back in 2009, but it doesn’t help that there have been rumors of the car hitting production. The etron uses the already awesome R8 platform, but replaces the V8 and V10 engines with four electric motors — one for each wheel. This means that the R8 e-tron will hit 60mph in 4.2 seconds. Want some more insane statistics? The total power and torque numbers for the R8 e-tron come to 308 hp and 3,319 lb-ft of torque. If the Tesla didn’t give you a shock, maybe the R8 e-tron is the electric sports car you’re really looking forward to. The e-tron technology will also be making its way to other cars like the A3, and maybe a smaller R8.

Porsche 918 Spyder

For those not convinced that a hybrid power-train makes a pure sports car, maybe you should try listening to Porsche talk about its upcoming 918 Spyder. Yes, even Porsche has a hybrid super-car up its sleeve, and the 918 has a combined output of around 718 horsepower. All that power goes to all four wheels and comes from three electric motors assisting a big V8. Expectations for fuel economy numbers are around 78 mpg, making this quite the fuel-friendly super-car. The really progressive technology here is “push-to-pass” feature, which allows the driver to get an extra bit of boost from the cars electric engines for a short period of time.

Jaguar C-X75

The Jaguar C-X75 is another car that has been sent into production following positive showings during the auto show circuit. The really futuristic aspect of the C-X75 is that there will be a micro-turbine-engine powered model that will be used for race-track duty. With that micro-turbine technology working with the C-X75’s electric motors, Jaguar expects the vehicle to be one of the fastest cars ever with a 0-60 time under 3 seconds. It’s also expected to be one of the more environmentally responsible super-cars out there with an incredibly low CO2 output.

BMW i8

BMW has usually been pretty spot-on with its “ultimate driving machines” so when the company says its at work on a new plug-in hybrid sports car, the world took notice. Instead of relying solely on plug-in technology, the i8 also has a three-cylinder gas engine that powers the rear-wheels. This engine can work in tandem with the electric motor powering the front wheels and can help propel the i8 to a 0-60 time of under 5 seconds. The i8 also has a top speed that’s electronically governed at 150 mph. Some expect the BMW i8 to get at least 70 mpg, and both a coupe and spyder have been shown off at the latest auto shows. The i8 is also the flagship car for a new line of BMW products, like the BMW i3.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Evan Weber123 Evan Weber123 on Aug 13, 2012

    That Porsche 918 spyder looks SOOOO BEAST!!!! if only I was a millionaire :(

  • Fixer Fixer on Oct 14, 2012

    That guy "price" from one month an asshole and has minimal command of the English language. Why a fool.