2013 Auto Show: How do you make a hybrid fun? Turbocharge it
The Cadillac ELR Concept appears at the Canadian International Auto Show. (Bill Wang/CTVNews.ca)
Published Sunday, February 17, 2013 7:00AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 17, 2013 7:45AM EST
This year, at the 2013 Canadian International Auto Show, many auto manufacturers appear to be focusing on fuel economy, and getting to the elusive 1.4L/100km economy target.
Each manufacturer unveiled either a new fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle, or a new means to get more out of the traditional engine.
Nissan redesigned its Versa Hatch, rebranding it the Versa Note and making it one of the company’s most fuel efficient non-hybrid/non-electric vehicles in the lineup.
To achieve this, Nissan is using an in-house fuel efficiency package called Pure Drive, which is designed to give the car low CO2 emissions and great fuel economy.
With its new CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and a single 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine, Nissan says that the Versa Note will get an estimated 40 mpg on the highway. They’ve also improved the car’s design for less wind resistance.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen is going a different route. The German automaker is deciding that hybrids can be fun, so it’s sticking a turbocharger in one.
Rather than just going the traditional route that Chevrolet did with the Cruze (which uses a smaller engine and a small turbocharger added for extra power), VW put a turbocharged hybrid engine in its new Jetta.
This being the company’s first hybrid in its fleet, VW decided to pull out all the stops. Not only did they design it with less wind resistance, they also put a 7-speed DSG (dual-clutch gearbox) in it, giving the car the fun of a manual ‘box, but the ease of an automatic.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4-litre 4-cylinder gasoline engine that pumps out 150 hp, paired up with a 25 hp electric motor, which can run in pure electric mode at 70km/h.
But that’s not all from VW. As a sign of things to come, it unveiled an AWD concept crossover called the Cross Coupe.
The concept uses VW’s familiar TDI diesel engine, combined it with a plug-in hybrid system. Volkswagen says that the concept SUV can sip fuel at a rate of 1.8L/100km.
Chrysler, meanwhile, seems to think a bigger engine isn’t necessarily the worst thing. The American automaker unveiled the new Grand Cherokee, and announced that it will once again offer a diesel engine in this SUV, beginning this spring.
Chrysler says the diesel Grand Cherokee will be able to travel 100 km on 7.1 litres of fuel. This means that it could travel 1,300 km on a single tank of fuel, in theory.
Many companies seem to be going rolling out extended range vehicles. Honda is one of them, unveiling a plug-in hybrid version of its award-winning Accord.
The 2014 Accord PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is going to be powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine which produces 137 hp, paired up with a 124-kilowatt electric motor.
This sedan is expected to get more than 100 mpg-e, and will be able to run on its electric motor for 20 – 28 km. That means that Honda is hoping it will achieve 1.6L/100km.
Ford, meanwhile, is still going strong with its EcoBoost engines. The blue oval`s latest and greatest is a 1-litre 3-cylinder engine which will be sitting in the all new Ford Fiesta.
Already fun to drive, the new Fiesta will be able to go even further on its small tank of gas than previous models.
Cadillac, meanwhile, is giving Canadians a first look at its new ELR. The sister car to GM`s already successful Chevrolet Volt, the ELR has a full driving range of 480 km using both the electric and gas motors.
This Caddy is also the first in the brand`s lineup to offer paddle shifters, letting drivers change the gears when they want to.
But unlike other paddle shifters on hybrids, the ELR`s transmission will also take extra power from the downshift and transfer it into the batteries for storage.
BMW unveiled two “i” series concept cars: the all-new i3 concept and the evolving i8 concept.
The i3 is the first concept car that is purposely built as an electric vehicle – meaning that there are no parts from any other cars in it. It`s also completely built from carbon fiber – a first for a production vehicle.
Like many other electric vehicles, the i3 has a limited range of only 160 km, but BMW says it`ll only take three hours to charge from empty.
Something else to note – the i3 concept is 99 per cent recyclable, and BMW is hoping, once they get a production model ready, to make it 100 per cent recyclable.
The i8 is a plug-in hybrid that can do just under 3L/100km, and travel 35 km on just electric power alone.
With the price of gas edging higher these days, it’s good to see that manufacturers are looking at alternative ways to save on costs, but not sacrifice on fun or practicality that drivers have come to expect from their vehicles. It will be interesting to see what’s to come next year.