There’s never been a better time to embrace change so take a look at some of these exciting hybrid models launching into the luxury market
The motor industry is changing rapidly thanks to the demands of both new government legislation and consumers who are actively looking for a more eco-conscious solution on the road. Manufacturers across the board are producing new ranges of cars in response. 2019 alone has seen the Audi e-tron, Merecedes-Benz EQC and the Mini Electric, among others, come to market. But there are also some great luxury hybrid cars out there, and here is our pick of the best.
Lexus UX 250h
Lexus launched its new compact SUV, the UX, in March, designed for the modern “urban explorer”. The hybrid-only range is equipped with a new fourth generation Lexus self-charging hybrid powertrain, as well as the Lexus Safety System+ as standard on all UK versions.
The UX is the first Lexus to be constructed using the new Global Architecture – Compact (GA-C) platform. A lightweight yet super-rigid structure, extremely low centre of gravity and refined suspension tuning giving exemplary handling agility and ride comfort, and a distinctive driving character.
The self-charging hybrid powertrain features multiple new components, including the 2.0-litre petrol engine, hybrid transaxle, compact battery and power control unit. The UX has a very responsive drive and, like all Lexus hybrids, it offers better fuel efficiency and lower emissions than other petrol or diesel vehicles in its class.
It also requires no plugging in for recharging and has no issues where driving range is concerned. In real world city driving it can use electric power for a significant proportion of every journey – up to 55 per cent, depending on the driving conditions.
The UX’s hybrid system couples a new 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder engine with two electric motor/generators in a new generation hybrid transaxle that is more compact, lighter and has less internal friction than previous Lexus hybrid systems. The Power Control Unit (PCU) is more powerful yet is 20 per cent smaller and 10 per cent lighter. The new, compact and lightweight nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery and compact cooling system are located below the rear seat, which helps give the vehicle its low centre of gravity.
The UX 250h is available with either front-wheel drive or E-Four electric all-wheel drive. The E-Four all-wheel drive system uses a separate, dedicated high-torque electric motor integrated into the rear differential. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is automatically optimised by the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system when accelerating, cornering, or driving on slippery surfaces.
The exterior design combines strength with refinement and is stylish yet functional. Highlight features include a spindle grille – a signature feature of all Lexus models – featuring a new mesh pattern; five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels on the entry-level UX model have an aero-ventilating design; and there are 12 exterior colours available in the UK, including three developed specifically for the model: Terrane Khaki, Celestial Blue and, exclusive to the F Sport, Blazing Carnelian.
Inside, Lexus designed the UX’s cabin to evoke the feel of a dynamic, luxury saloon, but with the higher seating position and versatility that are required of an SUV. The materials and finish are pure Lexus, combining Japanese traditions in craftsmanship and hospitality with innovative production techniques. Designers have created a refined cabin atmosphere, with subtle, integrated LED lighting. And the Lexus Remote Touch Interface (standard with the 10.3-inch Lexus Navigation) is designed to feel as familiar to use as a smartphone and provides haptic feedback to the user.
The new Lexus UX is available now in three equipment grades: UX, F Sport and Takumi. Prices start from £29,900 OTR. Visit Lexus Stoke, Gordon Banks Dr, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 4FD to find out more.
BMW i8 Roadster
The 2+2-seater BMW i8 Roadster launched in mid-2018 combining emissions-free and high-performance motoring with roof-down driving. The roof comprises a high-quality, all-season fabric soft-top with high-level soundproofing. And an all-electric operation ensures the roof opens or closes almost silently within 15 seconds and while travelling at up to 31mph.
It’s powered by a hybrid synchronous electric motor and a three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The engine’s power is fed to the rear wheels through a six-speed Steptronic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox. The end result is a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that glues the car to the road.
However, to enhance low emissions running and overall performance the number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car has been significantly increased. By contrast, the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard and is switched off again more frequently with a measured driving style.
Underpinning its improved emission-free range is an updated version of the i8’s lithium-ion battery. The high-voltage unit is located centrally under the car, and its cell capacity is increased from 20 to 34Ah. All of which means the motor has more energy at its disposal. Plus, the cell configuration allows a 12hp increase in peak output to 143hp. The improved technology means the i8 Roadster can cover up to 33 miles with zero emissions, broadening the reach of all-electric mobility well beyond the city limits.
The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, the BMW i8 Roadster is capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 65mph purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero emissions not just in town, but on country roads as well.
Combined fuel consumption, as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, stands at 141.2mpg– which equates to petrol CO2 emissions of 46g/km– plus 14.5kWh of electricity.
The new i8 Roadster is supplied with a mode 2 charging cable as standard, enabling the high-voltage battery to be recharged from a standard domestic socket in under four-and-a-half hours. The new mode 3 cable can also be used to hook up the car to a public charging point for high-power charging.
E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic have been added to the choice of exterior paint finishes available, individualising the BMW i8 Roadster. It is also equipped with exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels in a W-spoke design. Customers can also choose from another three light-alloy wheel variants with the same dimensions.
The BMW i8 Roadster is on sale now with prices starting from £124,735 OTR
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