It’s car show season, with Toronto’s own international auto show running until February 22. Here are six models, from Audi, BMW and others, that are pushing the realms of style, technology and fuel efficiency.
1 Acura NSX
In 1990, Honda debuted the Acura NSX but it was discontinued in 2005 – so a revival of the popular supercar caught media attention when it was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in January. In production for 2016, the hybrid vehicle will be powered by a V6 engine in combination with three electric motors.
2 Audi A3 e-Tron
Audi’s first plug-in hybrid will be available later this year, with a 50-kilometre electric-only range and an estimated fuel economy of 1.5 litres per 100 kilometres – which is tough to beat, unless you’re riding a scooter.
3 Audi TT Roadster/TT S Coupé
The third generation of the definitive sportster provides 230 horsepower – or 310 horses, in its S Coupé iteration – with a digital instrument cluster, or “virtual cockpit,” tucked behind the steering wheel, directly within the driver’s sightline. Along with the standard readings, the digital screen can display maps and “infotainment” features. For the 2016 generation, the body has been refined significantly and its interior (below) displays the meticulous details you would expect from an Audi.
The same virtual cockpit is also featured in the Audi Q7, a midsize crossover vehicle with considerable weight savings over the previous generation – resulting in 26 per cent more efficiency – as well as optional (and removable) “infotainment” tablets for rear passengers and, of course, all-wheel drive. The automaker continues to implement its best ideas across all of its models, with each year ushering in a few more surprises and innovations.
4 BMW i8
After entering the marketplace last year, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid continues to generate excitement, although with a base price well above $100,000. The auto show circuit is a great opportunity to get up close and see what the hype is about: supercar styling (including scissor doors), carbon-fibre construction and impeccable detailing, inside and out – which means the most style-conscious drivers can still be eco-friendly.
5 Mercedes-Benz C 350 Hybrid
Adding to its hybrid fleet, which includes the S 400 and E 400, Mercedes-Benz introduced the C 350 plug-in hybrid as part of its gradual roll-out of “no less than 10 models” with plug-in technology. Consuming 2.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, the C 350 provides efficient performance and accessible luxury. Later this year, the automaker will also offer the S 550 plug-in hybrid, an impressive 436-horsepower sedan.
6 Toyota Mirai
Understandably, the fuel cell vehicle that Toyota started producing last year is causing many people to rethink the future of transportation: a single tank of hydrogen can provide travel for almost 500 kilometres, with only water as the byproduct. For now, the Mirai – or “future,” in Japanese – will be offered on a limited basis, in Japan, Europe and California, but approximately 3,000 vehicles annually are planned for production by 2017. Whether hydrogen power is viable on a larger scale continues to be debated, however, due to the difficulty of producing and storing the gas.