Hip Hybrids

7 min read
Battery-assisted cars are almost ubiquitous on the roads today. Here are three to consider for varying budgets

1. VOLVO S60 RECHARGE

Volvo’s aim for 2025 is to have half of its vehicle sales coming from fully electric cars, and the other half from hybrids — lofty goals that speak well of the Swedish brand’s eco-conscious efforts.

The Volvo S60 Recharge, launched in January this year, is an incredibly capable and refined entry point for Volvo that also spearheads the brand’s vision. Volvo’s Recharge Plug-in Hybrid cars are equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that drives the cars at low speeds. The hybrid battery can easily be charged through a charging port at home or at a charging station. Alternatively, the electric motor’s engine brake converts the car’s kinetic energy to electrical energy during light braking to charge the hybrid battery, and is functional at all speeds.

The car is powered by a revolutionary 2.0-litre T8 Twin Engine — Volvo’s plug-in hybrid technology that combines both a chargeable electric motor and a petrol engine. The supercharged and turbocharged vehicle puts out an effortless 402bhp of power (combined), and the electric energy bumps combined torque up to 640Nm — most impressive for a four-door sedan.

Drivers have several modes they can engage, depending on their needs and fancies: ‘Pure’ uses only electric power; ‘ECO’ provides an optimal combination of electric motor and petrol engine; ‘Power’ affords a sportier feeling through programmed pedal response; ‘Hybrid’ uses the electric motor and combustion engine to maximise efficiency while minimising emissions; ‘All-Wheel Drive’ offers increased traction in slippery conditions; and ‘Individual’ lets you tweak various aspects of the driving experience to meet personal preferences.

The exterior of the S60 Recharge is a sleek iteration of the popular sedan from Volvo. The muscular shoulders in the rear, long bonnet, and deep-set bumpers highlight its design intent, while the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights and 19-inch, five triple-spoke matte black diamond cut wheels more than hints of its dynamism.This being a Volvo, you can expect the safety features to be top-notch. ‘City Safety’ combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios. The feature now also engages auto braking to mitigate oncoming collisions. This innovation can detect vehicles heading towards you on the wrong side of the road. If a collision cannot be avoided, it will brake automatically to help reduce the impact and effect of a collision.

‘IntelliSafe Surround’ comprises Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Cross Traffic Alert and rear collision warning with braking at standstill. ‘Cross Traffic Alert’ warns of pedestrians behind the car when reversing, and ‘Rear Collision Warning System’ helps to prevent that most common of accidents.Inside, the S60 Recharge’s infotainment system — Sensus — is operated through the nine-inch portrait-oriented touch screen and comprises car functions, navigation, connected services, and in-car apps such as Spotify and Tunein. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come standard. The premium Harmon Kardon sound system completes a package that makes this car one of the best performing — and safest — hybrid sedans around.

PRICE  $249,000 (WITH COE, INCLUSIVE OF CHARGING STATION AND A CHOICE OF $1,000 IN CHARGING CREDITS OR RENEWABLE ENERGY CERTIFICATES)
ENGINE  1,969CC PLUG-IN HYBRID WITH 4-CYLINDER, SUPERCHARGED AND TURBOCHARGED T8 TWIN ENGINE
TRANSMISSION  8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
POWER  402BHP (COMBINED)
TORQUE  640NM
0–100KM/H  4.4 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  WEARNES AUTOMOTIVE PTE LTD (Tel: 6473 1488)

2. MERCEDES-BENZ E300E

Saving on fuel and cutting emissions don’t have to come without the finer elements of driving. The new Mercedes-Benz E300e plug-in hybrid is a case in point.

The hybrid extends the E Class offerings to those wanting to make a difference to the environment. With a combined fuel consumption of 2.1 litres/100km, combined CO2 emissions of 116g/km, and combined electrical consumption of 16.8kWh/100km, the E300e takes a step forward in battling climate change.The E300e electric motor in the hybrid traction head of the 9G-TRONIC 9-speed transmission now has an EQ Power of 90kW and delivers 440Nm of torque from a standing start. When the four-cylinder combustion engine and electric motor are working in unison, the transmission sends an electronically limited peak torque of 700Nm to the rear axle — that is some serious pulling power for what seems like an innocuous four-door sedan.

Mercedes-Benz’s engineers have proven that all that power doesn’t need to come from a big battery. The high-voltage battery in the E-Class takes up the same amount of space but has a far greater energy content of 13.5kWh due to its modified cell chemistry. With a water-cooled on-board charger that has a capacity of 7.4kW, the battery can be charged from 10% to 100% in about an hour-and-a-half at a newly introduced Wallbox, if the full power is used. The same is possible in around five hours even at a conventional domestic power socket.

Naturally, drivers have a variety of experiences from which to choose. There are five driving programmes and four operating modes, allowing the powertrain management strategy to be adapted both to the driver’s requirements and to the on-board energy supplies. In ‘Economy’ or ‘Comfort’, efficiency is at its highest as camera, radar sensors, and the navigation system work together in harmony.

The powertrain management takes account of the topography, route and traffic situation to calculate precisely when it is best for the driver to come off the accelerator, when and how often the transmission should change gear to save fuel and maximise the range of the electric drive, and how the operating temperature of all major components needs to be controlled to negotiate the next uphill gradient efficiently.

The ECO Assist provides hints on the display in front of the driver and uses a resistance point on the accelerator pedal so that the driver intuitively knows how much acceleration is needed to minimise operation of the combustion engine.

The third-generation plug-in hybrid E300e follows where the E350e left off, and continues Mercedes-Benz’s march towards more sustainable vehicles for the future of motoring.

PRICE  $309,888 (WITH COE)
ENGINE  1,991CC 4-CYLINDER IN-LINE PETROL ENGINE, PLUG-IN HYBRID
TRANSMISSION  9G-TRONIC AUTOMATIC
POWER  320HP
TORQUE  700NM
0–100KM/H  5.7 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  CYCLE & CARRIAGE (Tel: 6206 1818)

3. HYUNDAI KONA HYBRID 1.6

Hyundai’s new KONA Hybrid follows the footsteps of the award-winning KONA Electric, which won the Greenest Car in Switzerland title at the 2019 Swiss Car Awards. The new hybrid continues the Korean brand’s reach into the electrified car market around the world.Two variants are available in Singapore: KONA Hybrid and KONA Hybrid Sunroof. Whichever you choose, the car comes with a full range of features, including ‘SmartSense’ safety systems and state-of-the-art infotainment that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

At the heart of the KONA Hybrid sits the Kappa 1.6-litre GDI, a direct-injection petrol four-cylinder engine providing maximum power of 105PS and 147Nm of torque. Its permanent magnet synchronous electric motor delivers 43.5PS with maximum torque of 170Nm. Alongside this, the 1.56kWh lithium ion polymer battery delivers outstanding charge and discharge performance, optimising output from the high-voltage battery and allowing for rapid regeneration. The powertrain offers a total combined output of 130hp and up to 265Nm of torque.

Performance and efficiency aside, the car boasts smart lines highlighted by full LED twin headlamps. There are 10 colours to choose from and two newly designed alloy wheels — 16-inch for the Hybrid and 18-inch for the Hybrid Sunroof.What really impresses are the safety features that come with SmartSense. These include ‘Front Collision Warning and Avoidance Assist’ with pedestrian and cyclist detection ability; and the new ‘Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go’ that uses the front radar sensor to maintain constant speed and distance through automatic braking. If traffic comes to a halt, the Stop & Go system applies the brake until the car comes to a standstill and accelerates to the desired speed as soon as the road is clear.‘Blind-Spot Collision Warning’, ‘Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning’, ‘Driver Attention Warning’ and ‘Lane Keeping Assist’ also come standard. In Singapore’s start-stop traffic condition, customers will appreciate the new ‘Leading Vehicle Departure Alert System’ that automatically senses the departure of the leading vehicle, and will sound an alert to inform the driver that the front vehicle has moved off. ‘High Beam Assist’ rounds out the suite of Hyundai SmartSense features that make the car one of the safest on the road to drive.

PRICE  $118,999 (WITH COE)
ENGINE  1,580CC KAPPA ATKINSON GDI
TRANSMISSION  6-SPEED DUAL CLUTCH
POWER  130HP (COMBINED)
TORQUE  265NM
0–100KM/H  11.2 SECONDS FOR 16-INCH TYRE; 11.6 SECONDS FOR 18-INCH
DISTRIBUTOR  KOMOCO MOTORS (Tel: 6475 8888)