Top 10 Hybrid / Electric Cars from the 2010 Paris Motor Show

Jaguar C-X75 Concept

Toyota Prius. Nissan LEAF. Renault Twizy. These are the kinds of electric and hybrid cars that can make even a crack-addicted cheetah fall asleep. They’re perfectly good for transporting people and they know just how a fir tree likes its neck nuzzled but for performance junkies they just don’t speak the same language. 

But do not fret. Put down the knife, unplug the toaster and get out of the bath tub, because manufacturers are beginning to realize green doesn’t have to be boring and ugly. The Paris Auto Show gave hope to all us enthusiasts out there that the fun doesn’t have to stop just because we ran out of dinosaurs to burn. We went through all the green, turqoise, electric, hybrid and scream-powered cars there and put together a list of the 10 most exciting, fun and promising eoc-friendly (-ish) cars at the event. 

Exagon Motors Furtive eGT

Exagon Motors Furtive eGT

The words “exciting car” and “France” get together as often as Sarah Palin and PETA, but the home team was on fire at the PMS this year. First up is the Furtive eGT from Exagon Motors. Unless you follow electric ice racing (who doesn’t!) you probably haven’t heard of Exagon. They build all-electric race cars that compete on ice for the Trophee Andros. No wonder this car (on paper) is so badass. Electric fun is what these guys do. After years making track-only cars, Exagon wanted to put their expertise in electric hooligan-worthy machines to street use.

Enter the Furtive eGT, a 2+2 GT car that is as good looking as any coupe on the road today, and is backed up by an incredible powerplant. It will be offered with either an electric-only or hybrid platform (A brilliant idea considering the common complaints about the range of electric-only vehicles). The electric only car has 125kW (340hp) and will hit 60mph in only 3.6 seconds. This is because all 480Nm of torque is available from 0 RPM. The range, of course, depends on your speed. At a constant speed of 50km/hr (31mph) it has a range of 249 miles. Crank it up to 80mph and the range drops to only 122 miles; as far as a turtle goes in a week.

To address this issue Exagon will offer the Furtive eGT with a “range extender” a fancy way to say “gas engine” that increases the range up to 500 miles. It’s like a Tesla Roadster with more seats, room, range and a prettier face. It’s built in France, so reliabillity could be an issue, but the engines are built by Siemens so even if the doors fall off and the dash explodes it will still get you to work. Personally I’d take this French import over cheese anyday.

Renault Dezir Concept

Renault Dezir Concept

Say what you want about underarm hygiene, the French know sexy. I present Aurelie Claudel as my favorite piece of evidence. Renault‘s all-electric concept, the Dezir, is no exception. It’s a radical design, and some of its features remind me of Mazda’s UFO-like Kizashi concept, but it has enough curve to keep it looking like it’s from earth. If the shape and menacing face aren’t enough to get your attention, it has some trick reverse-butterfly doors to make even the most dedicated NOPI nerd want a closer look.

The aggressive body might remind you a little of Audi’s e-tron, but the powerplant is actually quite practical. The all-electric powertrain only has 150hp and a mild 166lb ft. of torque. This might make you roll your eyes and say “next” but think about it, do we all need (and can we all afford) an electric supercar with 8,000hp and headlights made of diamond embryos? No. This has the face of a super exotic and the powertrain of a commuter. In the past I would call that false advertising, but if I was looking to spend Prius money on a car to get around town, I’d drive this over a Nissan Leaf any day of the weak. And it still hits 60 mph in under 5 seconds, so I’m betting it’s not a snooze-fest to drive. I thank Renault for proving sexy doesn’t have to be crazy fast or crazy expensive. People on a budget want to look good too.

Peugeot HR1 Concept

Peugeot Hr1 Concept

The Peugeot HR1 is what happens when you try to mix too many colors on your paper; you get brown. Puegot said they tried to combine elements of an SUV, a coupe and a city car. The result looks like a lifted Yaris hatchback that some 16 year old fitted with Koenigsegg style doors. I recently had a conversation with a colleague and we agreed that exotic things like “Lambo doors” or triple exhausts are only acceptable on exotic supercars. These things are flashy and unique, but you need to have a car with the appropriate testosterone to back up such a boisterous design. Doors like this on what looks like a two-door RAV4 come across as a cry for attention. This is a 12 year-old science fair winner, who has never been outside, that decides to get a mohawk.

Despite having zero plans to build this car, Puegot tells us it would have a 1.2 liter 3-cylinder turbo engine powering the front wheels, and a 37hp electric motor powering the rear, resulting in an impressive 67mpg. The interesting thing about this setup is the engines are not connected in any way, so it’s more of a twin-engined car than a hybrid. Two things about this car make me happy: 1) They’re not going to build it. Who needs a tiny SUV with 2 doors? Want lots of drag and no room to carry stuff? Buy an HR1! 2) At least companies are moving beyond the Prius-wedge that Honda all-but-traced with the Insight. It seemed like companies assumed because the Prius sold so well, every Hybrid had to look that way. They don’t (refer to the Furtive eGT).

Lotus Eterne Sedan Concept

Lotus Eterne Concept

This is one of our favorites from the Paris Motor Showl; the Lotus Eterne. First off it’s a Lotus, which means it will go, turn and stop fairly well. The Eterne would be a 4-door sedan, a new avenue for Lotus but one that visually suits them very well. It follows the path laid out by the Fisker Karma or Tesla S, a low, sleek coupe shape that happens to have room for 4. It’s a car that does its badge proud. In “stock” trim it will come with an absolutely intimidating 620hp V8 built by Toyota. 0-60mph takes 4 seconds flat and on a good stretch of Nevada highway you could hit 196mph. Lookout Panamera Turbo, there’s a new kid on the block that’s stronger and better looking.

The reason the Eterne is on this list is because of the hybrid “option”. Check that box and Lotus gives your sedan a system similar to the KERS found on new F1 cars. It stores the energy lost in braking to be used when the driver needs a little more cowbell. Not exactly a 70mpg wunderkins, but it means lower carbon emissions. Besides, this is a 4 door supercar that will tie a Fisker Karma to the flag-pole, so we weren’t exactly expecting it to nurse an over-heating polar bear on it’s teet. The Eterne is predicted to be available in 2015, which is plenty of time for you to raise the $190,000 needed to snag the keys.

Lotus Esprit Concept

Lotus Esprit Concept

The last Lotus Esprit was made in 2004. With a twin-turbo V8 it had plenty of fun behind the driver’s seat, but it was anything but easy to drive, and it’s reliability was of course questionable. But it had one of the best-looking shapes on the road, and turned heads throughout it’s life. It’s been on hiatus for a bit, but thie incredible concept has brought it back in full force. It looks like a Gallardo, but better. A true small supercar shape with all the right lines.

As fast as the last Esprit was, by 2004 it was out-matched by even a simple Corvette. The TT motor was capable of 500hp, but had to be de-tuned to 350 to save the transmission. Well the only Corvette that can compete with this one better have the letters “Z”, “R” and “1” on it. That’s right, this Esprit will have the same 620hp V8 as the Eterne. That means it’s going to be really, really, really fast. We’re talking SLR power in a Lotus! “Dear Jesus, Thank you so much for hearing my wishes…” And like the Eterne, the Esprit is here because it will also get the hippy version of NOS, a KERS system. If things go as planned, Lotus will be applying for its super car membership card very soon. I wonder if it will come with an LEV sticker…

Seat IBE Concept

Seat IBE concept

SEAT cars aren’t sold in the USA, and usually that’s fine. They’re basically re-branded Audis and VWs, and some of them have been grotesque. Their new SEAT IBE Concept is hardly a butterface. It has a similar shape to a VW Scirocco but with more edges and a very cool but highly-unlikely-to-see-production front-end. The IBE is a 100% Electric Vehicle with a 75kW (100hp) and 147ft lbs of torque. Not big numbers but for a city runabout it’s plenty, especially with an electric motor that makes 100% of it’s torque 100% of the time.

It has seating for four, a practical hatch in the back and should drive just fine. It’s a great-looking little runabout, certainly out-doing something like the Nissan LEAF. SEAT is proud of its baby EV, but I think they got a little carried away in the performance category of their press release. They described the 9.7 second 0-60 time is “impressive performance.” I’m sorry SEAT that is incorrect, the correct answer was “merely capable of forward movement.”

First Factory Built Fisker Karma 

Fisker Karma Plug-in Hybrid

If this was the rap world then Henrik Fisker would be Dr. Dre. He’s been promising us his new incredible looking, technologically-advanced “album” would be dropping any day now, but it kept getting pushed back. Well the Fisker Karma has finally “dropped” and MC Fisker has made good on all his promises. This is the first Karma to be built at the factory, and the only change made from the concept was a B-pillar that had to be added for rigity. Small price to pay for a car that looks this damn good. Fisker also promises it will stay true on its promises of 403hp and 100mpg (with “regular” use).

It’s priced at $88,000 dollars, pitting against BMW, AUDI and Mercedes but with that body and the promise of about 4 times the efficiency of other cars in that market it just might be a contender. I’d take it over a Panamera on looks alone.

Venturi America EV “Dune Buggy”

Venturi America Concept

I’m not sure what this is. Venturi is a French auto manufacturer that used to build mid-engined sports cars from 1984 to 2000, when it went bankrupt. It was bought in 2001 and is now based out of Monaco, building a small number of electric-only vehicles.

And this is one of them, called the Venturi America EV Dune Buggy. It’s a RWD 2 seater that has no doors and a ride height similar to a crossover. It has a 300hp (220kW) VM300 electric motor and a range of 186 miles. That’s all well and good but the only thing “buggy-like” that I can see is its face. Which is ugly. The rear is no better, looking like a 42 Ford and a walrus’ ass. I guess if it’s purely for recreation in Baja it’s ok. The interior isn’t bad, reminding me of a TVR. Maybe they hope you’ll be so fascinated with the aluminum knobs and LCD screens you won’t notice your reflection in that glass office building.

Like me you might look at this and think “No way they’re going to build that. That’s just a concept car.” If only that were true. Venturi has just opened a Venturi North America office in Columbus, Ohio. I guess it’s not so bad, you could always wrap it in flat black, and transport it in an enclosed trailer, hidden from innocent eyes.

Satan Gone Green: Audi eTron Spyder

audi etron spyder front

Audi wowed us all at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2009 when it busted out the eTron concept. With the shape of an R8 and enough electricity to light California for a week it redefined what electric cars could be. Not only did it look amazing, it had a hysterical 3319 lb ft of torque. Apparently a lot of R8 owners want to be able to tow their cigarette boat, but hate wasting gas on land.

If you want to start tanning before you get to the lake, Audi has the answer: the Audi eTron Spyder. Judging by the front, this is Satan’s version of the LEAF. The first eTron design was far from tame, looking like the evil ‘Venom’ twin a la Spiderman. The Spyder looks even more menacing, with sharper edges, bigger vents and headlights that make you apologize for sins you never committed. The powertrain is different than the first eTron’s nuclear plant; the Spyder has two electric motors feeding 64kW (85hp) to the front wheels and a twin-turbo TDI V6 at the rear wheels that burns black fuel to the tune of 300hp and 479lb ft of torque.

etron spyder paris

It’s only a female ballet dancer over 3,000lbs, sprinting to 60mph in 4.4 seconds. Thanks to perfect 50:50 weight distribution handling will be filed under the category of “yay.” If you want to save the whales you can drive at 37mph for up to 31 miles using only the electric motors.

Champion: Jaguar C-X75

jaguar c x75 concept

I believe Homer Simpson said it best when he eloquently whispered, “Sweet, merciful crap!” This car is just incredible. From the body, so smooth it looks like it could split molecules, to the “flight of the navigator” interior it’s almost visual sensory overload. Some people complained it didn’t look “Jaguar enough” but hypercars (and that’s what this is) don’t often look anylike their fleet brethren. Point out which Ferrari that was built at the time of the Enzo looks anything like it.

“But this is an “e-car”, how can you compare it to an Enzo?” With each wheel being powered by a 195hp electric motor, that’s how. Bust out your iBrain, it’s about 800hp total. And it’s not just electric, it’s also a hybrid, the coolest hybrid ever to be exact. Because the gas-powered motors that charge the batteries are two mid-mounted micro-turbines, visible through the rear window. Mr. Veyron, Mr. X75 sees your awesome engine and raises you $1000.

c x75 jaguar engine

It’s like an engine swap from George Jetson’s car (or the future, for you young people). It is without a doubt the coolest-looking powerplant I’ve ever seen. When you push the eco-friendly thruster pedal the C-X75 will go from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds and runs mid 10’s in the 1/4 mile. V-Max is a fine-by-me 205 mph. I admit 800hp usually means a bigger V-Max, but it also has a range up to 560 miles. That’s about 829 times farther than a Zonda R. Charging the batteries takes 6 hours, and once done you can drive up to 68 miles without burning a drop of fuel. It is the fastest, most extraordinary looking hybrid at the PMS by a land-slide. It will be exclusive, expensive, and worth it. This will be a game-changer for hyper car builders, mark my words.

jaguar c x75 concept side

For the full (and very lengthy) details on the C-X75, click the press release below.