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The cars of 2013: Alt:Power

  1. Despite the hopes of a certain J. Clarkson Esq., the idea of alternative power hasn’t disappeared in a fog of short-circuiting lithium, it’s just found new places to live. And, in 2013, having a car that doesn’t rely on an internal combustion engine will be a more interesting experience, because the range of alt:power vehicles is expanding.

    Range-extended hybrids are getting more interesting, treading lightly in the footsteps of cars that we actually want to use, like the Vauxhall Ampera/Chevy Volt. Neatly scoring several trend points is the five-door, shooting-brake-type body that Fisker has strapped to the Karma to produce the Surf. It’s the same hardware (electric motors/2.0-litre turbo ‘generator’ and 400bhp), but gets a more usable estate body, due in May. There’ll also be the production version of the Range Rover Range-E, a plug-in diesel/electric hybrid of our favourite SUV that should hit 89g/km and 85mpg. Yes, C-Charge free and more than 80mpg from a 242bhp, 3.0-litre TDV6 Range Rover with a 91bhp leccy motor bolted on, good for about 20 miles of pure EV motoring. Dates aren’t confirmed, but we’ll likely see it later this year.

    Too big? Then BMW has the answer in the all-electric, five-seat i3 supermini (BMW calls it a Megacity vehicle), which not only looks groovy, but can manage a respectable 100 miles on a charge. We’ll see it late this year, looking not unlike the ‘concept’ car BMW showed at the LA motor show in November.

    But if you really want to confuse Clarkson, then we ought to mention the production-ready, £330,972 Mercedes SLS Electric Drive, which comes with four electric motors to produce 740bhp and 738lb ft of torque, making it the world’s most powerful EV. Four-wheel drive means it nips to 62mph in under four seconds. Which should be enough to confound even the most diehard of petrolheads this year.

  2. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    WHEN: October

    WHAT: The plug-in hybrid of the new Outlander, with front/rear electric motors, plus engine. The first production PHEV
    to have 4x4 and three driving modes  

    AND: It can run as EV, conventional hybrid or range-extender. Emissions below 50g/km, too, meaning 151mpg

  3. Porsche Panamera PHEV

    WHEN: August

    WHAT: Plug-in hybrid version of the 3.0-litre V6 Panamera, with 95bhp of electric boost and 30km (19 miles)
    of pure EV capability

    AND: The biggest differences from gen1 are really only a bigger lithium-ion battery pack and that plug-in capability

  4. Renault Zoe

    WHEN: March

    WHAT: Pretty little EV supermini for £13,650. The 87bhp electric motor gives
    an official max range of 130 miles, more like 70-90 in the real world

    AND: The battery is leased separately for £70 a month, so beware the hidden costs. But you can get Teflon seats!

  5. Volkswagen XL1

    WHEN: December

    WHAT: Bonkers little hypermiler that VW calls an SEV (Super Efficient Vehicle), though 313mpg and 23g/km is hard to argue with

    AND: It’s an 800cc two-pot diesel with 46bhp, and a 25bhp leccy motor. Not fast, but weighs just 795kg and is über-slippery

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