Newswise — Rarely does petroleum fuel--and foul--the green fantasy of automotive enthusiasts, but the reality is quite different. Despite the strides made in electrifying the auto business, its heart and soul will revolve around the internal combustion engine for decades to come.
There are other ways of getting the most out of such engines than by yoking them, hybrid style, to electric motors. You can, for instance, make a small engine act like a large one by turbocharging or even supercharging it, as several automakers from Motown to Munich (notably BMW) have emphasized lately. This trick boosts fuel economy and cuts tailpipe emissions, usually without sacrificing power or drivability.
Of course, our list includes a few hybrid crs, as well as all-electric ones, such as the new Ford Focus. As always, our emphasis is on interesting new technology, not just the market share that it commands for now.
Nor do we limit ourselves exclusively to practical cars. For instance, we test-drive the Ferrari FF, a V12-powered beast that pretends to be a station wagon, as well as the McLaren, a supercar that packs immense power onto a featherlight frame based on carbon-fiber composites. We also review the Porsche GTR Hybrid, a 670-horsepower banshee that tops off the output of its engine and electric motors with a critical extra bit of coomph from a flywheel.
It's all grist to our mill because history shows that even seemingly outlandish ideas tend eventually to trickle down to the car that normal people can afford to buy and operate. Supercharged engines offer a perfect example of this tendency. Once upon a time they were limited to high-performance fighter planes; now you can find them in family cars.