Eco-friendly sports cars introduced at auto show





Top, the Fisker Automotive Karma plug-in hybrid sports car is bound to debunk the vision of hybrids as dull commuter boxes. Bottom, the Cadillac CTS Coupe was a surprise unveiling at the International Auto Show in Detroit.

Environmental issues may have been at the fore of the just-finished North American International Auto Show in Detroit — but there was no shortage of high-performance coupe action on the show floor.

And in some cases, manufacturers had managed to combine alternative powertrains with exciting-looking sports cars. Even Ferrari has gone green, showing a biofuel-capable version of its F430 Spider model.

Most notable was Fisker Automotive’s Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, a vehicle that’s bound to debunk the vision of hybrids as dull-but-worthy commuter boxes. The Karma is an $80,000 US sports car capable of a zero to 100 km/h time of just 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 200 km/h (125 mph). But according to CEO and designer Henrik Fisker, it is greener than a Toyota Prius.

Fisker, who designed the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9, said the car was “an environmentally friendly car without compromise” that would make “green” seem sexy.

More conventional, but certainly sexy, is the Lexus LF-A Roadster, a soft-top version of the coupe shown 12 months ago. With a 500-horsepower, front-mounted 5-litre V10 it’s nowhere near as green as the Fisker — but it would give Toyota’s luxury car division a genuine super car flagship to reinforce its up-market credentials.

A less expensive, but no less important, coupe is the Cadillac CTS Coupe, a surprise unveiling at the show, though production of the angular 3.6-litre V6-engined two-door is still a couple years away.

Volkswagen calls its sleek, low-roof derivative of the Passat a Crossover Coupe, or CC. It bears the same relationship to the regular Passat as the Mercedes CLS does to the E-class. It’s a four-door coupe that carries a premium over the more conservative sedan.