High-end exotic and luxury vehicles going 'green'


The updated Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is expensive at around $200,000. It's also fast, with 583 horsepower under the hood. But it's also efficient compared to ultra-performance cars from just a few years ago.

"There used to be this maxim that 'There's no replacement for displacement.' Now you can kind of replace that with technology with direct injection. We have start-stop that we've identified from the hybrids," said Rob Moran, Mercedes-Benz AMG spokesman. "It's really the golden age. More power, more torque, less fuel consumption."

And as Mercedes-Benz moves its high-end, high-performance AMG sub-brand forward, it's looking for other ways to keep the fun, but with efficiency.

There's a Mercedes prototype that's purely battery-powered and is purely experimental. But it hints at what could be coming.

"I would say as far as performance cars go, watch this space as far as electric," said Moran.

Believe it or not, exotic and luxury cars are lessening their carbon footprint. Bentley, for example, is now offering its sleek continental coupe with a smaller, turbocharged V-8 engine.

"A few years ago we made a commitment to reduce our emissions by around 40 percent," said Kevin Rose, a Bentley spokesman. "We've done that."

And it's still up to the task of thrilling. Behind the wheel, you'd never know it has a smaller engine.

You'd think that anyone who has the money for a car well into or even deep into six figures wouldn't care about the price of fuel. But that's just part of it.

"Our customers want to be seen as being responsible as well as enjoying themselves," said Rose.

With increasingly strict fuel economy standards, companies that build high-end exotics are working to make sure their cars won't be regulated away.

Rolls-Royce, for example, created a prototype electric car a couple of years ago to gauge interest: Another example of forward thinking to show that performance can live on.

And everyone seems to be on board.

"Being in charge of AMG here in the States I can guarantee you that we're working really hard on doing that," said Moran. "But we're also not going to lose what makes us special, which is being high-performance."

"All this engineering is moving these cars forward so that they kind of offer the best of both worlds," said automotive writer Basem Wasef. "They're fuel-efficient and they're extremely fast."

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