10 Insider Tips For Maximizing Your Hybrid Vehicle’s Performance

Some automakers have found great ways to provide excellent power and performance in hybrid sports cars. These cars offer something more than your traditional hybrid. Instead of focusing on fuel mileage and efficiency, performance cars take the added juice of a hybrid system and drive the wheels harder and faster to return some incredible sprint times and performances on the track.

Fast hybrid cars utilize small gas engines and high-end hybrid electrical systems to push more power to the wheels for speed and performance. These cars have a distinct advantage over traditional sports cars. You might admire the massive V-8, V-12, and W-16 engines of some of the top supercars in the world, but the V-6 and four-cylinder hybrids deliver amazing numbers to keep up with the massive gas-guzzlers.

Related: 10 Best Plug-In Hybrids In 2023

1 Keep The Tires Properly Inflated and Use the Right Tires

Tires Are What Win Races

A front 3/4 close up shot of a Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid

It’s not a secret that tires are important on the track. Racing teams analyze tire wear and find the right time to change the tires in the pits. The same goes for your tires out on the road. Although you won’t change your tires every few laps around the block, the right tires provide the best performance when you take your hybrid sports car to the track.

What Are The Right Tires?

Electric vehicles use specially calibrated and designed tires to provide maximum driving range and performance. If you’re looking for the best performance from a hybrid sports car when you take it to the track, you’ll need a special set of tires for your track day. On the other hand, if you’re only showing off and racing your friends, you’ll likely do this on your regular daily tires.

2 Use Premium Fuel To Get More From The Gas Engine

Better Fuel Leads To Better Performance

Refueling Station
Kwangmoozaa | Shutterstock

When you drive a hybrid performance car, it’s entirely possible this car lists premium fuel as a requirement for optimal performance. This is an extremely important aspect of maximizing a hybrid car’s performance. Even during normal driving in traffic, you should use premium fuel, typically rated at 93 octane. This fuel keeps your car running right and ensures it’s ready to perform when you take it to the track.

Can Your Hybrid Handle Racing Fuel?

When Dodge released the Challenger Demon, this muscle car was rated at more than 800 horsepower, but that was when using 100 octane racing fuel. Unlike the Demon, your hybrid performance car might not be rated for this higher-octane fuel. Check your owner’s manual to determine what fuel is best when taking your hybrid sports car to the track for some fun.

Related: 10 Hybrid Cars That Are Also Surprisingly Powerful

3 Add A Performance-Programming Microchip

Why Won’t Most Tuners Change A Hybrid Car?

2017 BMW i8 Coupe

Unlike traditional ICE vehicles, most modern hybrid performance cars utilize complicated electronics to deliver specific electric power to the motor, which aids the gas engine. These combined elements enable a hybrid sports car to show what it can do. The BMW i8 was an excellent example of a high-performance hybrid sports car with a small engine tuned perfectly by the manufacturer.

Remapping The ECU Can Be Done

In modern cars, remapping the ECU has become part of the tuning process to improve power and performance in many cars. This can be part of maximizing a hybrid car’s performance, but there’s another aspect to this process. A small performance-programming microchip can be installed that overrides the current settings and makes a hybrid car faster.

4 Capture Braking Energy Using Regen Whenever Possible

Learn To Catch That Energy While Racing

2013 Porsche 918 Spyder Driving

Imagine racing around the track in a Porsche 918 Spyder. This plug-in hybrid sports car has an incredible V8 engine and two electric motors that deliver additional horsepower. If you want to keep these electric motors going longer, you’ve got to learn to use regenerative braking around the corners and whenever slowing down.

Regenerative Braking Is Good For Your Hybrid Car

Not all hybrid performance cars are as powerful or fast as the Porsche 918 Spyder, but they all work similarly. When you utilize the regen system in your hybrid, energy is captured and sent to the battery pack or electric motor to extend the hybrid system’s power. This is good for your hybrid car because it saves the hydraulic brakes for when you need them most and reuses energy that would otherwise be lost.

Related: Why Your Next Car Should Be A Plug-In Hybrid

5 Hit The Accelerator Hard

Hybrids Take Off Like a Rocket

Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo around the Nurburgring

Plug-in hybrid performance cars utilize a rechargeable battery pack and electric motors to deliver incredible torque figures. Hit the accelerator hard and let this system rocket your hybrid performance car quickly down the road. While the electric system sends you toward your goal, the gas-powered engine can catch up and maintain the desired power level.

Hybrid Performance Cars Offer The Best Of Both Worlds

In traditional gas-powered vehicles, you must let the car run through the gears to get the engine to maximum RPMs and top speed figures. While hybrid cars also feature traditional transmissions that must run through the gears, the electric motors deliver plenty of power for speed and performance while the gas engine works to get up to speed. This combination makes for some of the fastest sprint times on the track. Incidentally, the Porsche 918 Spyder hits 60 mph in only 2.2 seconds.

6 Stay On Top Of The Air-Cooled Battery Pack’s Filter

Keep The Air Flowing To Keep the Batteries Cooler

The battery pack in a hybrid car is typically air-cooled, with a filter to keep debris out of the system. The same air used in the engine helps cool the batteries, making the air filter one of the most important performance parts when you want to maximize your hybrid car’s speed and power.

The Air Filter Is That Important

How much can a dirty air filter slow down your car? If the filter becomes too dirty, it can sound like the engine is choking because it can’t get enough air to deliver good performance. The air also cools the battery pack in a hybrid performance car. It’s important to ensure the batteries can be as cool as possible, so they don’t overheat and continue to provide excellent performance. Keep an eye on the air filters in your hybrid performance car.

Related: Key Areas Where The Toyota Prius Prime Outshines The Competition

7 Ditch The Junk In The Trunk

This Is Good Advice For All Drivers

Yellow 2022 Acura NSX Type-S

Whether you’re looking for the best fuel mileage figures from your car or want to maximize your hybrid vehicle’s performance, you’ll need to remove any excess weight from your vehicle. Racing teams cut weight wherever they can, often finding the smallest weight-saving strategies to ensure the car is as light as possible while remaining powerful on the road or track.

Hybrid Cars Have An Advantage

The advantage is a bit of a give-and-take, but overall, most hybrid performance cars are lighter than their gas-power counterparts. The power produced in the Porsche 918 Spyder would typically only be possible from a sports car with a larger engine, which means added weight. Most hybrid cars offer excellent performance with smaller engines, making them instantly lighter and quicker.

8 Protect The Aerodynamics

Are The Accessories Worth It?

The 2024 Lexus 500h in Blue

Adding gadgets and flashy elements to your performance machine might look great, but are they adding to the performance figures? In most cases, added accessories are detrimental to the performance numbers of any car, including hybrid performance machines. Many automakers develop hybrid cars with the best possible aerodynamics to deliver excellent fuel mileage, but the same is true for hybrid performance cars.

Check The Wheels

The right wheels on your hybrid performance car enhance your speed and performance figures. Some drivers forget that some wheels create more drag than others, causing the vehicle to lose a bit of its aerodynamic advantage. If you’re serious about hybrid performance, check your wheels for an aerodynamic advantage.

Related: 10 Things Most People Don’t Know About Mild Hybrid Vehicles

9 Keep An Eye On The High Voltage Cooling System

ICE Cooling Is Pretty Simple

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach Package
Edvvc via Flickr

Hybrid cars have two cooling systems, one for the ICE engine and the other for the hybrid system. The engine’s cooling system is simple, involving a coolant pump and the radiator. The pump sends coolant around the engine, where it heats up before sending it back to the radiator to cool down again.

Thermal Cooling Is Complicated

The thermal management system is more complex than the ICE cooling system. This system continually works to maintain an optimal temperature range for the car. This system must ensure the battery doesn’t get overheated or that energy captured during regenerative braking isn’t lost to heat. You’ve got to keep an eye on this high-voltage cooling system while driving.

Shh, We’ve Got A Little Secret

Typically, the engine in a hybrid car isn’t tuned to its maximum power, which means one of the quickest and easiest ways to get more power and performance out of your hybrid car is to increase the engine’s power. Generally, hybrid vehicles have a de-tuned version of a more powerful engine found elsewhere in the manufacturer’s range.

Tuning Requires Computer Changes

In modern vehicles, you’re not simply bolting on parts for more power. Often, the best way to find more power to maximize a hybrid vehicle’s performance is through reprogramming the computer chip. An example is the BMW X5 45e, which has a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine that makes 335 horsepower in other models. In the hybrid version, this engine is de-tuned to 282 horsepower, but with a few simple programming changes, the power can be increased by as much as 116 horsepower.


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