With 2020 being the year to fear public transport, never in recent times has there been a better argument for personal transport. But there are far more refined options to consider than a vanilla family hybrid SUV or e-bike. Technology has finally forced itself into the highest echelons of car and motorbike design. Here is our pick of current rides matching technical innovation with high-end aesthetics.
Audi A8 L TFSI e
Audi bills its A8 L TFSI e hybrid, above, as “part fuel, part electric, complete luxury” – and, rarely for such jargon, there is truth in this. The L means long wheelbase, or limousine, in other words. And for those looking for a cutting-edge luxury limo in which they can be wafted around then this is a car in which to lounge.
Being hybrid, with an electric-only range of 46km (ideal for trips between meetings), the A8’s 126bhp electric motor is kept in a state of “permanent excitement”, as it marries with a 335bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine. This means 0-100kph takes just 4.9 seconds, despite its size, up to an electronically limited 250kph. Impressively, it will allow you to increase speed up to 135kph on battery power alone – and the switching between power options is, without fail, absolutely seamless. The best WIRED has encountered in a hybrid, in fact.
Inside the car is so quiet it is, on occasion, hard to discern how fast you are going. Not that VIPs in the rear will notice as they watch films on individual seat-mounted tablets. Drivers, meanwhile, can be schooled on driving more smoothly, via a system where the accelerator pedal gives your foot a slight bump when approaching a lower speed limit, encouraging you to lift and in turn recharge the battery. The result is 108.6mpg. Not bad at all for a luxury limo.
Price: from £88,195 | Audi
Cannondale Scalpel Carbon LTD
With many riders increasingly looking to ride longer and faster (and realising that those tank-like downhill rigs might not be the best tool for the job) they’re turning to bikes like this Cannondale to get their off-road kicks. Modern cross-country race bikes like the Scalpel whip uphill and carve the downs without the weight penalty of being built for a jump spot. The LTD features Cannondale’s signature Lefty Ocho fork upfront (tuned to 100mm) and the brand’s bleeding edge rear-suspension construction out back.
The FlexPivot design relies on the inherent flex in the carbon-fibre frame at the back of the “rear triangle” (where the back wheels bolt to the frame) instead of the regular two pivot points. It sounds geeky (and it is), but saves weight (the Scalpel frame is a mere 1,900g), requires less maintenance (two fewer pivots to worry about) and gives the bike a taut, aggressive ride.
Price: £5,499 | Evans Cycles
Moncler X Mate Genius Edition
When luxury brands collaborate, the results can sometimes leave you scratching your head. Not so here as Moncler’s high-end outerwear meets Mate’s e-bike knowhow to create an aluminium monster featuring a 1,000W motor with throttle that can get the bike up to 50kph. This is obviously an unlocked, private-road top speed, but that’s a fair whip for a high-fashion folding commuter bike.
The 48V battery is good for 112km on a single charge, and it’s the first 4G-connected Mate model, meaning you can customise and track your ride from your phone. And in the event of a theft you can trigger Self Destruct Mode (SDM) which will render the bike useless in an instant. And Moncler’s role in all of this? Aside from some signature design cues, it brings a custom down-quilted duvet made using technical microfibre to keep your battery warm for maximum range when the temperature drops.
Price: from £3,549 | Mate Bike
Zero Labs Land Rover Series III
Zero Labs first made headlines when they turned a classic gas-guzzling Bronco truck into a lean, green eco machine, but with the news they will do the same to a 1971-1985 Land Rover Series III, it’s safe to say our interest has been peaked. Zero will take a classic chassis and build it again, adding your choice of either an 85 or 100kWh battery that will get you to 380km of range, 300HP and 330Nm torque. The body panels are made from aluminium alloy, the braking system offers 90kW regeneration and you can also go full Californian with a soft-top option and surfboard rack, or stay Hebridean with the classic configuration shown above, albeit in your choice of more than 120 colours.
Price: $185,000 | Zero Labs
With its four seats (a first for Koenigsegg), hot and cold cup-holders, front- and rear-seat infotainment and wireless charging, this is perhaps the most preposterous family runabout available. The new Gemera hybrid sports 1,700bhp and the ability to go from 0-100kph in a blistering 1.9 seconds. It will then go on up to 400kph, if the kids – and you – can handle such speeds. (Good luck hanging onto that coffee, though, even with all-wheel-drive and torque vectoring.) The three electric motors – one on each rear wheel, and one on the crankshaft – deliver 1,100bhp simultaneously.
In just EV mode the Gemera will reach 300kph, with up to 50km of range. As for the combustion part, Koenigsegg has created the “Tiny Friendly Giant”, a three-cylinder, twin-turbo 2.0-litre “Freevalve” engine driving the front wheels, which is able to run on eco-friendly ethanol or CO2-neutral methanol (as well as petrol, if you must), while producing a remarkable 600bhp. Thankfully, safety is not an afterthought, thanks to a super-strong carbon fibre monocoque, six “smart” airbags, traction control, stability control, ABS and advanced driver assistance systems are all on board. Oh, and there are ISOFIX points in the rear seats. See? Quite the family car.
Price: €1.7m | Koenigsegg
Damon Hypersport Premier Electric Motorcycle
Not only is the Damon Hypersport a EV superbike capable of 200hp, a 200mph top speed and 200 miles of motorway range on a single charge (300 miles, supposedly, in the city), thanks to the ability to electrically switch between two configurable riding positions, which when operated adjust the seat, footpegs, windscreen and handlebars from an upright position to a tucked in superbike setting, this is the closest you will get to the Optimus Prime of e-bikes.
To top off this morphing machinery, the bike (which in this Premier version includes Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension) also features an “AI-enhanced” safety system, CoPilot, where two cameras combine with haptic feedback in the handlebars to give riders better awareness of the traffic around them.
Price: $39,995 | Damon
More great stories from WIRED
💿 Meet the Excel warriors saving the world from spreadsheet disaster
🚀 Inside Gravity’s daring mission to make jetpacks a reality
🧥 Don’t get cold this winter. How to the get the most out of your home heating
🔊 Listen to The WIRED Podcast, the week in science, technology and culture, delivered every Friday
👉 Follow WIRED on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn