Cost new £104,540
Value now £65,000
Now before you turn the page, laughing, I’m going make a weighty statement – I reckon the BMW i8 is the best car Munich makes right now. That’s because the hybrid butterfly door BM is just so damn clever. A monster electric motor coupled to a 1.5 three-cylinder twin-turbo creates a hurricane of energy that propels you 60mph in just 4.4 seconds and returns 50mpg in real-world driving. I could rave about the carbonfibre construction, the laser headlights or the meaty 362bhp power output, but it just feels so much fun to drive.
Clambering in beneath those dihedral doors is an act of theatre in itself but there’s no noise at all when you push the starter. You can run round on battery for only 24 miles and charge it up on a normal plug at home. But when you press the Sport button the dials change to flame red and the i8 becomes seriously wicked. A faux engine noise is piped into the cabin that sounds just like an F1 car, complete with blips between gearchanges. Far from thinking you’re compromised by batteries, range anxiety or the availability of charging stations, the i8 just wants to go faster and faster. And here’s the best bit – the faster and longer you drive the more the battery is recharged. I like that.
Soon you’re hitting the ton and not long after that 130mph. Press on and touching the limited top end of 155mph is blithely easy too. And there’s never a hint of mechanical strain or stress because, well, there isn’t any. That feeling of friction between metallic components just isn’t there. With so few moving parts, such a tiny engine and featherweight construction it feels impossibly light and fleet, changing direction in milliseconds. There’s a feeling of surprising liberation when all this is happening – a sort of connection to the future that feels totally new and exciting. And even though the emissions are a very creditable 49g/km, you couldn’t care less – all you want to do is to feel this brave new sensation of lightweight electric speed again and again.
The BMW i8 takes the sensation of driving quickly to an almost ethereal level. In fact, ‘driving’0 is the wrong word – it’s more like gliding extremely quickly on a prototype magic carpet. At £104,540 it’s too expensive (such technical pre-eminence has a price) but the earliest cars are now down to £65k. I was determined not to be impressed by the i8 but came away loving it. And that’s because it’s that rare thing – an EV that genuinely stirs your soul and opens a window on a whole new world of hyper-efficient energy.
The i8 is a landmark car and an instant classic. If this is what our automotive future feels and looks like – bring it on.
‘There’s never a hint of mechanical strain or stress because, well, there isn’t any’