I agree. The i8 elicits as great a response from fellow motorists and passers-by as the McLaren 650S Spider I ran last year, a car costing more than twice the price and making 10 times the noise.
However, those concept car looks come with those concept car dihedral doors, which, as Frankel has previously pointed out, restrict the type of space you can park in.
Matt Saunders recalls: “I remember from writing the road test that you’d need a garage more than three metres wide and two metres tall to get both doors open inside it. But then I guess i8 owners are probably triple-garage type of people anyway.”
Will Nightingale clearly doesn’t have a triple garage. “Getting out of the i8 on my driveway involved half opening the driver’s door to stop it from hitting a bush and then limboing under it. Smooth.” Smooth indeed.
Nightingale is more enamoured with how it drives: “Let’s not pretend the i8 is blessed with quite the handling verve of a Porsche 911, but given what else it brings to the party, it’s nothing short of phenomenal.”
Saunders builds on these comments: “It’s actually at its best as an everyday-use GT car: big on response and accessible overtaking thrust, not interested in getting much beyond 100mph, and refined and economical when you want it to be, with all the ‘faszinating’ fun of electric running on your way to top up the kids’ cool points as you pick them up from school. I think it’s knowing the unexpected truth about the i8 that makes it such an appealing thing to own: that you could use it like a Nissan GT-R or a 911 Turbo, and that it’s so much easier to live with than it looks.”
The 911 point is an interesting one, because one of the things that makes the Porsche so usable is its pair of small rear seats. The i8 has those, too. Rachel Burgess made the best use of them: “The i8 isn’t practical, they said. Never willing to take someone’s word for it, I ventured home to take my toddler niece for a ride. Admittedly, it was a workout getting her in and out, and her little legs were up the seatback, but she was more than happy. That said, only a fourfooter would have worked as a front passenger after accommodating the baby seat.”
A major theme running through colleagues’ comments is just how much there is to discover about the car. Matt Burt puts it nicely: “Marketeers bang on about ‘surprise and delight’, that child-like feeling of joy you get when you discover something new and satisfying about a recently purchased product, be it a four-bedroomed house or a pot of natural yoghurt.
“In that respect, the i8 is the gift that keeps on giving, and not just for those of us fortunate enough to get behind the wheel. Driving through south-west London, responding to gawks and looks with a knowing grin, I felt like a cutting-edge tech wizard cum superhero – the Cornish Tony Stark, perhaps.”