A plug-in hybrid’s appeal can often be boiled down to what appears in this section – cheapness to run being, after all, most of the point.

For now, the i8 is so obviously innovative that its running costs and asking price are perhaps less immediately consequential to buyers than the Philip K Dick-style cool radiating from the concept (although BMW’s Park Lane showroom in Mayfair reports that even very well heeled buyers are keen to avoid London’s congestion charge).

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
You'll save £997 a month as a 40 per cent taxpayer running the i8 as a company car over the 911 Targa we tested in June

Either way, the i8’s near six-figure price ensures that this is as rarefied an option as an R8 or a 911 – more so, in fact, given that this year’s UK allocation has already sold out and the waiting list extends well into next year. Its efficiency, therefore, must be considered in the proper context.

But unlike the R8 or 911, the i8 is exempt from road tax and qualifies for just five per cent benefit-in-kind tax until 2016, thanks to its 49g/km CO2 emissions. It’s also eligible for the government’s plug-in car subsidy, and clearly no conventional rival can compete with its 134.5mpg combined claim – or, of course, the 23-mile electric range.

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These numbers are, of course, mitigated somewhat by real-world use, but given the exclusive segment in which it sits, that doesn’t prevent the i8 from garnering as many stars in this section as it does elsewhere – a unique advantage that makes it every bit the trailblazing prospect that BMW intended.

The i8's most profligate add-on is the £12,000 Pure Impulse Design package, which, among additional kit, includes access to BMW's bespoke Experience Programme, offering "ideas and opportunities tailored to your interests." Here's one: buy and build a Caterham 160 for your £12k instead.

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