The i8 is absolutely on the pace in terms of raw speed, way ahead of it on quality of delivery and unequalled on fuel economy. The sporting service this car provides in the real world is nothing short of excellent. Incredible, in fact, when you think it’s all coming from a three-cylinder petrol engine and some mains electricity.
There’s little compromise on acceleration. Our i8 was quicker than both a Porsche 911 3.4 and a Jaguar F-type V6 S to both 60mph and 100mph. There are quicker cars on which you could spend £100k, but a departure point like that shouldn’t be hard for anyone to stomach.
It’s easier still when you consider how flexible the i8 is and how muscular it feels the instant you move the accelerator. Select Sport mode and the car will hold a gear at high revs. Chase the red line and the engine feels willing and powerful, but never more so than when you’re simply squirting along in a high gear on a motorway or picking off an unhurried overtake.
Locked in fifth gear, the i8 will get from 50-70mph in a brawny 3.3sec. The aforementioned 911 needs to be in second to sprint more quickly than that, while even the supercharged Jag needs fourth.
That immense flexibility makes the i8 a brilliant grand tourer. The low-profile tyres and super-stiff structure combine to create a bit of road roar, and you’ll wish there was a way to turn down BMW’s speaker-conveyed, frequency-augmented engine noise in Sport mode, but you can cover long distances at effortless high speeds in this car, while being as involved with the i8’s powertrain as takes your fancy.
And when you do, it’s remarkable how economical the i8 can be. Our touring test, driven partly on electric power, coaxed a whisker under 50mpg from the i8. But out on the road, you can be as brutish as you like with the loud pedal and seldom get less than 40mpg, while rivals would be struggling towards the high 20s. In town, meanwhile, the electric-only range proved to be about 16 miles after a full charge.