What’s important with the i8 is to manage your expectations. Come at it hoping for a straight rival to a Porsche 911 or an Audi R8 and you’re likely to come away if not disappointed, then at least slightly bemused. Expect it to be closer to BMW’s own 6-series or another grand tourer and the i8 is perhaps more likely to fulfil your remit.
The steering, for one, is definitely more that of a tourer than sports car. It’s responsive and accurate, no question, but lighter than we’d expected, and with little discernible increase in torque effort off the straight-ahead to replicate the feeling of cornering force transferring to the rim. Instead, it retains its consistent, oily slickness at all speeds. It’s far from unpleasant but less connected than you might have expected.
The chassis, too, feels more tuned for dabbling in straight-line demolitions than it is for consuming corners. There’s a spot of fidgeting around town, but that clears on the open road and, given that it has excellent straight-line stability, the i8 makes a superb cruising companion. Where the i8 is slightly less convincing is if you ask it to do the things you’d normally ask of a £100k sports car. It’s not that it’s incapable; it wouldn’t record a lateral g figure of 1.03 if it were.
No, it’s just that the balance isn’t quite suited to outright sportiness. The i8 feels at some stages agile and at others hampered both by the roles it’s meant to play and by its mechanical layout.