It is a very rare occurrence, but just occasionally a manufacturer produces a car and you realise at first glance you’re actually not looking at a mere assemblage of metal, plastic, rubber and oil, but the future.
People must have had this feeling when first looking at the Porsche 901 in 1963, the Range Rover in 1970 or the VW Golf GTi in 1974. In my time on this mag we’ve had the likes of the Mazda MX-5, Ford Focus, Honda NSX and Lexus LS400 – all cars that felt they’d change their part of the world forever, regardless of whether they actually did or not.
I got that feeling once again at Frankfurt motor show, not when looking at any of the cars in the halls, but those doing the hard work outside. I’m talking about the BMW i3, myriad examples of which spent press day flitting silently around the vast expanses of the Frankfurt Exhibition Grounds allowing grateful hacks – our own Steve Cropley included – a few precious moments off our feet.
I’ve been fascinated by the electric car movement ever since I drove a prototype Nissan Leaf around a London Docklands car park many years ago. And while I liked the Leaf enough to help it on its way to the European Car of the Year award and have thought similarly warm things about the Vauxhall Ampera, I’d not seen them as any more than interesting niche models.