So why do I think the BMW i8 is well on its way to a place in the sports car hall of fame?
One: Because in its way it is a cut-price Porsche 918 Spyder. It’s not as quick outright as the 918, obviously, but compared with most other cars on the road it is more than quick enough. And in just about every other way it’s at least as clever as the 918 technically and ecologically. And yet it costs eight times less.
Two: It’ll do at least 60mpg on a give-and-take motorway journey. The very worst it will return is low-to-mid 30mpg, and that’s only if you thrash it like a maniac everywhere. Realistically you are looking at between 55-75mpg assuming you use a bit of e-propulsion every now and again in towns and so on. For me, and despite the fact that the theoretical claim is 134.5mpg on the combined cycle, that’s still a phenomenal achievement.
Three: In the flesh, in amongst everyday traffic, it looks as arresting and interesting and just plain good as any car I’ve driven in a very long time indeed.
Four: In sport mode its 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine makes a noise that sounds, if not full-blown lovely then very appealing on the ear. And it’s a real sound, not a digitised one. Fair enough, the sound it makes is then amplified via the speakers to make it feel and sound more dramatic, but all BMW has done is turn the volume up on the actual sound being made by the engine. And the sound made by the engine – and its turbocharger – is great.
Five: It might just be the first six-figure sports car to set a trend towards skinnier tyres, front and rear.
Six: It has such an enormous range of personality, all under just one roof. You want a sports car that goes like the clappers and which sounds good, handles well and has super-accurate steering? Put it Sport mode. You want a smooth-riding limousine that feels like it is gliding along on the wind, and which makes you feel quite peculiarly calm when behind the wheel due to the complete lack of engine noise? Put it in e-drive and off you go. And in Comfort and Eco-Pro modes it’ll do a whole load of different things in between.
Seven: For a hybrid that regenerates its e-power via the brakes and at any time when you’re not on full throttle in sport mode, its brakes feel unusually natural. This is mainly because it regenerates via both axles and not just the front axle like the BMW i3, which tends to lurch under brakes or off throttle where the i8 feels, well, pretty much like a normal car really.
Eight: Its multi-changeable digital dashboard looks exceedingly cool, and it works beautifully in practice, too.
Nine: Its 2+2 rear seats are actually usable by full-ish sized human beings. Mind you, this is just as well because the rear-mounted boot is a little bit on the pokey side compared with most rivals.