The small roadster is a hairdresser’s car. The big SUV with heavily tinted windows is a drug dealer’s car. There are some unfair and unkind stereotypes in motoring, which were never funny, aren’t accurate and often come with troublingly prejudicial undertones.
So fair play to West Midlands Police for smashing one of them by releasing a video of a car chase from last year that resulted in the arrests and convictions of two drug dealers trying to make an escape from a police car in, of all things, a BMW i8.
A lot has been written about this plug-in hybrid coupé: that it’s an intelligent sports car; that it was groundbreaking; that it was the most interesting car on sale; that its rear styling looks like it’s defecating a Porsche 911. But never have I heard it described as a drug dealer’s car.
But here we are: an i8 is this drug dealer’s motor. To quote the officer as the chase is initiated, after the BMW speeds down the hard shoulder of the M6 in heavy traffic, unwittingly undertaking him: “Really?”
And so the pursuit begins. There’s lots of overtaking, a bit of undertaking, speeding through roundabouts and traffic lights and doing 90mph in a 30mph zone, all while a calm, gentle voice updates police headquarters and us on progress from the passenger seat. I think the commentary highlight is: “We’re into the Toby Carvery now.”
Yes, I said ‘highlight’. The subject matter is grim, but there’s a reason that Police Camera Action! was hit TV and why Hollywood films have car chases. If all ends well, as this one did, they’re compelling.
They’re also educational. And while I’m by no means an expert, this video makes me think that the i8 is really bad at this sort of thing.
For a start, everyone looks at it and looks into it, which if you’re picking your nose is merely embarrassing, but if you’re holding a rucksack containing 5kg of cocaine (worth around £500,000) and belting along a hard shoulder strikes me as considerably more perilous.