The test drive

An ex­clu­sive take on what’s al­ready one of the world’s most ex­clu­sive sportscars – be­cause ev­ery­one knows red goes faster, right? We open the scis­sor doors on this lim­ited-edi­tion ver­sion of the Tron- like hy­brid racer.

GQ (Australia) - - CARS -

STYLING

This re­mains the i8’s core al­lure – a stun­ning slice of fu­tur­is­tic de­sign that looks like it’s been boosted from a mo­tor show. Or the set of a sci-fi flick. In­deed, of all the cars we’ve driven the past few years, this con­spic­u­ous piece drew large crowds and lengthy lev­els of chat – peo­ple snap­ping, stop­ping and gen­er­ally star­ing at the lithe lines that peel back from the low-im­pact front grill. This lim­ited ver­sion means a spe­cial Pro­tonic Red metal­lic body with con­trast­ing grey ac­cents sat on 20” al­loys. The car’s arse, how­ever, is a mess in need of some se­ri­ous squats.

EN­GINE

This hy­brid beast runs on a 1.5-litre tur­bocharged three-cylin­der petrol en­gine plus a 131-hp elec­tric mo­tor. It means a com­bined out­put of 266kw and 570Nm torque and a zippy 100km/h sprint of 4.4 sec­onds in ‘Sport’ mode – that is, all four wheels pow­ered by the two mo­tors (elec­tric front/ petrol rear) via the sixspeed auto gear­box. The elec­tric en­gine can be fully charged in a cou­ple of hours with a BMW i Wall­box – or by a nor­mal socket for a few hours more. The full-elec­tric ‘edrive’ range is a dis­ap­point­ing 37km – though it can hit a speed of 120km/h.

DRIV­ING

First things first – this isn’t a car to pick up an age­ing par­ent in. The dra­matic scis­sor doors (you can’t park too close to other ve­hi­cles/walls) are one thing – though the slide and drop is ac­cen­tu­ated by hav­ing to cross a rather wide bit of car­bon fi­bre body­work. Once in, the sight is fine and the driv­ing is hon­est and fa­mil­iar. It’s a lit­tle hard on the road at times – which is to be ex­pected, this a sportscar, af­ter all – that said, there’s plenty of grip when plant­ing down some power. Steer­ing’s ag­ile and the feel is in­cred­i­bly light. In fact, your mum could eas­ily drive this – if she’s able to get in.

PRICE/DE­LIV­ERY

At $299,000 (plus on­roads and ex­tras) this isn’t cheap – and most peo­ple with $300,000 burn­ing a hole in their back pocket are more likely to make their way over to another Ger­man car deal­er­ship begin­ning with ‘P’. But then again, just as much as this is a hy­brid sportscar, it’s also a work of tech­no­log­i­cal art – a piece of kit to be ad­mired and which is a hell of a lot of fun. Avail­able now – with five Pro­tonic Reds set aside for the lo­cal mar­ket.

IN­TE­RIOR

Again, any­one fa­mil­iar with Bim­mers will be in­stantly at home in this cabin – though some fur­ther LED light­ing touches drive the fu­tur­is­tic feel. Be­yond the easy-to-use dis­plays and tech, this spe­cial edi­tion an­nounces it­self via some red high­lights and red dou­ble stitch­ing. As for the back seats, they are there, but they’re re­ally only suit­able for tod­dlers.

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