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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.