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BEFORE writing this review of the BMW i8 Roadster, I looked back at the past three years of this column.
Not for a misty-eyed trip down memory lane or anything like that.
I fancied reminding myself which cars were being released back then — a few years spent boxing badly as a youth and an adult fondness for Guinness means the memory ain’t what it should be.
Things haven’t changed much. A family car was launched on an almost weekly basis, SUVs were still as popular as Harry Styles at a Girl Guides summer camp.
And the occasional supercar from aspirational outfits such as Lambo and Aston kept these pages looking shiny, just as they do today.
But one thing did jump out — electric and hybrid cars were rare. We’re only halfway through 2018 and this column has already been graced by the Jaguar iPace, Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and a plethora of hybrids from Volvos and Lexus.
It’s clear the battle has been won by Team Green over the past few years. In the early days, EVs and hybrids were easy to criticise, but that’s changed.
Cars are no different to any other technology — remember the early mobile phones? You could use them as a doorstop once you finished your crackly call, which was probably frying your brain cells.
If you’re still resistant to the idea of electrified motors, I reckon the BMW i8 Roadster will make you a believer.
Seen a cooler-looking car? I’d be hard pressed to answer yes.
Normally when manufacturers strive to come up with a “groundbreaking design” it ends up looking like a drunk eight-year-old did it, like the VW XL1. But not this.
The gullwing doors, normally found on bedroom wall-worthy McLarens, almost justify the £124,000 price tag alone.
But looks mean nothing without performance. Happily, it turns out the i8 Roadster is rather fun. Scratch that, it’s ridiculously fun.
On paper, the 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds doesn’t sound hugely impressive, when you consider the SUV-sized iPace will knock it out in 4.8.
But the driving position is lower than a snake’s belly, so squeezing into the cockpit allows you to imagine you’re piloting an F1 car.
It feels stonkingly rapid — the 141bhp electric motor delivering instant torque, and its partner 1.5-litre turbo petrol (228bhp) keeping the revs screaming as the needles sweep right.
This second-generation i8 is a far more bona fide electric vehicle than the last, thanks to a new and improved battery.
While it’s bumped up the bhp by 12, more significantly it has increased the range from 20 miles to 33 — and those are real-world figures.
The average commute in the UK is well under 20 miles, which means as long as you don’t drive to work like you stole your car, you could feasibly run it on battery alone.
The only criticism I could possibly level at the i8 Roadster is that it’s almost too well planted.
You’ll struggle to squeeze any oversteer out of it, and I’m a firm believer that all two-seater sports cars should have a little bit of hooligan in them.
A topless version of the i8 Coupe was slated for years, and now it’s here it’s clear the wait was worth it.
It heralds a new era in hybrid sports cars, and I suspect if I check back to today in three years’ time, the game will look very different.
BMW I8 ROADSTER
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol turbo plus electric motor
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Length: 4.7 metres
Mazda delivers its tiny bundle of joy
PEOPLE of a certain age will remember the glory days of drop-top roadsters with two seats and tiny motors.
When Triumph, MG et al made the perfect cars for people who wanted a bit of four-wheeled fun.
And now they don’t. Thankfully, Mazda’s MX-5 is there to fill that gap.
With its 160bhp, 147lb ft, 2-litre engine, the MX-5 may feel a bit underpowered compared with today’s 400bhp hyperhatches.
But it weighs less than 1,100kg, so will still crack 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. If you are feeling brave, you can hit 133mph.
At this point, some people who believe numbers mean everything will scoff.
Well, let them scoff. This is the most fun you will have on four wheels below 45mph.
The steering is decently weighted and direct, while you can feel exactly where the fronts are and change their direction quickly.
The brakes may be small but as there is not much car to stop, they do a decent job.
Throttle response is a party piece – it is quick to react and the car loves to rev.
Throw it into a corner and the soft suspension leans a little but unless you are driving like a complete berk, it tucks itself into a bend without drama.
It is hilarious to point it at a twisty country road and go nuts. And go nuts you can because – like the roadsters of yesterday – it won’t reach licence-losing speeds.
There is a downside. The car is so light because there is very little to it. It’s also tiny. But, if all you want is fun for not much dosh, the MX-5 delivers.
Engine: 2-litre 4 cylinder
0-62mph: 7.3 secs
Top speed: 133mph
CO2: 161 g/km
Sun Motor Awards 2018
WE often have to make hard choices. Such as: Which do I love more, my dog or my car?
Life shouldn’t be like that, right? Surely we can love both.
This week we are asking you to select a winner for Best Dog-Friendly Car in The Sun Motor Awards 2018.
Take a look at this shortlist. You won’t find a Rover among them but all have great dog-loving tech and durability.
1 - Land Rover Discovery
2 - Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
3 - SsangYong Rexton
4 - Nissan X-Trail
5 - Mazda CX-5
Head to thesun.co.uk/motorawards to vote. Everyone who votes will be entered into a prize draw to win a holiday for two to Dubai.
Tidy little number
WITH a bank holiday just around the corner, Seat has come up with a novel way to load up the car.
It enlisted the help of an expert in KonMari – the Japanese art of optimising space – to come up with the following advice.
1 - De-clutter. Remove items you can do without. Be ruthless and keep only what makes you happy.
2 - Pack smart. Fold or roll clothing and put loose items into boxes.
3 - Categorise. Keep essentials within easy reach and pack cases vertically to maximise your boot space.
- I could have come up with that lot for a fraction of the price.
Reader’s car of the week
WE don’t see enough Americana on these pages, so a big thank you to Fred Brindle from Ramsbottom, near Bury, for sending in this.
Fred says: “This is my 1990 Corvette C4 with a 5.7 V8 engine.
“It’s done 76,000 miles but it is still in lovely condition.”
To see your own pride and joy on these pages, send us a photograph along with a brief description of the motor to email@example.com.
Moto’s a must-see
MOTOGP is coming home. Kind of.
The Silverstone round of the premier class in two-wheeled racing makes its return next weekend, giving you the perfect opportunity to take in the smells (they’re good ones, trust us) and sounds of the greatest show on Earth.
The 2018 MotoGP season has been a scorcher.
We’re in the throes of watching Marc Marquez hunting down another world title on the factory Honda. But this year’s rival and next year’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is in no rush to make it an easy job.
Despite struggling to find his way on the Ducati in the first half of the season, former champ Jorge has very much found his mojo and is on a charge.
Of course, there are homegrown heroes to cheer for in the shape of Scott Redding on the struggling Aprilia, Bradley Smith on the under-developed KTM and multiple race winner Cal Crutchlow.
Cal has made it clear that he will be gunning for the win on the satellite Honda. He has the pace, the skills and the grit required to get the job done on the day.
We will be there with our flags waving and our fingers crossed in the hope he can make it across the line first.
You can be there, too, by taking advantage of our discount code for tickets.
Simply go to the silverstone.co.uk purchase page and use discount code SUNGA20 to get 20 per cent off an adult priced ticket.
MOST READ IN MOTORS
'SOMETHING IS GOING WRONG'Brits to be given 6.5MILLION private parking tickets this year
SOME HAVE ALL THE LUCKRod Stewart's Lambo to be sold for £150k - the second one this year
HIDDEN BONUSSecret features you never knew your car had - from umbrella to a 'curry hook'
LICENCE TO THRILLAston Martin to create Bond replica DB5s complete with working GADGETS
STRIFE IN THE FAST LANEYou could be fined £100 for going just 1MPH over the speed limit
DRIVEWAY ROBBERYBizarre law that lets anyone park on your drive - and could cost you money
So go and make the most of this Bike World and Sun offer.
Of course, it might rain and our men might not win.
But when MotoGP comes to town there’s no point looking on the glum side.
It’s the must-do gig for race fans and you owe it to yourself to be there.
For more bikes search “Bike World” on YouTube or find Bike World on Amazon.
Source : https://www.thesun.co.uk/motors/7049339/the-verdict-on-the-i8-roadster/
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