They make the i8 more convincing as an electric car and more enjoyable as a convertible, your stealthy progress allowing you to hear the countryside, or a town, as you drive through it. But if you want to feel the full force of this BMW’s 4.6 seconds to 62mph performance, a switch to sport mode and a determined right foot deliver the performance experience you’d expect of a car that looks this speedy. With it, you’ll hear the three-cylinder’s unexpectedly potent bellow besides feeling the rush of wind, though not so much that the sensation is blusteringly unpleasant.
BMW’s minor suspension rethink has certainly improved the i8, reducing much of the understeer uncovered when assaulting tight bends, the steering feeling more precise too, if still short of the tyre-meshing-with-Tarmac sensations that a Lotus can provide. But the Roadster’s chassis balance, responsiveness and reliably sticky grip allow for memorably rapid country road drives. A shame that the fat front pillars invade your vision, though, and reversing soon underlines the need for the parking camera, the view rearwards almost obliterated by the car’s structure. The i8 is wide, too, making this a sometimes cumbersome car in confined spaces. Brakes that are sometimes difficult to apply smoothly at low speeds, too large a gap between second and third gear and the i8’s undersized instruments are further minor gripes.
None of which alters the fact that this is a car whose engineering is as fascinating as its look, nor that it’s beautifully furnished, additively quick, agile, versatile (for two) and makes an environmental impact far more modest than its looks. The open-air conversion sacrifices almost nothing other than the Coupe’s near-pointless rear seats and the addition of a modest 60kg, making a still more appealing machine of the i8. The keenest of keen drivers may still prefer a Porsche 911, but if you want proof that green sportscars can thrill, this is it.
Engines: 1.5 litre three cylinder petrol, electric motor
Transmission: 6-spd automatic 4WD
Bhp/lb ft: 369bhp/236lb ft
Top speed: 155mph
Price as tested: £124,730