BMW i8 long-term test review: journey to the Spa Six Hours
Our hybrid sports car proves ideal for a lonely drive to Spa
Every September I jump in a car and head to Belgium to compete in the Spa Six Hours.
And for the past five years, me, various relatives and a bloke called Chris Harris have raced a 1965 Ford Falcon, a safe old bus that is both lighter (about 1100kg) and more powerful (around 460bhp) than it looks.
The route to Spa is dull, but I’ve always enjoyed it, not least because Harris provides weapons-grade banter all the way. But this year he was committed elsewhere, so I faced the drive with just an i8 for company.
Happily, I love travelling alone. In fact, and with very few exceptions, I prefer it. Go alone and you leave when you want, listen to what you want, drive how you like and get there without anyone requesting a loo, coffee or, God forbid, meal break. So I rose at 3am, was out of the country before most had even woken up and at Spa for an early lunch.
And apart from its refusal to communicate with my iPhone unless connected via a genuine Apple cable, the i8 was superb. I wondered how Belgium’s coarse motorways would resonate through the carbonfibre structure, because road noise is very surface-dependent in the UK, but it was fine. It rode beautifully, bettered 40mpg and proved again that you don’t need 16-way adjustable seats as long as you have a fundamentally sound driving position and a decent chair, both of which it has.
Once there, I introduced it to my brother, who’d hoofed across from another part of the UK in his Alpina D3 daily driver. He emerged from the i8 looking satisfyingly thunderstruck and announcing he’d seen the future.
For once, the race went well, and the following morning the i8 whisked me and a mild hangover back to Wales with so little fuss that I barely remember a thing about it. And that’s the joy of this car: if there is another out there that is as good at rewarding you when you want to drive and as unobtrusive when you need to relax, I’ve not driven it.
Price £104,540 Price as tested £108,615 Economy 43.2mpg Faults None Expenses None Last seen 28.9.16
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