We love a bargain here at CT. You’ll already know that if you’ve seen the videos of Alex’s long line of dubious dailies on YouTube, but if you’ve got a bit more money than him to spend, we’ve got an absolutely dreamy sports car deal for you.
While Alex may have struck Swedish gold with his new/old Volvo, far more exotic is the BMW i8. Whether you love or loathe the looks it was one hell of a project, starting in the murky depths of imagination, developing in a bottomless pit of technological nightmares and somehow ending up going head to head with the legendary Porsche 911. It was one of the most ambitious ideas ever conceived and personally I’m not convinced the ‘i’ dream can ever have paid back its investment.
With the monosyllabic sub-brand now realigned into a more mainstream position, piggybacking the normal ranges, the idea of i ever becoming a company of its own in the way Cupra has been spun off from Seat is pretty much gone. BMW tried it but for some reason it just never seemed to work. The i8, on the other hand, worked a treat.
Styling that demanded attention with all the force of a tornado full of pink elephants led to more column inches than the Sussex’s latest spat with Buckingham Palace. Some kind things were said; some not so kind. In a Top Gear twin-test a certain J Clarkson even publicly chose the butterfly-doored i8 over and above the contemporary M3. Which was unexpected.
Sure, it attracted rather too much attention for some people and the three-cylinder Mini engine didn’t exactly convince everyone it was a sonic match for the 911’s flat-six. That wasn’t its deal. Its deal was to show the world that BMW could build a hybrid sports car that went fast, cornered like a hunting eel and could creep through town as quietly as a summer dawn. Boy, it succeeded. What little it lost dynamically and emotively to other big-money sports car rivals it gained back fivefold with its incredible spread of talent, supercar-level kerb appeal and relative eco credentials.
It’s a bit of a surprise, then, to see how cheap they’ve become. You can pick up low-mileage examples from private sellers for as little as £35,000; a price that sends eyebrows dancing all around the CT office. A lightly-optioned Golf GTI is that much. A GTI Clubsport is a cool grand more. This is a four-wheel drive, 357bhp petrol-electric hybrid that will hit 62mph from rest in 4.4 seconds and make you the coolest parent outside the school gates. All for the price of a comparatively anonymous hatchback.
The cheapest one we found at the time of writing is a mere 34,000-miler up for sale privately at what looks like a rather nice residence in Warrington. An early model on a 2014 plate, if it’s been serviced properly it’s a steal at £35,000. The advert is low on pictures, though, and absolutely empty of words, so instead we’ve picked out a fetching white example being offered at £38,500 in Luton. Barely any more used, with 39,100 miles showing, it has 11 months’ BMW warranty, 12 months’ MOT and a host of tasty options.
An i8 can take you to Monaco’s finest hotels without triggering a security code red. It can bring your groceries home from Waitrose in comfort and style. It can even smash a few laps of Castle Combe, if you like. It can do all the things that, say, a Golf GTI can do, and much more besides. It’s also arguably the landmark everyday sports-hybrid. If you can, you most definitely should.