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With the advent of the electric car era ever closer over the horizon, the chorus of car enthusiast voices predicting the death of driving fun has gotten ever louder. Electrified cars, they say, lack emotion; they are no fun to drive; they don’t sound good; and they are all appliances on wheels. These people all need to spend time in a BMW i8, a car that provides ample reassurance that not only is the electrified future bright, but that driving fun can happily co-exist with technology and efficiency.

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On paper, the i8 – seen here in $170,650 roadster form, though I find the coupe the more attractive version, for significantly less money – is a curious thing. It combines a large battery pack and electric motor with a highly-pressurized turbo three-cylinder for a total of 374 combined horsepower, which is some way off of what most cars in its price range now develop. The transmission is a conventional automatic, the dampers have no adjustability, and while the tires are appropriately low-profile, their width would better suit an economy car than a sports car.

Look past the drivetrain, though, and the i8 is pure supercar. BMW’s “LifeDrive” architecture combines a lightweight aluminum frame for the engine, gearbox, and suspension with an ultra-light carbon-fibre passenger cell, the same as you’d find in McLarens costing twice as much, and Paganis costing 20 times as much. Despite the weight of the batteries you’re toting around, weight is just around 1,500 kg – less than some conventional sports cars on the market. Thanks to the carbon cell, cutting the roof off for the roadster version has virtually no effect on rigidity or refinement, either.

Browse our BMW I inventory.

The combined effect of all this is a futuristic sports car that is truly, truly entertaining to drive – not “for an electric car,” or “for a hybrid,” but full stop. Thanks to the electric motor’s instantaneous torque, the i8 surges off the line feeling far faster than its 4.4-second official figure would suggest, and the turbo triple provides ample urge at higher speeds. The combination of the two with the automatic transmission gives the i8 a smooth, seamless feel that’s very different from the rush-pause-gearchange-rush effect you get in more conventional sports cars – but it’s equally enjoyable.

That much, you were probably expecting; what you might not is the brilliance of the i8’s chassis. Sure, the actual cornering limits aren’t as high as you’d get in a Porsche or AMG Mercedes (or indeed BMW M car) with steamroller tires, but you can maintain a wonderful rhythm through bends. The lightweight chassis means the i8 is incredibly agile at any speed, whether you’re wheeling around downtown streets or sailing through high-speed bends. Most impressively, thanks to the narrow tires, steering feel is flat-out wonderful, with a level of detail and sensitivity that reminds you of the best cars from 20 years ago, and which have been lost in even some of the finest contemporary sports cars.

Browse our BMW I inventory.

Instead of leaning on supercar tropes for the i8’s styling, BMW has given it a futuristic look that reflects the sophistication of its technology: it’s a festival of floating panels, creases, and negative space like nothing on the road. While I don’t actually consider it to be a beautiful car, it’s endlessly intriguing to look at, revealing more details the more you look at it, and the quality of the construction is superb. Crack open the billionaire-spec dihedral doors, and there’s plenty of room for two (though I do wish the seats would go a bit lower), ample storage space, and a digital dash that includes wireless CarPlay and adjustable ambient lighting.

BMW doesn’t sell a lot of i8s. It’s a much rarer sight on our roads than similarly-priced conventionally-powered sports cars from its German, British, and even American competitors. Perhaps people don’t quite understand the value of its impressive technology; perhaps they find its styling a little strange; or perhaps they’re just not interested in an expensive sports car that doesn’t make a lot of noise (though the i8 sounds amazing) or that doesn’t destroy rear tires.

Browse our BMW I inventory.

The i8 then, is certainly a left-field choice, but if you’re in the market, it’s more deserving of consideration than you’re probably willing to give it – and its spaceship looks come with guaranteed exclusivity while still wrapping the BMW quality and solidity you’d expect.