The perfect gift for a milestone moment

The perfect gift for a milestone moment

ALL sorts of motivations influence the cars people buy, but a recent query from an exceptionally well-maintained woman made us smile. Her past five cars, she explained, had been from that rather popular German marque known for its exemplary safety focus. Great cars, but she was over them. On the cusp of a “significant birthday”, she wanted something a little racier. Specifically, she was after a two-seater sports car not only in which to enjoy this next chapter of her life but, more importantly, a car “that the grandkids can’t fit into”.

Her budget could comfortably cover a Madam-Wheels favourite in McLaren’s 570GT, but that was a bit low and fast for her, she said. And there was no way she’d be comfortable in the GT3 version of Porsche’s 911, the only 911 that doesn’t offer space for four. We thought the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT would be perfect - that’s not a car you would get over anytime soon, if ever. But no, she was adamant about changing directions.

Then she raised the subject of electrification, and wondered about the prospect of a hybrid. BMW may just have delivered her ideal ride with an open-topped version of a car designed from the outset to be electric, the i8 Coupe. The new i8 Roadster has just debuted alongside the updated Coupe, which BMW claims is the world’s highest-selling plug-in hybrid sports car. The lady in question might like to be an early-adopter of the topless version to launch herself into her new phase of life.

There are certainly plenty of features to commend the car to such a discerning-cum-adventurous driver. 

We’re yet to see it but, by all accounts, the i8 Roadster shares the best features of the original Coupe version with obvious refinements - its roof comes off, after all - and modernisations. The scissor doors remain, of course, along with the distinctive flat front bonnet and kidney grille. It comes in two new paint colours, too, in hues of either metallic copper or a grey.

'The rear window can be raised enough to deflect wind and maintain a sense of calm in the cockpit. One assumes this car won’t mess up the hairdo, though that is yet to be tested.'

Inside, there will be no need to drop the roof to open the rear window. That can be done independently to let the air flow through on hot days. And when the roof is down, the rear window can be raised enough to deflect wind and maintain a sense of calm in the cockpit. One assumes this car won’t mess up the hairdo, though that is yet to be tested.

 When you really want to get away from the extended family - with or without the significant other, or perhaps with a dear girlfriend for a weekend of laughs - the Roadster includes a unique travel package which brings in electric seats with additional memory functions and a rear storage section with separating element, because we need those. In all, the Roadster provides a total of 92 litres of luggage space, making weekend getaways a real possibility.

Three different interior colour-ways come as standard, changing the car’s contrasting leather combinations and how they’re blended into seat upholstery, door panels, dashboard and steering wheel. And there is all the most current life-changing infotainment and life-maintaining technology on board, too. Even Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is using some of it these days.

As for how far this partially electrically-powered car can go, BMW says around 40km - perhaps less if the driver’s using too much of the electric motor’s output to achieve its maximum speed of 120km/h. Otherwise she could call on the Roadster’s efficient 1.5-litre turbo-charged three-cylinder petrol engine which sips fuel at a rate of 2.4L/100km on the combined cycle. The electric motor also provides a boost function that accelerates the Roadster to 100km/h from a dead stop in just 4.6 seconds. That would surely feel marvellous. 

Conveniently, the BMW i8’s battery pack can be recharged at home or in public via its Type 2 connector. BMW says AC charging to 80 per cent capacity can happen in 2.5 hours at a maximum of 3.7kW. Of course, owners have the option of installing a new generation BMW i Wallbox Plus which should speed things up.

The whole thing is athletic and futuristic, befitting a woman aiming to make the most of what the rest of her life has to offer. So it might be the perfect gift for our birthday girl at $A348,900 (before on-road expenses). The updated i8 Coupe comes in from $318,900.