Is this the most important car of 2014?
Surely Venice Beach – California’s longtime centre of the humous-fed and the countercultural – shouldn’t go quite so big on a $300,000 German sports car. But by 8am, as the place blinks itself awake, the i8 is already driving people berserk. “Woo, that’s sick, man,” offers an early-rising surfer. “Is it a 2014 or a 2015? It’s a hybrid? Runs on energy an’ all that? Tesla ain’t got s**t on this, man.” OK, he might not be entirely up to speed on the physics of the topic, but round here alternative-propulsion cars are hot, and one that looks like the i8 is hot squared.
Which is all very fine if you commute on a skateboard, but Venice Beach can’t expose whether the i8 passes muster to the TopGear mindset. We need to be clear of traffic and onlookers. Thirty kilometres away, the Santa Monica mountains rise from the coast. So I fold myself inelegantly up, scramble over the i8’s high sill, pull down the wing door, strap in and touch the e-drive button. Silently the i8 glides off in the direction of some of California’s best roads.