A Used BMW i8 Is the Supercar for Everyone

You can get a used i8 for about half its original sticker price, and it's still a massively impressive machine.

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Evan Klein

A funny thing happened over the past five years or so, while almost nobody was looking: Supercars stopped depreciating in any tangible fashion. Let's say you want a 2015 Lamborghini Huracan. This was a $250,000 car new, depending on how crazy you got with the options book. Today, they're fetching about $215,000 in most cases. If you're willing to catch up on some maintenance, you can probably find one with some miles on the clock for $190,000 or thereabouts.

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Given that the current Huracan looks exactly like the 2015 model, this value retention actually makes a little bit of sense. What about the Ferrari 458 Italia, which has been displaced by the turbocharged 488GTB? Half-decent 2014 examples are still within a Ford Fiesta's MSRP of their original list. Some of that is due to the difficulty of getting on a Ferrari dealer's new-car buyer list, but if that were the only factor involved then I wouldn't see pre-update Porsche 911 GT3s still fetching real money.

We can leave the reasons for this decelerated depreciation to the economists, who might have something to say about "quantitative easing" and "wealth concentration" and all sorts of other ways to tell us that the rich are getting richer while everybody else is kicking rocks. The bottom line is that the pool of potential supercar owners is growing faster than the pool of available supercars, a phenomenon manifestly assisted by the manner in which the Italians and Germans have re-imagined the supercar as an automatic-transmission, power-steering, hi-fi-sound-system-equipped, electronic-nanny-protected doddle to drive. Not everybody can drive a Huracan fast, but pretty much anybody can drive a Huracan to the local Cars and Coffee on a Saturday morning without incident. Try that with a '78 Countach; you'll probably want to have a mechanic on call and a cloudless sky guaranteed from now until the moment you pull back into your Ferris Bueller garage.

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Which is not to say that there are not some great bargains on some very fast cars out there. You can get a 2004 Viper with 500 horsepower and a wickedly competent chassis for about the price of a Camry XSE. Another ten grand would get you the model with 600 horses and variable valve timing, or it would put you behind the wheel of a mint-condition C6-generation Corvette Z06. The v8-powered BMW M3 can be had for reasonable money now, as long as you don't insist on a Lime Rock Edition with 999 miles on the clock. But none of these will get you what '90s rappers called "house on the boulevard." None of them will make you the center of attention. For that, you need one of the depreciation-proof wondercars.

Unless. Unless, that is, you're willing to take an alternative route to street-level superstardom. Allow me to suggest something in the way of a spaceship-aesthetic, butterfly-door-equipped two-seater that looks more futuristic than the Eagle landers from . (Side note: How depressing is it that there was once a TV show called Space: 1999? If anybody from 1970 could have seen the real 1999 in advance, they would have jumped off a bridge.) This car will turn heads wherever you go. It doesn't even need gasoline, as long as you're not planning on driving more than 15 or 20 miles. And it is chock-full of surprise-and-delight features. Best of all, it costs less than a Yukon Denali XL.

I'm referring to the pre-facelift BMW i8. Three years ago, I drove one and was utterly charmed by its futuristic approach to everything, from powertrain configuration to interior lighting. It's not fast the way a 2008 Viper is fast, but it's not far off, clocking a low 12-second quarter-mile while generating hilarious fake engine noises through the stereo to cover up what amount to a Mini Cooper 3-cylinder ker-chunking away behind you.

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It's capable of gliding silently through traffic on battery reserve, and it's also capable of keeping up with most sporty cars down a mountain road despite its considerable weight and oversized wheels. Visibility is half-okay, but this is really a car to be seen in, rather than one to see out of. The flip-up doors are great parking-lot theater and they're remarkably easy to use. The whole car is reassuringly stout, and thanks to the carbon-fiber monocoque cell, it's probably a great place to be should you find yourself in a crash.

Unless you live in Silicon Valley, you won't see yourself coming and going, and while you may have to nod ruefully at the bounders in their 2019 i8 convertibles you can rest secure in the knowledge that 99 percent of humanity cannot tell the difference between the 2015 model and the new hotness. In fact, I'd wager that 98 percent of humanity cannot tell the difference between this and, say, an Aventador.

An Aventador cannot be had for $65,000. An i8 can. Good examples with low mileage are fetching a bit more, but not enough to make your credit-union representative frown. That's about half what it would have cost just three years ago. Normally that kind of depreciation is reserved for rental-fleet specials, but here it is in a road-going flying saucer.

Are there downsides to this delightful state of affairs? You bet. To begin with, this won't be a cheap car to maintain or fix—although compared to, say, a used V10-powered M5 with six figures on the odometer, it might be downright reasonable. Insurance costs will likely reflect the MSRP rather than the current valuation. Last but absolutely not least, the cargo compartment can get hot enough to warp an irreplaceable early vinyl copy of Steely Dan's Aja, as I discovered to my sorrow three years ago.

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None of that will matter when you're rolling past the gastropubs in electric mode, absorbing the admiring glances from passers-by. Put it on your Tinder profile, but don't forget to mention that it's a hybrid. Feel free to street-drag the kids in their Mustangs and rally-replicas, but make sure you have a full battery charge and that the instrument panel is lit up in Sport Mode red, not Eco blue, before issuing the challenge. It's all the joy of a supercar with little of the expense. And every time you see a Huracan owner at Cars and Coffee, you can bask in the knowledge that you got yours at a discount. Supercar, super deal. Super good.

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