Outspoken petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson revealed on Sunday’s Top Gear (Series 22, Episode 4) that he would choose the BMW i8 over the new BMW M3 and said that “in sport mode the i8 is properly fast” going on to say, “that car is staggering, it is breath-taking!”Jeremy Clarkson

BMW’s i8 is a type of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) which is capable of running on pure electric while there is charge in the battery but also has an auxiliary petrol engine (a compact 1.5 litre 3 cylinder turbo charged unit) which can provide charge to the battery or directly power the rear wheels while the electric motor powers the front wheels.

The car is capable of 155mph and has a claimed economy of 134 mpg. However, when driven by Clarkson (at some considerable speeds) he only managed 31mpg! His conclusion was these types of car are the future and “on the right road but not there yet”.

To have Clarkson endorse this as the future, given his lack of enthusiasm for electric and hybrid technology in the past, was a pleasant surprise. There has definitely been a very positive shift in the public perceptions towards electric cars over the past year, so the Top Gear program with its worldwide following may just have helped to accelerate this trend further. Well done Jezza – never though I would say that!