15 Jun: Jaguar I-Pace Electric

… Jaguar I-Pace Electric S …

Scottish motoring journalists were amongst the first people in the UK to drive the new Jaguar I-Pace last weekend. This was a special treat which Jaguar had lined up for guests attending the Jaguar sponsored Jim Clark Award last Saturday at Mar Hall.

Outwardly there is nothing to give away what lies under the bonnet (and rump!), unless you count the absence of exhaust pipes, but many cars these days hide the tailpipe under the rear valance anyway. It all looks terribly normal and commonplace, although there is one little clue – the ‘fuel filler’ flap is mounted in the n/s front wing. Inwardly there is nothing to give the game away either.

Mind you when I say the inside looks ‘normal’, I mean it has a steering wheel, dashboard and central console, but this is a Jaguar so think ‘luxury normal’. But again, there is a tell-tale sign that all is not quite ‘normal’. There is no centrally mounted gearshift. It has been replaced by a button type switch marked D/N/R. N is for Neutral of course with D for drive and R for reverse. And that’s it.

Push the dash mounted starter button, and nothing happens, apart from the three flush mounted screens on the dash lighting up. Press the Drive button and still nothing happens, although the system is actually primed. One press of the accelerator, the electronic parking brakes releases and the car moves off – rather quickly – in complete silence. Eerie.

So I took it for a birl. If you’ve ever driven an electric car before you’ll know that the initial step-off can be a bit brisk. That’s because the power is pretty much instant, especially so in the case of the I-Pace. It has two electric motors, one at the front and another at the rear with the huge battery pack slung between them under the floor. Together they provide some 395bhp which drives through all four wheels.

The battery pack comprises 432 high energy density, Lithium-ion pouch cells and incorporates rapid charging technology. Jaguar claim a range of 298 miles with braking regeneration allowing some additional power to be generated on the move. If you are out and about a 15 minute ‘top-up’ charge could generate another 60 miles worth of driving. That should alleviate some of the ‘range anxiety’ concerns that might deter some folk from seriously considering the purchase of an electric motor car.

A 300 mile ‘fuel tank’ range therefore makes the idea of an electric car genuinely appealing and practical.

There is another consideration. This Jaguar is quick. Nought to 60 in 4.5 seconds, and it handles. Admittedly the battery pack adds some 300 kgs to the kerb weight of the machine but because it is placed low down between the axles, it enhances road-grip. This thing can be hustled round bends indecently quickly. There is very little body roll and it corners as if on rails. Ride quality on 18 inch rims is superb but on the 20 inch options, you have to make an allowance for pot-holes, manhole covers, thick white lines and hairy caterpillars. The trouble is, the car looks a million dollars on those larger diameter rims!

The third reason for considering an I-Pace is the interior. It is what you’d expect of a Jaguar, and then some. In this case, the test car had the 4 grand Performance heated/cooled front seats and heated rear seats. Even with the standard seats this is a car which cossets and caresses all the right bits so comfort is assured.

Then there is the electronic dash displays, three of them, and they can all be independently controlled to display a bewildering concoction of colours, diagrams and information. This would keep a 7 year old absorbed for days. But for us older gits, the basics are there even if you might need a bit of help to find them, or god forbid, have to look at the User’s Manual – always the last resort of the alpha male.

Speaking of 7 year olds, this being the year 2018 and mobile phones control (interfere with?) our lives, the I-Pace incorporates the whole connectivity business – and more. Some functions can be controlled from your phone such as heating it up on a cold winter’s morning while you are still supping your porridge in the kitchen. And if you run out of functions and commands there are 3 x 12v and 6 x USB sockets to plug in even more of the electronic ‘marvels’ of our age.

And if you can’t manage the functions yourself, apparently it can be hooked up to that housebound personal assistant and know-all ‘Alexa’ that is spying/intruding on private lives all over the country. There’s also a system called ‘HomeLink Connect’ which allows you to access the house heating, lights, doors and anything else that is wirelessly connected in your home. But it can’t take the dog for a walk – yet!

Having driven the car briefly on the back roads behind Greenock, Kilmacolm and Bridge of Weir, the verdict is entirely positive. The pace is electric, the silence uncanny. At the conclusion of the drive I was asked what I thought. There was no need to make any concession for the electric motors or drivetrain. This drives and handles like you’d expect from a Jaguar while providing the comfort and feedback you take for granted. No buts, no ifs, this is a Jaguar.

Mind you, it would be nice to have the car for a week for a much fuller appraisal. I just wonder if I could live with an electric car. On this basis, it is seriously promising.

There is just one teensy weensy hiccup in the whole scheme. The price. The price list starts from £63, 495 but this one had over £10,450 poundsworth of extras! Personally I could save a couple of grand here though and go for the 18 inch wheels! That has more to do with age than fashion.

  • Review Date: June 15, 2018
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