The Future is Here
The new Jaguar I-Pace is one of the reasons I am involved in this game. A car so good and advanced that it changes the way we look at the world. For me, it is the car that bring electric to the people, wealthy people mind you, but people nonetheless.
This is the electric car that Tesla would like to build, as in it is not ugly. While Tesla pioneered a lot of the technology, it always wrapped the cars in the sort of skin that makes a statement about being the future. Without spending too much time on Tesla here, you have to admire the work done to make electric cars viable, but you have to fear for its future now that its luxury rivals are entering the game.
The Jaguar is just the first attack. Mercedes has the EQC lined up for Australian launch at the end of this year, Audi’s e-tron quattro should be out in the next month or two and BMW which already has the i8 supercar running around, will add the iX3 late next year. Even Porsche is there too, with an SUV and a sedan coming out in the next year or two.
And that is just the fully electric picture… imagine what is possible with hybrid and plug-in hybrid. And then imagine what the market will be line at the more affordable end of the market. Nissan has the quirky leaf, Hyundai the Ioniq Electric and the Kono Electric, Honda the Urban EV which looks like a modern interpretation of the original Civic and Mini is also going electric, which should prove fun.
The world is changing, and hopefully we’ll get better with green energy so the world can benefit…
But back the Jaguar, and proof that the Indian owned car manufacturer is leading the charge. Every Jaguar and Land Rover model within the next two years with have electric or hybrid options and they are investing heavily in the technology. So expect the change to be fast and exciting. Treat the I-Pace as just the first of its new wave.
The beauty of electric in an SUV body is the way it can be packaged, and the I-Pace does that perfectly. The batteries that power the two electric motors essentially make the floor of the car, meaning all the real weight is down low, while the all-wheel-drive packaging (one motor for the front, one for the rear) give it real purpose and grip when required.
Weight is the enemy of speed in a car, and where it sits defines many of the properties in how the car handles and behaves. So this is more than just moving weight lower, it also about shifting it around too. The engine in the nose has gone as well, so not only does the centre of gravity drop, the weight balance front to rear shifts to neutral, which means understeer is a thing of the past and the handling is just as impressive as the grip. It is no wonder Jaguar has developed a racing series for this car, and it clear places the sport tag in the SUV banner.
The feedback from the mostly drive-by-wire system is perfectly weighted, you know where your wheels are pointing and you feel the bumps in the road as well as the grip available when you are going fast. You can feel the fat tyres scratching for grip, and then you put your foot down and the feel it grabs harder and run.
In terms of interior packaging there are benefits too. No need for bulking transmission tunnels, just that big flat floor. The low roof line doesn’t have as much impact on head room as you’d expect, and even the 190cm son fits in relatively comfortably, although that may not be the case when he finishes growing.
The cargo area is obviously flat and a decent size, but not overly large with the seats folded down but acceptedly big for day-to-day use.
The front seats are sporty and supportive, with soft side bolsters that hold you in place without bruising you. The dash is OK, and in this day and age probably not customisable enough for a car at this price point, but out test car did have the optional heads-up display which to my eyes is an essential addition to the modern car.
It does get the two-screen concept pioneered on the Range Rover Velar which we drove last year. The functionality of these screens are perhaps the best in the business, as well as looking good too as they form a focal point of the interior design. It is a nice place to sit, with curves, shapes and colours carrying the concept of inner beauty.
All the safety gear you want is there, including blind spot monitoring, so that ticks off that box and we can move on.
But now a little more on the road, and the differences between electric cars and internal combustion. Range Anxiety is what is has been called, and that is how you feel when you worry about getting enough charge in the car to drive far enough. If you bought one of these, you would be crazy not to spend the extra money (less than $3k) to get a charging station installed at home, and then each night while to you eat your favourite curry or pizza, the Jag will just charge away while plugged in.
Without that unit, it will still charge but it may not get fully charged. There are now car parks in the city that have the charging units, and if you choose well it is even free. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can use the Tesla charging stations at Chadstone, they will only charge a Tesla which strikes me as silly and limiting going forward as more electric cars appear.
For the week I had the car, my electricity bill jumped by $25, which is less than a week of petrol would have cost me. There is one last trick on charging too, and that is you can set the regenerative braking from low to high, with the high level set you get plenty of charge back into the system, but it feels like you’ve jumped on the brakes when you lift of the accelerator, which in some driving is too intrusive, so a quick play with the system changes it all round.
This car does require a slight rethink. When you turn it on there is no noise. When you drive away, there is no noise (unless you at the muted fake engine sound running though the sound system), just amazingly rapid acceleration. The nature of electric means instant torque and instant acceleration, none of this tedious building of revs and acceleration. And there’s an eight year warranty on the batteries too, which is impressively long but does leave open question about the life cycle which we’ll answer for you in a few years.
For the moment, though, you’ll just have to sit back and embrace the performance of what is a quick car, a very quick car.
This is my sort of car. Quick and exciting with handling that is sublime, so capable it has its own racing series. It is drop dead gorgeous and above it is the start of the next wave in automobile history, and I’ve been waiting for a car like this for many years. This is the future of the car, pay attention.
As an SUV it is a game changer in packaging and performance. It is an electric car that shows you don’t have to be ugly or make a sci-fi statement in design. It looks like a Jaguar, and that is a good thing.
If this doesn’t scoop the car of the year awards in 2019, there is either something very impressive coming or the desire for an internal combustion engine still rules for some. Or perhaps it will be the price or the range, which seem the only real drawbacks.
For me though, this is it.
I-Pace – from $120,000
Tesla X – expensive and not very attractive, but bigger and equally as capable
The Benz is coming too!