Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - WORDS PETER ROBIN­SON PHOTOS TOM SALT

Nos­tal­gic road­trip with the de­signer of the Jaguar I-pace

THE SIGNIFICANCE of the date was lost on Ian Cal­lum. Jaguar’s March 1, 2018, un­veil­ing of the pro­duc­tion I-pace at Magna’s Aus­trian as­sem­bly fa­cil­ity, oc­curred ex­actly 50 years af­ter Bill Heynes, Jaguar’s Di­rec­tor of En­gi­neer­ing, wrote to the 13-year-old school­boy telling him how to be­come a car de­signer.

Half a cen­tury later, Cal­lum – for 19 years Di­rec­tor of Design at Jaguar – says the beau­ti­ful I-pace is, “my proud­est achieve­ment, ahead of ev­ery­thing else. The [As­ton Martin] DB7 was mon­u­men­tal for me, but it was a con­ven­tional car, beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted.”

What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate the re­mark­able Cal­lum story and the I-pace achieve­ment than to drive Jaguar’s new elec­tric car the 400km from his Whit­ley, Coven­try, design stu­dio to his boy­hood home in Dum­fries, Scot­land?

In re­sponse to my Fe­bru­ary email sug­gest­ing the idea, an en­thu­si­as­tic Cal­lum replied, “I’d love to do that road trip … we can make it hap­pen.”

Hap­pen it did: six months later, with pho­tog­ra­pher Tom Salt along to record the of­ten emo­tional, al­ways fas­ci­nat­ing story of a prodi­gal son’s triumphant home­ward jour­ney, we set off for Scot­land in this most radical of all Jaguars. To show me the fu­ture, Ian Cal­lum is tak­ing me back to his past.

This, my first sight­ing of an I-pace, con­fuses me. How do you de­fine a car with so long a wheel­base and rad­i­cally short over­hangs, that’s just a lit­tle taller than a sedan, but lower than most crossover SUVS? My ad­mis­sion to not be­ing able to clas­sify the I-pace pro­duces a laugh from Ian. “That’s great, be­cause it’s an I-pace rather than eas­ily a de­fin­able car.”

It’s true, though Amer­i­can reg­u­la­tions mean the new Jag is clas­si­fied as an SUV there. The 2990mm wheel­base is 30mm longer than the XF sedan, yet the I-pace is a mas­sive 268mm shorter. A height of 1565mm means it’s about half­way be­tween the F-pace SUV and XF sedan in lofti­ness. The H-point (seat cush­ion height) is 128mm higher than the XE, but 90mm lower than the F-pace and 232mm lower than a Range Rover. Th­ese are new and orig­i­nal pro­por­tions, still with a Jaguar beauty, that in some ways re­mind me of Citroen’s DS. There’s also a de­lib­er­ate echo of the 2010 C-X75 elec­tric su­per­car.

In hushed seren­ity that I ini­tially find sci-fi weird, we de­part: there’s no Jaguar en­gine note to en­joy and vir­tu­ally no road noise, just in­stant and ut­terly seam­less, silent power un­til, at mo­tor­way speeds, a gentle hum from the 22-inch Pirellis in­vades the in­te­rior. Ac­cord­ing to the car’s dig­i­tal read­out we have 350km of range.

First, I want to know more about the design and the cab-for­ward pack­ag­ing.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to design a car like this,” says Cal­lum. “I could see an op­por­tu­nity that you couldn’t do with [com­bus­tion] engines. I wanted to move the oc­cu­pants for­ward, so it doesn’t have a long bon­net, but it’s still a Jaguar.”

How did Jaguar come to beat its Ger­man ri­vals to mar­ket with a main­stream elec­tric car? Cal­lum says that with­out the small mod­els – A1, A-class, 1 Se­ries – of its Ger­man ri­vals, it was im­pos­si­ble for Jaguar to meet fu­ture cor­po­rate av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion and emission tar­gets. A can­did Cal­lum ad­mits, “We con­tem­plated a small car, but the busi­ness case was dif­fi­cult and we know go­ing into part­ner­ship on a small car [with an­other man­u­fac­turer] never works that well ... the move to an elec­tric car was an in­stant so­lu­tion.”

En­ter Wolf­gang Ziebart, a bril­liant EX-BMW en­gi­neer and for­ward thinker, who joined Jaguar as head of prod­uct devel­op­ment in 2013. Cal­lum im­me­di­ately formed a cre­ative bond with his Ger­man col­league. “This is a very sin­gle-minded car be­tween Wolf­gang and me … we’re

to­tally aligned.” Orig­i­nally the elec­tric car was al­lied to the XE, but the ex­pe­ri­enced Ziebart knew an ex­ist­ing plat­form wouldn’t work and that the elec­tric car had to be a ground-up devel­op­ment.

The I-pace started with the wheel­base, and that was de­ter­mined by the size of the 36 lithium-ion bat­tery mod­ules, flat­mounted un­der the floor with front and rear syn­chro­nous elec­tric mo­tors at each end.

“When we started the project in the [north­ern] sum­mer of 2014 there were doubters, in­clud­ing some de­sign­ers,” re­lates Cal­lum. “I sat down with Matt Beaven [chief exterior de­signer in Jaguar’s ad­vanced stu­dio] and we sketched around the hard-points. Two or three weeks later we had a CAD model. We only did one design, with slight vari­a­tions, that we took to clay.” Ian ad­mits the de­sign­ers looked at one al­ter­na­tive with a boot, “es­pe­cially for the Chi­nese mar­ket, but it didn’t work”. Later, pack­ag­ing re­quire­ments de­manded they pull the A-pil­lars 15mm rear­wards.

Few de­sign­ers are as can­did as Ian Cal­lum. “This is our most sig­nif­i­cant car: the F-type is beau­ti­ful, but the I-pace chal­lenges the sta­tus quo. I don’t see why this couldn’t be the tem­plate for all our cars.”

Aero­dy­nam­ics also played a huge part and pro­duced some in­ter­est­ing ap­proaches, not the least bend­ing in the top third of the grille and open­ing up a gap at the rear of the bon­net area. This pushes air through un­der the bon­net and over the huge ex­panse of wind­screen and roof to the rear rooftop spoiler, that’s es­sen­tial to di­rect­ing air down the rear (while adding sta­bil­ity). Rain and swirling dust are kept off the back win­dow, elim­i­nat­ing the need for a rear wiper, though a very shal­low rear screen means rear vis­i­bil­ity is neg­a­tively im­pacted, mak­ing the re­vers­ing cam­era es­sen­tial. The drag co-ef­fi­cient of 0.29 is a trib­ute to Jaguar’s abil­ity to re­fine the aero by CAD, the num­bers later ver­i­fied by the wind tun­nel to be at least 95 per­cent ac­cu­rate.

A 90-minute stop is planned for the Lan­caster servo, over half­way to Dum­fries. Time for lunch and, more im­por­tantly, to recharge the I-pace. By the time we find the charg­ing sta­tion, the Jag (range 480km) has cov­ered 224kms with 52 per­cent of the range re­main­ing. The charger is limited to 45 min­utes only, suf­fi­cient if this was one of the newer 100kw mod­els (they give an 80 per­cent charge af­ter just 40 min­utes), but it’s an old 50kw charger. We leave know­ing we’ll need an­other charge. Fur­ther experience re­veals that even in the UK, which is far in ad­vance of Aus­tralia, there is no get­ting around the fact that the charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture is not yet to mass­mar­ket stan­dards.

My turn at the wheel con­firms first im­pres­sions from the pas­sen­ger seat: true re­fine­ment, a superb low-speed ride (vastly bet­ter than the F-pace), and roomy to the ex­tent that a bench front seat ver­sion is doable. This is a com­fort­able in­te­rior with a stylish dash­board that shares var­i­ous


con­trols with the Land Rover Ve­lar. I’m im­me­di­ately aware of the ef­fort­lessly quick per­for­mance thanks to its zero-rpm peak torque. Even at half-throt­tle, this is a point-and-shoot car that ex­poses gaps in traf­fic. Nor does the power re­lent at higher speeds. The re­gen­er­a­tive brakes are bril­liant. In high-re­gen mode they slow the car so quickly when you lift off, the disc brakes are al­most su­per­flu­ous. Af­ter half a day’s driv­ing I’m in love with the one-pedal driv­ing style.

Not for the first time Ian’s phone vi­brates. Ross Brawn, now man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of F1 mo­tor­sport, wants an I-pace. Yes, Cal­lum is well con­nected.

We take the A75 exit from the M6 mo­tor­way. Ian, very much at home, nav­i­gates us down into the val­ley and Dum­fries, point­ing out where he rode his bike through the hills. The loss of three ma­jor em­ploy­ers means Dum­fries is a town in gentle de­cline. Then we’re out­side the Cal­lum’s mod­est fam­ily home, across the road from the pri­mary school. Ian’s voice goes quiet as he walks up to the gate. “I used to stand here and watch the cars go by. That’s my bed­room I shared with my brother,” he points to a win­dow. “The drive­way used to be gravel and there were no parked cars on the road.” One day, there’ll be a plaque on this house.

Ian was nine when the fam­ily moved to a grander house over­look­ing the river Nith on the Glen­caple road in Dum­fries. It was from here Ian wrote to Jaguar and re­ceived the fa­mous re­ply from Bill Heynes.

“When I left Dum­fries I al­ways wanted to come back in some­thing I’d de­signed,” he re­mem­bers, as we set off for the coast. “And I did, in 1994, in the DB7.”

It was on the road to The An­chor ho­tel in Kipp­ford, on the Sol­way Firth that forms part of the border be­tween Eng­land and Scot­land, that Cal­lum pol­ished his driv­ing skills and first hit 100mph. He was al­ready aware that he could never match the driv­ing lev­els of Scot­land’s best, and he didn’t own a car. An understanding fa­ther al­lowed him to bor­row the fam­ily Vaux­hall Vic­tor, the coke-bot­tle FD (the Poms’ equiv­a­lent of a LC To­rana).

The nar­row, hedge-lined road wind­ing be­tween farms, through gentle hills, “be­came my train­ing ground as a driver”. The I-pace hugs the apex through a 90-de­gree left-han­der: it’s ob­vi­ous Cal­lum knows the road, this cor­ner and the fol­low­ing hump­back bridge. In the Vic­tor, he says, “we used to try and get air­borne over the hump.” Through a blind right-hand sweeper, Ian stays flat. “I love that cor­ner,” he laughs, the I-pace barely no­tices.

The fol­low­ing day Ian in­tro­duces me to one of Europe’s great roads: the A774 from Dum­fries to Mof­fat, where it be­comes the A701 to Ed­in­burgh. This “scenic route to Ed­in­burgh” is pop­u­lar with bik­ers and, be­cause it’s been re­placed by a mo­tor­way, is sel­dom used by trav­ellers. A fast, wind­ing, two-laner, the black­top clings to the un­du­lat­ing hills as it climbs to the Devil’s

Beef Tub where, cen­turies ago, the Scots hid cat­tle from the Bri­tish. You should drive this road, be­cause it is uniquely beau­ti­ful.

Grow­ing up, Cal­lum re­mem­bers hear­ing sto­ries of fel­low Scot Jim Clark – twice F1 world drivers cham­pion – set­ting per­sonal records on the road from his farm in Duns for the 70km to Ed­in­burgh. Even­tu­ally, Clark got down to 30 min­utes. If Clark could turn roads into race tracks, Ian thought, why not, tim­ing his jour­neys from the Dum­fries’ end-30mph sym­bol to Ed­in­burgh’s first 30mph limit. His best ef­fort, again in dad’s Vaux­hall, was just un­der an hour.

“It was just in­sane, re­ally,” he ad­mits today. “I’ll prob­a­bly get ar­rested now if you write this. Some­body once said to me, ‘the trou­ble is, Ian, one day you’re go­ing to meet your­self com­ing the other way.’”

On this road, with its long sight lines, it’s also un­der­stand­able, as the I-pace proves. We’re not out to break Ian’s record, yet the air-sus­pended I-pace proves so will­ing and handy that it’s ut­terly bril­liant. It grips, rides, and turns, with gentle body­roll the first in­di­ca­tion of se­ri­ously hard driv­ing.

The low cen­tre of grav­ity is ob­vi­ous; equally im­por­tant is the in­stant whoosh of power as it jets out of cor­ners and dis­plays an agility that be­lies the car’s near-2200kg weight. I’m left to con­jec­ture about the pos­si­bil­ity the XJ and F-type re­place­ments could be elec­tric. Cal­lum merely smiles and we move on to an­other sub­ject, but it seems to me that, with fu­ture smaller and lighter bat­ter­ies, two- and four-seat elec­tric F-types are a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity.

Ed­in­burgh, where his beloved grand­fa­ther lived, was Ian’s lo­cal city, so the road from Dum­fries is to­tally fa­mil­iar. “I thought all roads were like this,” he muses. Over the years, he’s come back in his F-type, Van­quish, DB7 and, now, the I-pace.

In the 53 years since Cal­lum last vis­ited this area of Ed­in­burgh, lit­tle has changed apart from new stands at the Mur­ray­field Sta­dium. We see the rugby ground be­fore we sight the car show­room. Once Rossleigh Jaguar, it’s now a pros­per­ous Rolls-royce deal­er­ship.

“Oh my good­ness,” ex­claims Ian. “Oh, my good­ness.” He re­peats the phrase six times. “That’s where I first saw an E-type.”

We turn the I-pace first right into Or­mi­dale Ter­race. As we pass his grand­fa­ther’s house, Ian’s voice mo­men­tar­ily breaks, “It used to be huge.”

In all the emo­tion, he’s taken back and ex­plains that there is a large gar­den be­hind. Then there’s an­other story of an in­flu­en­tial car from his youth: a neigh­bour drove a Bent­ley. Open a door and there was, “an ex­panse of two-tone grey leather. I re­mem­ber think­ing how nice, how dis­ci­plined, it looked.”

Pho­tog­ra­pher Tom Salt is keen to re­turn to the RR dealer where ‘show­room host’ Jill Baike is wel­com­ing. Af­ter hear­ing our story she passes on the in­for­ma­tion to other staff.

“You mean Ian Cal­lum is in here, in our show­room?” Com­pany driver Neil Ogilvie can’t be­lieve it. “The Ian Cal­lum?”

Cal­lum and Ogilvie part friends, while I’m left to rush to the air­port to catch my flight and pon­der two re­mark­able days.

Come Au­gust, Cal­lum’s I-pace ar­rives, suc­ces­sor to his cur­rent 423kw F-type SVR. It’s no crit­i­cism of the F-type to say he can’t wait. The fu­ture has ar­rived. This is a real Jaguar that hap­pens to be elec­tric.



Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.