The name for the widely acknowledged wuxia movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from the year 2000 comes from a Chengyu – a type of traditional Chinese idiomatic expression or set phrase, most of which consist of four characters.
This Chengyu is from a poem of an ancient Chinese poet and describes a place or situation filled with unnoticed “masters” – their abilities and potential veiled, and therefore unrecognised and unsuspected.
Taking this four-character set phrase, one could draw an analogy with the latest cat from Coventry, as without the soulful, sonorous six-cylinder growl of an XK petrol engine (or a new V8), on first encounter much of the latency of Jaguar’s new I-pace stays veiled.
Only after experiencing it does one realise just how much potential is hidden under its quite attractive coupe-like silhouette, influenced by the sleek lines of the C-X75 supercar. The I-pace is larger than anticipated, its Suv-type cab forward design, long wheelbase and huge wheels contributing to the illusion of it being smaller, while in reality it is slightly larger, yet incrementally lower, than an E-pace.
It is also slightly longer than its direct adversaries, the Tesla Model S and X (4.9 and 5.1 metres respectively, versus 4.6 metres for the I-pace), and has a 30 mm longer wheelbase – giving it an advantage in terms of interior space and packaging.
The I-pace’s short, low bonnet, aeroenhanced roof design and curved rear screen, is contrasted by a squared-off rear, which helps reduce drag to just 0.29 Cd. This is further optimised by “hidden faculties” such as the Active Vanes in the token Jaguar grille that opens when cooling is required, but closes when not needed – redirecting air through the integral bonnet scoop to further smooth the airflow.
And while Jaguar classifies the I-pace as a mid-sized SUV, it has interior space comparable to that of a large SUV, with a full 890 mm of legroom at the rear, stowage places for a tablet or laptop beneath the seats, and 656 litres of luggage space (up to 1,453 litres with the rear seats folded down). Hidden Power Normally, the powerful, raucous sound of a car’s engine is a tell-tale sign of its potential; its capability. Not so with the quiet I-pace. With a 90 kwh Lithium-ion battery comprising 432 pouch cells that drives two synchronous permanent magnet electric motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear axle – it produces combined power of 294 kw and 696 Nm of torque. That’s a lot of power, and with its instant torque delivery it delivers sports car type performance; sprinting from 0-100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds – as quick as a BMW X3 M40i or an Audi Q3 RS. So, silent it may be, but “master” ability it has…
However, the real beauty lies in how it is achieved. There’s no drama when sprinting from standstill. No noise. No whining gears or turbo whistle. It is smooth and linear. You feel that surge and the swoosh, and it’s strangely exciting. Okay, there is some noise; electronically induced fake noise, barely audible as the speed