FIRST FANGS

Brits set to tackle Tesla’s dom­i­nance

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - BY • MATT PRIOR

A Jaguar Project 8, V8 DB11, all-elec­tric Porsche, Benz’s ‘base’ E63 and more

IS THE I-PACE an SUV, a sedan, a coupe or a sports car? Ac­cord­ing to Ian Cal­lum, Jaguar’s de­sign direc­tor, “It doesn’t mat­ter.” He’s prob­a­bly right. Even to ex­pert eyes the lines be­tween dif­fer­ent types of car are blur­ring, so imag­ine how con­fus­ing it is to those who ac­tu­ally spend money on them. All they need to know about the I-Pace is that it’s a 294kW, $119K-plus, bat­tery elec­tric ve­hi­cle (BEV) with a 480km range, and it joins Tesla and a host of plug-in hy­brids as the posh elec­tric ve­hi­cle of choice. Jaguar de­signed and spec­i­fied two mo­tors, the same at each end of the car. There are more than 10 pa­tents on its per­ma­nent mag­net mo­tor, which has the DC-AC in­verter at­tached to it be­cause AC ca­bling needs to be as short as pos­si­ble to be ef­fi­cient. Us­ing two mo­tors en­abled Jaguar to put the wheels where it wanted. With only one axle driven, the rear wheels would have had to be fur­ther for­ward in the body if the car was go­ing to drive half­way nor­mally. Sus­pen­sion is dou­ble wish­bones up front and an in­te­gral link at the rear, with coil springs and pas­sive or adap­tive dampers, or air springs with adap­tive dampers. The I-Pace has all-wheel drive and 50/50 weight distri­bu­tion. The I-Pace is more car-like than a Tesla – it has a key, start but­ton, and a hand­brake on the dash, al­though you’ll prob­a­bly never use it. Push D and pull away us­ing the ‘creep’ func­tion, or use the throt­tle. It’s smooth and quiet. Per­fect for the next-gen Jag XJ… Throt­tle sen­si­tiv­ity can be turned up or down and you can change how much re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing you get. On the higher set­ting there’s so much re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing that Jaguar reck­ons you can dis­pense with 98 per cent of ac­tual brake use, and you quickly get used to do­ing that. It’s why the brakes can be small. Throt­tle re­sponse is about half­way be­tween how ra­zor sharp it could be, and what we’re used to from petrol-pow­ered

cars, so you don’t bunny hop along. In nor­mal driv­ing, the rear mo­tor does the ac­cel­er­at­ing so there’s no steer­ing cor­rup­tion or front-wheel scrabble, and the front one does the re­gen­er­a­tion un­der de­cel­er­a­tion be­cause that’s where the weight shifts. It soon be­comes a dod­dle to drive us­ing only one pedal, all the way to a stop. That en­cour­ages you to drive smoothly and ef­fi­ciently, but don’t for a minute think the I-Pace is slow. Peak torque of 680Nm is avail­able from zero rpm and the mo­tors spin to 13,000rpm (with a sin­gle-speed 9:1 re­duc­tion gear), so over­tak­ing urge is bril­liant and as you ask more of the chas­sis it shuf­fles power – up to half of all avail­able – to any wheel it wants. The I-Pace we drove had the air spring/adap­tive damper setup and it’s not too shabby off-road, ei­ther. We crossed a river (it can wade in wa­ter up to 500mm deep), and climbed a steep gravel hill. Here elec­tric AWD sys­tems have huge po­ten­tial be­cause they can stop and go at will and put as much or lit­tle torque as they want to any wheel. On the track, trail­ing the brakes (ac­tu­ally the brakes and front mo­tor) means the car ro­tates nicely into a cor­ner. Then when you get back on the power, it’s me­tered out pleas­ingly. Weight (2208kg) keeps it from be­ing a real driver’s car, but it’s im­pres­sive. It’s very quiet, but you can turn up the en­hanced ‘whoosh’ noise it makes un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion. Ride qual­ity is a draw­back, though. There’s great weight distri­bu­tion and a low cen­tre of mass, but weight is the peren­nial EV prob­lem. The low cen­tre of grav­ity means roll con­trol is good, but you’re aware of body move­ments. Else­where, though, I-Pace is se­ri­ously re­fined and re­laxed. There’s not much else to dis­like and if a BEV fits your life­style, you’re look­ing at the best of them.

DON’T FOR A MINUTE THINK THE I-PACE IS SLOW. PEAK TORQUE IS AVAIL­ABLE FROM ZERO RPM AND THE MO­TORS SPIN TO 13,000RPM

ABOVE At 2208kg I-Pace is heavy like all BEVs, but its 680Nm of torque, avail­able from zero rpm, makes light work of over­tak­ing OP­PO­SITE De­spite a low cen­tre of grav­ity, ride qual­ity on the road is af­fected by I-Pace’s weight. Off-road, though, the Jag is a rev­e­la­tion

LEFT I-Pace cre­ates so much re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing that ‘nor­mal’ brak­ing is al­most re­dun­dant

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