Grace, Space, and I-pace

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Ferdi de Vos Im­ages © Jaguar Cars

With­out the soul­ful, sonorous, six-cylin­der growl of an XK petrol engine (or a new V8, for that mat­ter), will the first all-elec­tric model from Jaguar still con­vey the spirit, the heart, the char­ac­ter, the essence of the Coven­try brand? That is the ques­tion I pon­dered while wing­ing my way to­wards Por­tu­gal for the world launch of the new I-pace, the silent Suv-like new­comer from Jaguar.

First Im­pres­sions

Nor­mally, our first emo­tional touch-point with cars, be­sides looks, is sound. The more pow­er­ful and rau­cous, the bet­ter, since it is an in­di­ca­tion of its po­ten­tial, its en­ergy. So, sit­ting in a car that ut­tered no sound – no roar, no howl, noth­ing – from a brand fa­mous for its pow­er­ful growl, was some­what ironic and ever so slightly dis­ap­point­ing. It did noth­ing to es­tab­lish that vi­tal con­nec­tion be­tween car and driver, as its mute­ness gave no tan­gi­ble clue to its abil­ity.

At least it was at­trac­tive – larger than an­tic­i­pated, but with sim­ple, el­e­gantly flow­ing lines. Its cab-for­ward design, long wheel­base, and huge wheels con­trib­ute to the il­lu­sion of it be­ing smaller, while in re­al­ity it is slightly larger, but in­cre­men­tally lower, than the E-pace.

It is also slightly longer than the Tesla Model S and X with a 30 mm longer wheel­base – giv­ing it an ad­van­tage in terms of in­te­rior space and pack­ag­ing. This is also why the Jaguar design team went for an Suv-type design, tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the elec­tric pow­er­train ar­chi­tec­ture and max­imis­ing the po­ten­tial of the pack­ag­ing ben­e­fits it brings.

Its coupé-like sil­hou­ette, with a short, low bon­net, aero-en­hanced roof design, and curved rear screen was in­flu­enced by the Jaguar C-X75 su­per­car. This con­trasts with a squared-off rear, which helps re­duce drag to just 0.29 Cd. To op­ti­mise the bal­ance be­tween cool­ing and aero­dy­nam­ics, Ac­tive Vanes in the to­ken “grille” open when cool­ing is re­quired, but closed when not needed, redi­rect­ing air through the in­te­gral bon­net scoop to fur­ther smooth the air­flow.

While Jaguar clas­si­fies it as a mid­sized SUV, the I-pace has in­te­rior space com­pa­ra­ble to that of a large SUV, with a full 890 mm of leg-room 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).

Abil­ity

The I-pace may be silent, but it has abil­ity – at least on pa­per. With a 90 kwh Lithi­u­mion 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 is a lot, 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. How­ever, the real beauty lies in how it is achieved.

There is no drama. No noise. No whin­ing gears or turbo whis­tle. It is smooth and lin­ear as each mo­tor – fit­ting con­cen­tri­cally around a com­pact, sin­gle-speed epicyclic trans­mis­sion and dif­fer­en­tial – en­ables in­stant and pre­cise torque distri­bu­tion to the wheels. You feel that surge, and it is strangely ex­cit­ing. There is some noise, elec­tron­i­cally in­duced, fake noise, and barely au­di­ble as the speed in­creases. It can be am­pli­fied, but it is not over­pow­er­ing.

When re­vers­ing, it also pro­duces a warn­ing sound, much like that of a truck, and ac­cord­ing to Jaguar it can also be pro­grammed to emit sound while mov­ing for­ward at slow speeds.

Top speed is lim­ited to 200 km/h, as driv­ing at full tilt se­ri­ously lim­its the range of the bat­tery pack. At sen­si­ble cruis­ing speed us­ing Eco mode, the I-pace can de­liver a range of up to 480 km (WLTP cy­cle) be­fore recharg­ing. The au­tomaker also claims it is pos­si­ble to achieve a bat­tery charge from empty to 80% in just 40 min­utes us­ing DC rapid charg­ing (100 kwh), or top up an ad­di­tional 100 km in as lit­tle as 15 min­utes. Al­ter­na­tively, home charg­ing with an AC wall box (7 kwh) will take the I-pace from empty to 80% in just over 10 hours.

En­gag­ing

With a low cen­tre of grav­ity and 50:50 weight distri­bu­tion, al­lied to a stiff

alu­minium chas­sis with tor­sional rigid­ity of 36 knm/de­gree – the high­est of any Jaguar – the I-pace felt lithe, com­posed, and planted on the sweep­ing, un­du­lat­ing Al­garve roads. Aided by a com­pact and lightweight – and op­tional – air sus­pen­sion with Adap­tive Dy­nam­ics, vari­able damp­ing and self-lev­el­ling gave the EV sur­pris­ingly high lev­els of bal­ance and agility. Even on low-pro­file 22” rub­ber its ride com­fort was a rev­e­la­tion (mostly owing to its long wheel­base). But it took a while to get used to the higher level of de­cel­er­a­tion in­her­ent to its brake sys­tem, with an elec­tric booster that gives it flex­i­bil­ity when blend­ing (high or low) re­gen­er­a­tive and me­chan­i­cal brak­ing.

Even more en­dear­ing was the on-road and off-road ver­sa­til­ity of the I-pace. On a care­fully laid-out gravel route, af­ter se­lect­ing the set­tings for off-road driv­ing (lift­ing the body), the I-pace ne­go­ti­ated a wa­ter ob­sta­cle with ease, thanks to a wad­ing depth of 500 mm. With its short over­hangs and rel­a­tively good turn­ing cir­cle, it also con­fi­dently ne­go­ti­ated the tighter sec­tions of the snaking dirt track. But per­haps the most im­pres­sive was the ease with which it climbed up a steep in­cline, its huge torque and fully in­de­pen­dent all-wheel drive sys­tem mak­ing it sim­ple.

It also brims with new tech­nol­ogy, be­ing the first Jaguar to in­cor­po­rate the Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem which fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of touch­screens, ca­pac­i­tive sen­sors, and tac­tile-phys­i­cal con­trols to op­er­ate key func­tions. This sys­tem, while quite in­tri­cate with its mul­ti­ple menu lay­ers, is ac­cu­rate and works well, and a full-colour head-up dis­play (HUD) is sup­ported by a 12” In­ter­ac­tive Driver Dis­play be­hind the steer­ing wheel.

The EV Nav­i­ga­tion fac­tors in the to­pog­ra­phy of planned routes to cal­cu­late avail­able range, and can also sync with a smart­phone travel app, mak­ing jour­ney plan­ning easy. Its Smart Set­tings also al­lows it to learn your driv­ing habits and an­tic­i­pate your needs.

Elec­tri­fy­ing

Af­ter two days’ driv­ing on an ex­ten­sive se­lec­tion of Al­garve roads – tech­ni­cal cor­ners on the flat as­phalt of the in­ter­na­tional race­track, twist­ing and wind­ing roads be­tween the towns of Faro and La­gos, and a chal­leng­ing off-road course I found a real con­nec­tion with the I-pace.

Built in Aus­tria as part of a man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Magna Steyr, this quiet Coven­try cat could soon be growl­ing loud­est of all to be the one cre­at­ing huge noise for Jaguar in fu­ture.

The I-pace is now avail­able in Europe in S, SE, and HSE trim. It is priced from R1,074,757 (at cur­rent ex­change rates) that in­cludes an eight-year bat­tery war­ranty. It is sched­uled for launch in South Africa in mid-2019.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.