Ex­plor­ing the Al­garve

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Ferdi de Vos | Im­ages © Jaguar Cars

Ly­ing on a deck chair on the huge pa­tio of a man­sion de­signed by a South African born ar­chi­tect in the ex­clu­sive Quinta do Lago re­sort, Ferdi de Vos re­flected on his ex­pe­ri­ence with the new all-elec­tric Jaguar I-pace on the curvy roads of the pic­turesque Al­garve re­gion.

“To­day the rich and di­verse his­tory and out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty of the Al­garve at­tracts over 7,1 mil­lion tourists per an­num.”

Ah, the beau­ti­ful Al­garve. Nowa­days con­sid­ered the big­gest and most im­por­tant tourist re­gion in Por­tu­gal, sought af­ter as a per­ma­nent place to set­tle and re­tire, it was the cra­dle of ever-es­ca­lat­ing ex­plo­rations that fore-showed the Age of Dis­cov­ery in the fif­teenth cen­tury.

It was Henry the Nav­i­ga­tor that set the sails in mo­tion all those years ago, as it was un­der his guid­ance that the lighter, more ma­noeu­vrable car­avel was de­vel­oped with which the Por­tuguese sys­tem­at­i­cally be­gan to ex­plore the Atlantic coast of Africa. Based near La­gos he con­ducted nu­mer­ous mar­itime ex­pe­di­tions, which es­tab­lished the colonies that com­prised the erst­while Por­tuguese Em­pire.

Th­ese jour­neys of dis­cov­ery brought fame and for­tune to La­gos. The town be­came the cap­i­tal of the Al­garve and re­mained so un­til 1755 when it was de­stroyed by a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter known as the Great Lis­bon earth­quake. The earth­quake and ac­com­pa­ny­ing tsunami de­stroyed or dam­aged many towns and vil­lages in the Al­garve (or al-gharb, “the West” in Ara­bic) ex­cept Faro, which was pro­tected by the sandy banks of Ria For­mosa la­goon. This dis­as­ter sig­nalled the end of the dom­i­na­tion of Por­tuguese af­fairs by La­gos.

How­ever, to­day the rich and di­verse his­tory and out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty of the re­gion at­tracts over 7,1 mil­lion tourists per an­num, and with its wind­ing roads it also proved to be the ideal venue for the in­ter­na­tional launch of the first all-elec­tric model from Jaguar, the I-pace.

Ex­plor­ing the power

Nor­mally, it is the pow­er­ful, rau­cous sound of the en­gine of a car that sig­nals its po­ten­tial, its ca­pa­bil­ity. Not so with the 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 is 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.

How­ever, the real beauty lies in how it is achieved. There is no drama. No noise. No whin­ing gears or turbo whis­tle. Its ac­cel­er­a­tion is smooth and lin­ear. Yet, you feel the surge, the swoosh, and this in­tro­duc­tion to a new age of ex­plo­ration – un-tap­ping the po­ten­tial of elec­tric power – and it is strangely ex­cit­ing. Sure, there is some noise; elec­tron­i­cally in­duced fake noise, barely au­di­ble as the speed in­creases. It can be am­pli­fied, emit­ting a sound straight from a Tan­ger­ine Dream sound­track, 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, since driv­ing at full tilt se­ri­ously lim­its the range of the bat­tery pack. But at sen­si­ble cruis­ing speeds 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% just over ten hours.

Set­ting a new pace

Driv­ing through the old sec­tion of Faro, cap­i­tal of the Al­garve re­gion, the I-pace with its short, low bon­net, aero-en­hanced roof de­sign and curved rear screen, jux­ta­posed by a squared-off rear to help re­duce drag to just 0.29Cd, ap­peared de­cid­edly fu­tur­is­tic. Its at­trac­tive coupé-like sil­hou­ette, in­flu­enced by the sleek lines of the C-X75 su­per­car, Suv-type cab for­ward de­sign, long wheel­base, and huge wheels shrouds its size, and while it looks smaller, it is ac­tu­ally slightly larger, yet in­cre­men­tally lower, than an E-pace.

Its aero­dy­nam­ics is fur­ther op­ti­mised by “hid­den fac­ul­ties” such as Ac­tive Vanes in the to­ken Jaguar grille that open when cooling is re­quired, but close when not needed and redi­rects air through an

in­te­gral bon­net scoop to fur­ther smooth the air­flow. 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 up to 656 litres of lug­gage space (1,453 litres with the rear seats folded down).

One only re­alises how much of a pace-set­ter the new elec­tri­fied Cat is af­ter you have ex­plored its lim­its on the un­du­lat­ing and rolling moun­tain­ous roads from Faro to Vil­am­oura. With a low cen­tre of grav­ity, 50:50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion, stiff alu­minium chas­sis, and (op­tional) air sus­pen­sion with Adap­tive Dy­nam­ics it felt as lithe and com­posed, supremely bal­anced and ag­ile, as a car­avel did in the 15th cen­tury, and even on low-pro­file 22-inch rub­ber its ride com­fort was a rev­e­la­tion.

How­ever, it took a while to get used to the higher level of de­cel­er­a­tion in­her­ent to its brak­ing sys­tem, with an elec­tric booster that gives it flex­i­bil­ity when blend­ing (high or low) re­gen­er­a­tive and me­chan­i­cal brak­ing.


Be­sides its on-road prow­ess the I-pace also proved its ver­sa­til­ity off-road. On a care­fully laid-out gravel route not far from La­gos, af­ter se­lect­ing off-road driv­ing mode (lift­ing the body), the I-pace ne­go­ti­ated a wa­ter ob­sta­cle with ease, thanks to a wad­ing depth of 500 mm. It also con­fi­dently ne­go­ti­ated tight sec­tions of the snaking dirt track, but per­haps 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 easy.

The I-pace also brims with tech­nol­ogy, such as the ad­vanced Touch Pro Duo in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with EV Nav­i­ga­tion that fac­tors in the to­pog­ra­phy of planned routes to cal­cu­late avail­able range. It made it easy to silently fol­low the route to our overnight des­ti­na­tion – the ex­quis­ite Casa Mãe bou­tique ho­tel sit­u­ated high up in the old part of La­gos above the scenic Costa Vin­centina coast­line.

The ho­tel con­sists of three build­ings, each with its own at­mos­phere and style. The rooms in the char­ac­ter­ful 19th cen­tury es­tate house has been ren­o­vated with vin­tage fur­ni­ture from all over Por­tu­gal, while the Ca­banas com­bines boho chic and rus­tic Al­garve-ian style with a con­tem­po­rary twist – the choice for those seek­ing bare­foot lux­ury, tran­quil­lity and pri­vacy ...

The new­est build­ing with con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture, on the Jogo da Bola, has spa­cious rooms with a de­sign savvy com­bi­na­tion of min­i­mal­ism and lo­cal crafts with ve­ran­das and bal­conies, ham­mock and loungers. In­gre­di­ents for the de­li­cious indige­nous dishes served by the kitchen is sourced from a well-main­tained veg­etable gar­den on the prop­erty.

Af­ter a re­lax­ing stay at Casa Mãe our des­ti­na­tion fol­low­ing an early morn­ing drive were the ex­clu­sive and pres­ti­gious re­sorts of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago, nestling within the Ria For­mosa na­ture re­serve and pep­pered with ar­chi­tec­tural cre­ations by Jo­han­nes­burg­born and Wits ed­u­cated ar­chi­tect Vasco Vieira. Com­bin­ing de­sign and in­no­va­tion, Vieira has ush­ered in a new era of ar­chi­tec­ture in the Al­garve with works that are con­tem­po­rary, yet still main­tain the essence of the re­gion with his choice of ma­te­ri­als and use of light.

The same ap­plies to the I-pace, as it opens up a new age of ex­plo­ration for ve­hi­cle de­sign and mo­bil­ity. Built in Austria as part of a man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Magna Steyr, the quiet Coven­try Cat is now avail­able in Europe in S, SE, and HSE trim, and priced from R1,074,757 (at cur­rent ex­change rates). It is sched­uled for launch in South Africa in mid-2019.

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