‘There are times when the rumble of a V8 is reassuring’
Pushing the limits of ‘Jaguar’s most significant car since the E-type’ proves a stressful experience. But there’s a classic outcome at the end of it all
This was my challenge. A roundtrip of 211 miles to view a ’65 Alfa Giulia Spider 1600 in a slim four-hour time window and be back in time to pick up my 13-year-old daughter from school netball practice. I needed wheels that were fast, dependable and cool (it was 29 degrees) and leaving my daughter waiting wasn’t an option.
I didn’t fancy hammering the Corniche or Mustang all that way in the heat so the choice was between a Range Rover Autobiography or a new electric Jaguar I-pace that had arrived that morning on test. A more responsible parent would have taken the former. Ice-cold aircon and a turbocharged 4.4-litre that never surrenders. But no. I chose the I-pace.
My reasons felt good at the time. I was one the first journalists to drive Jaguar’s new electric SUV on UK roads away from its recent glitzy launch in Portugal. The ‘real-world’ battery range was claimed to be around 250 miles. Could I prove that distance was possible at brisk motorway speeds with the air-con at full tilt without stopping to recharge? Quoted battery ranges on EVS are notoriously optimistic so this experiment carried a heavy risk. The I-pace is Jaguar’s most significant car since the E-type, and proving it can build a Tesla rival that has soul, sensuality and passion is a big deal. Running out of volts on the hard shoulder would have been a disaster with tabloid implications...
With the battery fully charged I hurled the I-pace down the M40 towards London. Things began well. Sweet steering, crisp turn in, flat cornering stance, epic acceleration and gorgeous detailing. The I-pace is the world’s most sensuous EV by a hefty margin; another of Jag designer Ian Callum’s brilliant creations. But none of that mattered because that day all I could feel was a deadly, climbing range anxiety. Fate threw everything at me. Constipated traffic, an industrial estate I couldn’t find and it was so hot I could only turn the air-con off for a few minutes at a time.
I arrived at the Alfa’s location with 141 miles of range left. The Giulia was stunning, a freshly restored gem I couldn’t fault with £90k of recent bills. And a rare original rhd Spider with factory five-speed and front discs to boot. After one of the fastest inspections ever, I made my offer and climbed fearfully back into the I-pace.
More queues, jams and stress. By the time I was back on the M40 the battery indicator had fallen to 120 miles, home was still 80 miles away, the margin for error was closing and time was running out. As I hit my exit I had only 50 miles of battery left. Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned into my drive with 39 miles remaining.
All my angst was completely misplaced because the I-pace does what it says on the tin and I’d proved it – 211 motorway miles, mostly air-conditioned, and hardly hanging about either. Did I commit one last act of total irresponsibility to eke out those last 30-odd miles and head for my daughter’s school in the Jag? In a moment of uncharacteristic caution, I plugged the I-pace into my wall charger, lowered the Mustang’s convertible top and gunned it.
There are times in this high-tech world when the eager rumble of a full-fat, castiron V8 sounds particularly reassuring.
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