Editor’s Let­ter

Automobile - - Contents - By Mike Floyd

Our an­nual look into the fu­ture of the car leaves us much more op­ti­mistic than you might think.

“WE CAN­NOT COM­MENT on fu­ture prod­uct.” It’s a line prob­a­bly ut­tered a bil­lion times by au­tomaker reps in re­sponse to bad­ger­ing ques­tions from an­noy­ing auto scribes, in­clud­ing yours truly. Some­times you get a few cryp­tic de­tails or the old wink, wink, nod, nod when you ask some­thing in a side­ways man­ner. No mat­ter how frus­trat­ing it is, you can’t blame them, as they’re only do­ing their jobs.

Ev­ery year, we set out to do ours with our an­nual new and fu­ture cars is­sue, a look at the ve­hi­cles just hit­ting the mar­ket and our best guesses at some of the hot­ness to come (page 36). As we out­line, the par­a­digm is in­deed shift­ing to­ward al­ter­na­tive propul­sion (and even­tu­ally, al­legedly, au­to­ma­tion), but it’s also a mo­ment in au­to­mo­tive time where the spread of op­tions for en­thu­si­asts—es­pe­cially ones with piles of cash—is as var­ied and wide-rang­ing as ever.

You only have to browse our open­ing se­lec­tion of su­per­hy­per­silly cars, some of them with badges fa­mil­iar to mo­tor­sports fans, such as Brab­ham, Fit­ti­paldi, and Dal­lara, to see that. You want 700 horses’ worth of mad­ness from a main­stream au­tomaker? Of course you do. Chevro­let (ZR1), Porsche (GT2 RS), and Fer­rari (488 Pista) are only happy to oblige, and Ford (Shelby GT500) will be soon enough.

The fun isn’t just re­stricted to the mega rich, though, as there are also some af­ford­able butt-kick­ers on the way. The Kore­ans are bring­ing it with the Ge­n­e­sis G70, in ei­ther 2.0-liter turbo-four and six-speed man­ual or 3.3-liter twin-turbo six vari­ants, and Hyundai’s Veloster N hatch should be more than warm to the touch. The Toy­ota Supra/BMW Z4 col­lab­o­ra­tion is a combo plat­ter we can­not wait to sam­ple. We’ve had some seat time in a pro­to­type Z4, and the news so far is good.

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s also a squadron of Tesla fight­ers (ev­ery­body has to have one) on the way, pre­par­ing to un­leash a fusil­lade of lithium-ion-pow­ered rock­ets at Musk’s Mod­els (S, 3, X, Y, and Road­ster), present and fu­ture. One of the first in for­ma­tion is a spit­fire of a Bri­tish EV called the I-Pace, which I re­cently put through its paces in Por­tu­gal.

The Jaguar I-Pace has a healthy 394 horse­power and 512 lb-ft of torque and a 90-kW-hr bat­tery pack, which me­ters power to elec­tric mo­tors front and rear, and it can rip silently to 60 mph in a scant 4.5 sec­onds.

Over a var­ied route that tra­versed some de­li­cious moun­tain bends, foot-down road­way blasts, a mildly chal­leng­ing off-road course, and a cou­ple of laps on a race­track, the I-Pace got af­ter it and per­formed well. It’s a brawny lad at just about 4,800 pounds, but some 1,400 pounds of that is bat­tery lin­ing the car’s floor, which helps lower its cen­ter of grav­ity—not a bad thing, es­pe­cially for a cross­over-type ma­chine. Jaguar says the I-Pace’s range is 240 miles to a charge, about what the Chevy Bolt EV nets and in line with what Tesla of­fers.

The I-Pace will soon be joined by an on­slaught of Ger­man EVs across mul­ti­ple seg­ments, sev­eral of which will be here by the end of 2019. Chief among them from an en­thu­si­ast per­spec­tive is the Porsche Tay­can (pro­nounced “tie-con,” in case you won­dered), the car for­merly known as the Mis­sion E. Audi has both a sedan and a cross­over com­ing in rapid suc­ces­sion, the Mercedes-EQ sub­brand will en­ter the fray, and Volk­swa­gen isn’t play­ing around. Nei­ther are Ford and Gen­eral Mo­tors on the do­mes­tic front. Seem­ingly ev­ery ma­jor au­tomaker ei­ther has an EV on the road al­ready or will soon.

As we’ve de­tailed to you, driv­ing an all-elec­tric ve­hi­cle is a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence in a num­ber of ways, from power de­liv­ery to sound to how you op­er­ate one daily, but it’s one that can be just as ex­hil­a­rat­ing. My time in the I-Pace only re­in­forced the no­tion. I was heart­ened by what Jaguar has cre­ated: an at­trac­tive, dy­nam­i­cally ca­pa­ble ve­hi­cle with nu­mer­ous use­ful tech op­tions and a range that keeps anx­i­ety low.

What’s also been re­in­forced as we put to­gether our an­nual guide is my be­lief that we still have a way to go be­fore trans­porta­tion be­comes the san­i­tized A-to-B dystopian night­mare we all fear is com­ing. EV and oth­er­wise, au­tomak­ers still care very deeply about de­liv­er­ing new ve­hi­cles that ex­ceed ex­pec­ta­tions, that the next car is al­ways bet­ter than the last, and that it de­liv­ers more range, more power, more tech­nol­ogy. I didn’t need to drive the I-Pace or read about what’s com­ing soon to show­rooms to have that epiphany, but it’s good to know that no mat­ter the propul­sion, for the time be­ing we’re go­ing to have a wealth of op­tions to feed the pas­sion we all have, and we should en­joy it along the way. AM

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