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