It's a Guy Thing

Purr Becomes Whirr

Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE

What a time it’s been for technologic revolutions, some of which is the juicy outwash from the Consumer Electronics Show, teasing the world with gigabytes of industry gamechangers. For me, the highlight is the first foldable smartphone from Samsung with a versatile screen size that can knit multiple apps together seamlessly. For the time being the foldable smartphone concept is unrefined, compromised and far too bulky to replace the slim-bezel, front-facing designs carried with us every minute of the day.

Does that sound like a familiar technological crossroads? The same early foibles were faced by the nascent electric car. Foldable smartphones will mature beyond these niggles to become the next chapter in communication and entertainment – this is where all the development is headed. Downstream to that, the electric car will have an equally transformative effect on our lives, and the two will augment our lives in unprecedented ways.

With Jaguar’s I-Pace it’s no longer about when, it’s about how. Even plug-in hybrids are now viewed as the unraveling proxy en route to full electrification. That leaves the motoring landscape divided into two camps – JLR’s research states that those who turn to electric mobility never return to fossil fuels.

As a car fan, the I-Pace is already part of your daily dialogue. Ahead of Tesla Model 3, the I-Pace was voted the European Car of the Year (2019). Be conscious of the intentional tag ‘car’, not just EV. Only the Nissan Leaf has achieved the same feat.

The Jaguar I-Pace will test the temperature of the EV community, but even if it’s icy cold, the other brands are leaping in… and taking their customers with them.

Can Jaguar expect the same participation? The tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking, classic car restoring XJ or XF owners will fill up at the pumps until fine arid dust is wheezed from each nozzle but Jaguar Land Rover is a company that’s been stealthily rejuvenating its image over the last five years – back to rekindling the innovative, highly desirable brand that made Britain the worldwide authority of car manufacturing after the war put the Germans on the backfoot. Over the last few years, Jaguar has struggled to find that next gear, and ironically they’ve done so with a car that has none. By 2020, every Jaguar will hatch an electrified version – in either plug-in or full EV – in every one of their model ranges and unlike BMW or Mercedes, they’re not doing it under a sub-brand. This gives JLR the versatility to mix and match bodystyles and drivetrains to offer customers the right car at the right time without all the idiosyncrasies of a sub-brand.

This explains the I-Pace’s carefully tempered design narrative instead of alienating itself as an EV from the outset – an approach adopted by the Nissan Leaf with divisive results that are no less freakish today than they were seven years ago. The I-Pace follows the same nondescript template as the Audi, minus (thankfully) the digital wing mirrors, where the only clue to its peculiar source of power is the small EV badge on the boot.

But it does manifest a little bit of intent in other ways with the roofline, low ground clearance, sizeable wheels – for an EV – and lopsided ratio of metal to glass. But have they pushed the envelope enough? Electric cars give designers a completely new sheet of paper so why not doodle something fresh that belongs on Jaguar’s Pinterest homepage: suck in the overhangs or restructure the crash protection or give us Falcon doors to tweet about.

Since the I-Pace’s body size is a reaction to the acreage of the batteries, you can expect a cabin that’s larger than the F-Pace’s. Far, far sexier too. Previously on the backfoot versus BMW, Mercedes and Audi, it was always going to be a daunting step for Jaguar to conjure up an interior that resonates the same posh alchemy as that of similarly priced Range Rover – and this one certainly flatters the Jaguar side of business. The floating double-stacked screens divide content so efficiently that the thought of returning to any premium brand beholden to a singular screen would now be too grim to bear.

As for speed, the I-Pace doesn’t have the 120mph+ gait to take mouthfuls out the autobahn. That’s ok, it zips and tschoows an overtake like a flying saucer with the afterburners on despite weighing as much as a small planet. On the launch we began our route with a 200 mile range, completed a round trip of 120 at a speed that would make Elon’s Boring Tunnel seem like it was suffering temporary closures, then popped it on charge for the same length of time it would take to eat a pie and chips from a filling station.

And while it’s not quite as affordable as your reheated pastry snack, charging up is around a third of the price of filling a diesel-powered JLR product to the same range.

At the price, you’d pay for this car you’re shopping in a very special corner of any showroom where SUVs like the GLC 63 AMG, BMW X4 M, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, and Porsche Macan Performance Pack are parked. They’ll light up all five senses with similar sprint times but with fatter speedometers and muscular bodies. The tech-savvy early adopters will rush ahead for the foldable smartphone, as they may do for the I-Pace but here we’ll bide our time with twin-turbo SUVs – even if that means visiting Jaguar Land Rover with a different hat on. JP