Motoring

I-Pace : Jaguar's revolutionary electric car

The I-Pace is the most revolutionary car in Jaguar’s production history. It is the British carmaker’s first-ever fully electric model, and one that sets the course for the Jaguar of the future. What you see here is the final production-spec electric SUV. Deliveries begin soon — which means that by the time the first I-Paces start being driven about by customers, the Jaguar model will have no equal rival from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. There is the Tesla Model X electric SUV — but then it’s a whole lot larger than the I-Pace.

I-Pace : Jaguar's revolutionary electric car
 

The I-Pace has little in common with any Jaguar to date. It’s new from the ground-up and comes built on a new EV architecture, at the core of which is a skateboard chassis that positions the 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the cabin floor. Thanks to the heavy battery pack positioned low, the I-Pace boasts a centre of gravity far lower than any traditional, combustion engine SUV. Motive power on the I-Pace comes from two electric motors — one at the front axle and one at the rear axle — that produce the equivalent of 200hp and 348Nm of torque apiece, or a combined 400hp/696Nm. The motors are compact (the drive shafts pass through them) and light (they weigh 80kg each), and having one at each end has, in part, contributed to Jaguar achieving an ideal 50:50 front-rear weight balance on the I-Pace. The I-Pace is no lightweight, though — it weighs in at 2.2 tonnes (2,200kg).

I-Pace : Jaguar's revolutionary electric car
 

Aside from the familiar shape of its grille, headlights and tail-lights, the I-Pace looks nothing like Jaguar’s other models — and it all comes down to the proportions. While the I-Pace may be marketed as an SUV (and even meets certain regulations abroad to classify as one) it doesn’t particularly look the part. The bluff nose, low roof and smoothly raked tail are more indicative of a high-riding, high fashion hatchback than a tough, imposing SUV.

Clever details abound on the I-Pace. Vanes on the grille open when cooling is required, but close when not needed, to redirect air to the large bonnet scoop to smoothen airflow over the body. Air is also channelled through openings in the bumper to reduce turbulence in the wheel wells, while the wheels themselves are designed for minimal drag.

I-Pace : Jaguar's revolutionary electric car
 

It is a slight drop into the I-Pace’s cabin, and once in position on the sporty driver’s seat, you immediately get the feeling that this is not your ordinary Jaguar. The windscreen, for one, extends far forward, almost MPV-like. There is also a tremendous sense of space on the inside, and what undoubtedly helps further the impression on our test car is the optional glass roof, which is as large as they come.

The I-Pace’s dashboard is new-age Jaguar and features JLR’s latest Touch Pro Duo dual-touchscreen infotainment system. Commonly accessed functions such as navigation and audio are accessed via the top screen, while climate control and other functions are operated via the lower screen. It does take some time to get used to the arrangement, but thankfully, Jaguar has retained chunky knobs for temperature control settings. Digital instruments that let drivers switch between screens are standard, while top-trim cars get a head-up display, too.

At the back, there’s impressive legroom.

Boot space is a massive 656 litres with the rear seats in place; but with the rear motor residing under the boot floor, there’s no provision for any spare wheel, whatsoever. The I-Pace also gets what Jaguar designers have cheekily named the ‘froot’ — a 27-litre storage binnacle under the bonnet. There’s lots of storage in the cabin, too, with a recess under the arms of the lower portion of the centre console, as well as a sizeable 10.5-litre compartment between the front seats.

Press Start, wait for the ‘Ready’ icon to light up on the instruments, push D on the button-operated gear selector, and you are good to go. No vibration or sound of an engine coming to life, obviously. You do get used to the silent progress in town, but to make the transition from conventional car to EV that little bit easier, Jaguar has also added in a switchable creep mode that lets the car roll forward. There are also two levels for regenerative braking. Regenerative braking set to ‘High’ is akin to strong engine braking; and the braking force on releasing the throttle is so strong that you seldom need to use the brake pedal, even to come to a standstill. The system really makes driving a single-pedal affair.Around town, the I-Pace feels brisk, responsive and easy to live with, but also a bit un-emotive. It doesn’t quite talk to you like a 400hp Jaguar should. The build of speed is superb, but it’s also a bit one-dimensional — in the sense that motor responses are identical whether you accelerate from 30-80kph or 100-130kph.

Where the I-Pace undoubtedly impresses is in ride comfort. Ride quality is brilliant, and it’s amazing how little of the potholed surface in the countryside made it to the cabin. Air suspension is an option, and on the standard steel springs too, the I-Pace feels amazingly absorbent. Even on the worst of patches, there’s no road shock at the steering wheel and no shudder at the body. Body movements are also well-contained.

The I-Pace is quite adept off-road, too.

The thing is, you can’t. Jaguar is ready with the car, but will not bring it to India until the country’s charging infrastructure is up to speed. We are looking at a good few years before you can buy the I-Pace in India, then. For us, the I-Pace is more of a demonstration of the broad direction Jaguar is headed in. The future is electric and, if the I-Pace is anything to go by, Jaguar is clearly ready for it.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 10:13:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/taking-an-electric-turn/article24143834.ece

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