In today’s environmentally conscious world, we seek clean, renewable energy, for the sake of our children’s future. We have free renewable energy sources like solar, geothermal and wind that are available and cause minimal, if any, environmental impact once these powerplants are online and operational. As the world slowly pulls itself out of poverty, demand for power will increase further. As fossil fuels for cars have a limit, the automotive industry is now looking to electric vehicle or EV propulsion for its future.
And the race has started to electrify cars.
The Europeans in particular are in a mad rush. Audi has the E-Tron Quattro, BMW has the i3 and i8, Porsche has the Taycan to name a few full EV cars. Now we have Jaguar’s I-Pace, perhaps the first full EV to be offered in the Philippine market, ahead of Nissan’s Leaf and Hyundai’s Ioniq and Kona.
The I-Pace was designed by Jaguar-Land Rover Group’s design chief, Sir Ian Callum, based on a modified platform (codenamed D7e) for the group’s future EV model range. It’s made under contract by Magna-Steyr for Jaguar in Graz, Austria, running a dual electric motor 4WD system. The electric motors produce a combined 400ps and 696 Newton-Meters of torque, supplied by a 90 kilowatt lithium ion battery. The range is promising and believable: Jaguar promises a 414-kilometer range. The actual range will vary depending on traffic but consider this: I covered a total of 183 kilometers over three days, and I still had 204 kilometers range with half a charge on the instrument cluster. I drove through heavy traffic the first day for about 20 kilometers and that surprisingly consumed a lot more energy from the batteries. On the highway, especially with the regenerative braking charging set to high, my 80-kilometer one-way drive consumed less than an eighth of energy on the battery charge level indicator while cruising between 80-100km/h. The I-Pace can accelerate to 100km/h from rest in 4.8 seconds, thanks to the monumental torque available at zero RPM, all the way to an electronically limited 200km/h top speed.
Looks-wise, the I-Pace is handsome and futuristic. Gone are the awkward and odd looking shapes and overall silhouette we have come to expect from concept cars. Sir Ian Callum did an awesome job drawing up a handsome, well-chiseled exterior with design cues linking it to existing vehicles in the Jaguar model range, but the unique sloping 2-box design cements its unique status as the first EV from the Jaguar stable. Drag is a very low 0.29cd, making it a slippery cat on the highway in the suspension’s lowest optimal handling setting. Inside, impeccable British taste are evident as ivory white perforated leather covers most of the interior, contrasting with soft black materials and a sprinkling of aluminum finish accents. The 3-spoke steering wheel wouldn’t look out of place in a sports saloon, and adjusts for both reach and rake. The instrument cluster is a full digital LCD affair, and there’s a 10-inch LCD touchscreen display for the multimedia infotainment system.
There’s very good space inside, making long trips for five adults comfortable. Oddly enough, our local units get a massive spare tire in the trunk which diminishes cargo capacity significantly. Jaguar lists trunk capacity at 650 liters, and you also get a frunk (front trunk) with a measly 28 liters of capacity. The Meridian surround sound system plays my Spotify tunes beautifully even as you crank up the volume. And you’ll really want to crank up that volume because it seems that you can hear everything else around you when stuck in traffic: people talking, motorcycles whizzing by, the engine note of other cars. Perhaps a typical car’s internal combustion noise tends to cancel out these other noises on the road.
On the highway, the I-Pace delivers a very refined, composed and stable driving experience. It feels a bit heavy, but not 2,133kg heavy. Gone are the noises from the outside, the I-Pace exhibiting excellent NVH with minimal tire, wind and road noise permeating inside the cabin. The electro-hydraulic suspension is firm, firmer than what I’m used to in a Jaguar, but still compliant enough for roads that are often scarred with potholes and bumps. The suspension adjusts electronically, giving you roughly six inches of adjustment from its lowest comfort access ride height to its tallest off-road mode, which gives a claimed 500mm of water fording depth feature. In-city driving is also a breeze: the multiple bird’s-eye-view cameras make maneuvering the Jaguar convenient in tight spaces, and the aforementioned torque means you’ll can always handle the spirnt to the stop-light, perfect for cut and thrust driving in traffic. Nobody would ever notice your Jag is actually an EV.
Dynamically, the I-Pace can really move: the dual electric motors give instant response and allow you to overtake slower moving cars with complete confidence. It can also split torque efficiently between the front and rear axles, a form of torque-vectoring to improve turn-in sharpness and cornering speeds, which is astonishing for a car of this size and heft.
The only real downside I see to owning the Jaguar I-Pace (and other cars like it) in a Third World country like ours, is the charging. You can drive the I-Pace until the battery runs out, but what will you do when it leaves you in the middle of nowhere? Buying the I-Pace means you get a special wall socket affixed to your home where you plug-in the Jag. It takes 10 hours to get the I-Pace to at least 80% battery charge level at 7 kilowatts per hour. You can’t just plug it onto any regular wall outlet.
The future remains exciting, and while EVs might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is promising even for enthusiasts like me because the driving dynamics are still spot-on. Improvements in range, weight, power and charging as well as battery life longevity should get better in time. And hopefully by then, the technology becomes cheap enough for the everyday-man to afford. So let me ask you, will you cling to your fossilized past, or embrace the electric future?
A car enthusiast through and through, Botchi Santos believes that different people have different needs. He tries to find the best car for a specific audience, and spruces things up by delving into car culture, helping make the local car community vibrant and enjoyable for all. His passion for motoring is built around a belief that cars are among the top three life purchases.