GRACE, SPACE, AND JAGUAR I-PACE

The Jaguar I-Pace seems to have taken the electric car market by storm, garnering awards everywhere. First was the European Car of the Year award in March 2019, followed in April by the 2019 World Car of the Year as well as the Best Design and the Best Green Car awards.

Grace, Space and Pace was the iconic Jaguar advertising slogan of the 1950s and 60s. Almost seventy years on, cars have changed enormously, so is the famous old slogan still equally valid today?

One of the most significant changes to car design in the intervening years has been the march towards electrification, with Jaguar in the forefront with their highly acclaimed award-winning I-Pace.

So does the I-Pace have Grace, Space and Pace: we borrowed one to find out……….

Grace….

Whether it involves art, nature or the human form, beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. This is equally true when it comes to car styling: the same car can be equally admired or hated dependent on to whom you speak. So if you prefer not to hear my views on the I-Pace’s appearance, look away now, as the TV news presenters always say before they announce the football results.

It’s the clean, uncluttered styling beloved of Volkswagen and other Teutonic marques that I much prefer to the forced curves, slashes and pointless protrusions which are usually the trademark of the Japanese models (step forward, Honda Civic…..). So how does the I-Pace stack up on my style radar? In truth, I had previously been a bit underwhelmed, however, a sharp intake of breath accompanied the arrival of the loan car as I realised just how good looking it is – as long as it is in the right colour. It does seem that colour can massively change the perception of a car’s appearance: many I-Paces seem to wear red or white paint, and these never seem to look too great. The loan car, however, was finished in a more subdued metallic Corris Grey. This suited the lines of the car perfectly, particularly matched with the £260 ‘Black Pack’ external trim option and its 20″ gloss black wheels (£800).

The I-Pace is endowed with a prominent side styling line which sweeps up from the headlamps, over the front wheel arches, swoops down under the side windows and then rises again in a gentle curve to meet the sloping roofline at the tail of the car. Other makers have tried this styling feature and failed miserably, but on the I-Pace it looks impressive indeed.

The smooth styling of the I-Pace shows to advantage in this view

That sloping coupe-style roofline looks good, but combined with the relatively high rear end does reduce rear vision through the interior mirror quite significantly to a shallow semi-circle. Fortunately, the door-mounted mirrors compensate by providing an excellent field of view.

The appearance of the car also benefits from a relatively short bonnet and equally short rear overhang, resulting in an extremely long wheelbase of almost 3 metres pushing the wheels out to the corners, Mini-style. This makes for distinctive styling, but does have a downside in that it also increases the turning circle, which at nearly 12 metres, makes the I-Pace a touch cumbersome to manoeuvre in a tight car park, particularly being almost 2.2 metres wide. The optional 360-degree camera, a £500 option, is less helpful than might be expected, as it has quite a small field of vision around the car compared to some other manufacturers, and also is a fairly small display.

Electric cars have no need for a large radiator, so need no radiator grille. Most electric cars have made a feature of not having the feature, so to speak. It’s a surprise, therefore, to see the I-Pace having a full-sized front grille, of a style which clearly marks it out as one of the current Jaguar family but strangely appears to have little practical purpose. Another unusual styling feature is the prominent aperture in the bonnet, which in the absence of a radiator is presumably there to improve aerodynamics.

Most electric cars don’t have a radiator grille – the I-Pace does!
It also has this unusual vent in the bonnet.

The clean styling continues inside the cabin, with unusual features such as the centre media screen appearing to be part of the piano black dashboard trim, at least until it comes to life when the I-Pace is powered up. The centre part of the piano black facia includes a number of touch-sensitive switches, which are all too easy to contact and hence operate inadvertently.

The centre display switched off, looking for all the world like piano-black trim….
…….and switched on.

So, yes, for me, ‘Grace’ scores well, but with the nagging concern that style has perhaps taken precedence over practicality.

Space

A huge benefit of the “wheel at each corner’ shape, as perfectly demonstrated by Alec Issigonis’s original Mini 60 years ago, is that interior space is maximised. The I-Pace, in fact, feels bigger inside than its relatively modest length of just under 4.7 metres, similar to, say, a Volvo XC60, would suggest.

The sense of spaciousness was emphasised on the test car by its ‘light Oyster’ interior as well as the panoramic glass roof, a £960 option. There is space aplenty for the passengers, rear legroom being particularly impressive. That coupe-style sloping roofline results in odd-shaped rear doors which look as if they should hinder rear-seat entry and exit; however, in practice, this was not a problem.

Rear-seat entry is easy, despite the sloping roofline.

Oddments space in the cabin is well catered for, with a cavernous centre stowage box covered by a hinged lid, the front section of which incorporates a removable box, presumably for rubbish. This box, via a removable lid, doubles up as a pair of drinks holders.

The huge centre stowage box, with its removable drinks holder.

Underneath the gear selector is a small but useful tray, handy for storing mobile phones and the like.

Boot space is equally impressive, with a claimed 656-litre capacity. It has a flat floor, unencumbered by a lip up to the rear bumper, making it easy for the family dog to hop aboard or for loading heavy objects. There is a small hidden cubby under the floor, but this is pretty much fully occupied by the two charging cables with which the I-Pace is supplied. These are the usual Type 2 cable for the relatively slow 7kW public charging points, the other being a cable and box to connect to a normal 13 amp domestic socket. Be prepared for a time-consuming process if you use this, however: they can be inordinately slow. We found that one hour of charging on a 3-pin socket typically added only around 5 miles of extra range! As we have said several times before, having a 7kW wall box installed is the only practical way of charging an electric car at home.

the underfloor compartment – just big enough for the charging cables.

There is, however, a second boot located under the bonnet. This front boot, or “frunk’ in Tesla-speak, is not huge, unlike the Tesla Model S, but is nevertheless big enough to keep a handbag or camera away from prying eyes.

….and the front boot: useful but not massive.

So, overall, Space, the second part of the classic Jaguar strap-line definitely gets a thumbs-up.

Pace……

But what about Pace, the last part of the classic slogan, and the one, above all, for which Jaguars of the past have been renowned.

Well, electric cars – almost any electric cars – are quick off the line, thanks to all the torque being available from a standing start. As we’ve said before, this can sometimes overcome the grip of the tyres, particularly on front-wheel-drive models, leading to lots of wheelspin. Fortunately, the 400-horsepower I-Pace is all-wheel-drive, and it certainly benefits from that, as the maximum torque is an almost unbelievable 696Nm, enough to propel the 2.2-ton machine to 60mph in a supercar-rivalling 4.5 seconds. What is hugely impressive, and a testament to Jaguars ride and handling engineers, is that this level of acceleration is delivered in such a smooth and undramatic manner.

Making full use of that performance will, like any car, eat into the available range. However, the huge 90kWh battery of the I-Pace does mean that visits to recharging points should be relatively infrequent.

That said, much depends on how the I-Pace is driven. Use all that acceleration regularly and aggressively, and we bet the range could drop below 100 miles. Driven more rationally (and legally!), the practical range for most of us will probably be slightly shy of the published 292-mile WLTP figure. On our travels of almost 300 miles, we achieved a range of around 255 miles over mainly relatively slow cross-country A-roads rather than motorway driving. High-speed driving will reduce the range dramatically, and a range prediction in these circumstances would be around 200 miles. Indeed, the useful range calculator on Jaguars I-Pace website indicates that motorway range could even be less than 160 miles in winter conditions. Any potential buyer of an I-Pace would be well advised to head over to Jaguars range calculation web page, which effectively demonstrates the effect of the various parameters. Factors such as speed, weather and even wheel size can affect the range significantly: for example choosing the optional 22″ rims over the standard 18″ fitment can take an astonishing 10% off the range of the car.

On a conventional petrol or diesel car, every time the brakes are applied, fuel which has been used to get the car to its present speed is wasted. The I-Pace, like every electric (or hybrid) car, relies on brake energy recovery to improve its range. With the highest level of recovery set, the I-Pace can be driven most of the time using only the accelerator pedal, the car slowing almost to a standstill without using the brakes. This can take some getting used to, but it is worth getting the hang of it, for the savings can be dramatic. Over our time with the I-Pace, we used an estimated 100kWh of electricity. According to the dashboard display, we would have used 33kWh more if we had not kept brake recovery set to its maximum level most of the time. Which brings us on to another slightly strange aspect of the I-Pace: there are only two settings of brake recovery available, rather than the three or four with which most electric cars are endowed. Also, it’s relatively easy to switch between levels of recovery on most cars, using steering wheel paddles or similar, to suit differing traffic conditions. On the I-Pace, the recovery settings can only be accessed through the dashboard menu system, which effectively precludes changing them while in motion.

The I-Pace has a beautifully crisp and detailed sat-nav screen.

Unusual ways to operate controls seems to be a bit of a theme of the I-Pace. Indeed, it seems almost as if the designers challenged themselves to come up with unorthodox control systems and commands. To take but one example, since the very first sat-nav systems, points of interest have been known, and selectable, as just that – POIs. Don’t expect to find a menu for POI’s on the I-Pace, though: Jaguar calls them ‘Places’. To add insult to injury, the sub-lists of available places seemed limited indeed: attempts at finding an intended destination were frequently returned by a ‘not found” message. In compensation, the map display of the centre nav screen is beautifully crisp and detailed, and its visual and audio instructions very clear once programmed. Programming the sat-nav, however, defeated the usual hopeful button-prodding, and demanded a study of the handbook. The lack of physical switches and controls means that most functions are accessible only via menus on one or other of the screens. Some of these are not particularly intuitive, meaning that consultations with the handbook were unusually frequent. Gaining full control of the heating system in fact proved beyond us in the week we had the I-Pace: we never did find out how to adjust the fan speed! To be fair, living with the I-Pace for longer would doubtless mean that finding your way around the controls would become second nature, but I-Pace buyers be advised that study of the handbook will be a necessity!

Once the controls are finally sussed out, the I-Pace is a great drive, riding and handling very nicely, wafting along in near-silence, aided by the long wheelbase and low centre of gravity thanks to the underfloor battery pack. Yet it is able to pick up its skirts and accelerate stunningly when the need – and opportunity – arise. A few niggles detract from this otherwise well-rounded package of performance, such as a blind-spot warning system which is inclined to near-sightedness, and the £750 LED matrix headlamps which in automatic mode can be a little slow-witted, forcing the driver to select main beam manually to maximise vision. The matrix beam spread was also a bit patchy, with the beam spread resembling a series of spotlight beams rather than one continuous light sweep. Also, the hill-holding system occasionally let the car roll backwards slightly rather than engaging quickly, which could, and did, catch out the unwary.

For anyone either travelling into London’s Congestion Zone frequently or leasing the car for business use, the fiscal benefits of going electric can be very substantial, although the operating costs may not be significantly less than for a conventional car, particularly if you have to rely on public charging stations. Ecotricity, for example, has recently increased their price to 39p per kWh, which equates to roughly 20p per mile at motorway speed, near enough the same as the equivalent petrol cost! Home charging costs should, of course, be much less. We averaged 2.83 miles per kWh, which on a home charge would be around 5p per mile, compared to say 20p per mile for petrol power.

At upwards of £64,495 exclusive of the £3,500 Government grant (which, we hear, could disappear soon), the I-Pace has the similar-sized and specified Tesla Model S firmly in its sights. Indeed, it undercuts the Model S quite significantly on price. Dipping into the options list however soon pushes the price to Model S levels: our test cars on-the-road price was almost £78,000.

Overall, though, the I-Pace is a close, and welcome British competitor to the now well-established Tesla Model S, and one which will surely develop and improve over time.

Interested? Find out more here:- https://www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/i-pace/index.html

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