Cyprus Mail
Motoring

Electric I-PACE outpaces the rest

The production car remains true to the concept that was first revealed at the 2016 Los Angeles motor show, and it was designed with certain things in mind, rather than just adding batteries and charging facilities to a conventionally powered F-Pace

The 2019 European Car of the Year, Jaguar’s first all-electric car, the I-PACE, was launched in Cyprus last week by local agents Char. Pilakoutas.

Speaking at the launch, Klelia Pilakouta Christoforou said: “The I-PACE opens a new exciting chapter for Jaguar. It’s a powerful coupe SUV with a unique aesthetic and design that sets it apart from any other car in the class.”

The production car remains true to the concept that was first revealed at the 2016 Los Angeles motor show, and it was designed with certain things in mind, rather than just adding batteries and charging facilities to a conventionally powered F-Pace.

Ian Callum, Director of Design, explains: “The challenge was to design and build an electric vehicle that’s distinctively and unmistakably a Jaguar – a vehicle that will demonstrate that an electric vehicle can be a driver’s car and excite the senses.”

After testing it, I’d say they met the challenge.
The first thing you notice on entering the car is that there’s no gearstick: the space where one would normally be is a simple console with buttons on the driver’s side for selecting Drive, Reverse or Park, and on the passenger’s side for choosing Eco, Comfort or Dynamic mode. The infotainment and climate control dials are also housed here.

Press the brake (there’s no clutch) and then the start button on the dash and the car starts up (you can tell because the displays light up – you can’t hear it).

It’s quite a big car, so I took it gently until I got used to it and headed through town to my preferred ‘test sites’ where it’s safe to do all the manoeuvres without the danger of oncoming traffic.

I-PACE’s linear acceleration is instantaneous – with no lag and no gearshift interruptions. Its 400PS of peak power takes you from 0-100km/h in only 4.8 seconds – and you realise this pretty quickly when you pull away from the first set of traffic lights: within a matter of 20 metres or so, the speedometer is reading 60km/h! Fortunately, the speed is beamed to the head-up display on the windscreen, so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to see how fast you are travelling. Maximum speed is 200km/h, and if you floor the accelerator on the highway you get pretty close to that in the blink of an eye.

For ‘sports car agility’, the 90kWh battery is positioned within the floor, between the axles, giving a low centre of gravity and near perfect weight distribution, which translates into great handling. I couldn’t get the car to misbehave however hard I flung it at corners: it took everything in its stride – even when I switched off the stability control because it felt a bit rough when it intervened.

The rear windscreen is very small, but you can compensate with the wing mirrors.

Electric power is naturally quiet, but Jaguar has gone to great lengths to make I-PACE ‘an oasis of calm’. Sophisticated motor encapsulation dampens sound, and the design has been engineered to minimise wind noise.

Exterior noise is further reduced by acoustic lamination on the front windows. One of the niggles with electric vehicles is battery life and the cost of replacement: I-PACE’s battery is covered by an eight-year warranty in addition to the standard Jaguar warranty – as long as you don’t exceed 100,000 miles during that time.

The use of axle-mounted electric motors and concentric single speed transmissions creates considerable room within the cabin, giving the car a compact footprint from the outside – but space within.

“Clean, convenient, hassle-free” is how the manufacturer describes the future of car ownership.

Visits to the fuel station will be a thing of the past: I-PACE’s battery can be charged from a conventional socket, a wall box or at a public charging station. A single full charge provides a range of 470km on the WLTP cycle – more than enough to cover the average weekly commute of 300km.

At the heart of I-PACE is a ‘floating’ centre console containing Jaguar’s latest Touch Pro Duo infotainment system which comprises a 10-inch touchscreen integrated into the dashboard and a lower 5-inch touchscreen with multi-function dynamic dials. In front of the driver is a high-definition Interactive Driver Display.

The first thing you notice on entering the car is that there’s no gearstick: the space where one would normally be is a simple console with buttons on the driver’s side for selecting Drive, Reverse or Park, and on the passenger’s side for choosing Eco, Comfort or Dynamic mode

There’s plenty of interior space and storage: the absence of a transmission tunnel allows for a 10.5-litre cubby bin beneath the centre armrest, while the lack of a conventional gearbox means there is storage within the ‘floating’ centre console which is perfect for phones and keys. Completing I-PACE’s carrying capacity, the boot is a useful 656 litres, with an extra under bonnet front stowage compartment providing an additional 27 litres.

Under the skin, I-PACE is radically different from an internal combustion-engined car. Instead of a petrol or diesel engine, it features two extremely lightweight and compact Synchronous Permanent Magnet Electric Motors. Independently each motor can deliver 200PS and torque of 348Nm – a total output of 400PS and 696Nm – with maximum torque available from zero rpm, as well as high performance All Wheel Drive (AWD).

Both motors are up to 97 per cent efficient when transferring power from the battery to the motor (an internal combustion engine is typically only 30-40 per cent efficient when producing power from fossil fuels). They were developed by Jaguar engineers to take advantage of the knowledge collected from the I-TYPE Formula E racing car. To deliver maximum power in the smallest possible footprint, the two motors are axle-mounted and use concentric single speed transmissions. They are also positioned lower in the vehicle, contributing to the low centre of gravity, which enhances control, handling and agility.

The electric motors are quieter and create fewer vibrations than conventional internal combustion engines – with none of the interruptions normally associated with gear changes.

Positioned as low down as possible and right between the axles, I-PACE’s 90kWh battery is constructed of high energy density lithium-ion pouch cells. It’s designed for longevity and supports protracted periods of sustained maximum power. What’s more, the ideal temperature for the battery is constantly maintained using state-of-the-art thermal management systems.

Most drivers will use Comfort mode, but engaging Dynamic Mode amplifies the car’s sporting character: throttle response is sharpened, the dampers are stiffened and steering weighting is increased.

With the lack of a comprehensive EV charging infrastructure in Cyprus, owners may be concerned about where they can ‘top up’ without going out of their way, so it’s just as well that the battery can be charged at home. For optimum charging, however, you can install an approved Jaguar wall box.

I-PACE is equipped with a 7kW single phase AC on board charger, which can fully recharge the vehicle overnight and deliver up to 35km of range per hour. To ensure that you are always able to charge, the vehicle also comes with a Home Charging Cable that is used with a domestic socket. When using a domestic socket, charging rates are slower than a wall box (up to 11km of range per hour), but sufficient to cover the average daily commute if the vehicle is charged overnight.

Safety features include Emergency Braking – which can help prevent collisions with other vehicles, as well as cyclists or pedestrians. If a potential frontal collision is detected by the camera at the front of the car, a warning is displayed giving the driver time to take action. If a collision is still anticipated and you have taken no action, this system will apply the brakes to help reduce the severity of the possible impact.

Cruise Control allows the driver to maintain the current speed of the vehicle without the need for continued use of the accelerator pedal, helping to reduce driver fatigue, while Speed Limiter allows the driver to pre-set a maximum specified speed which the vehicle will not exceed. Both functions can be easily turned on or off by the driver. Driver Condition Monitor detects if you’re starting to feel drowsy by monitoring steering inputs, brake and throttle pedal activity to give you an early warning when you need to take a break.

Lane Keep Assist detects when the vehicle is drifting out of lane and applies a vibration to the steering wheel, encouraging the driver to guide the vehicle back (I found this annoying as it seemed to do it when I pulled out gradually to overtake, so I turned it off).

Traffic Sign Recognition keeps the driver informed and aware on the road by displaying speed limits and no overtaking signs in the instrument cluster, where they can easily be seen. A rear camera provides improved visibility when reversing, and static lines representing the vehicle’s outer perimeter and predicted path are superimposed on the rearward image displayed on the touchscreen.

All in all, you’d never think you were driving an all-electric car: its performance compares with top-of-the-range sports cars.
It also carries a top-of-the-range price tag: €75,000 to €85,000 depending on trim specs.

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