Devon & Plymouth Chamber CEO Stuart Elford test drives the Jaguar I-PACE
The name Jaguar has always been very evocative to me.
I remember my dad’s pride at owning his first XJ and the smell of the leather and it had two petrol tanks (two!) and two filler caps – it was that thirsty.
So it was with genuine intrigue that I approached Jaguar’s new I-PACE, which promises to be a very different beast. I have driven plug-in hybrids before but never a pure electric, so this was going to be quite an experience.
Having not seen one up close I was itching to get my hands on it but had a tantalising wait as the team at Roger Young Jaguar Land Rover in Saltash gave the vehicle a thorough clean and disinfection before handing it over.
My first thought was that this is a very beautiful car, not something you can say about a lot of SUVs; it is sleek and purposeful with real presence.
The remote unlocking brings the flush handles out from the large door which allow easy entry. Slipping onto the sumptuous leather seats the cabin immediately feels cosy and comfortable without being cramped.
The handover was quick as the controls are very intuitive and the central control screen is the same as the one in the Defender I test drove, so it was simple to connect my phone, set the Sat Nav, adjust the climate control (that has pre-conditioning functionality) and set off.
My immediate reaction was how utterly silent and smooth it was. I wasn’t at all distracted by the display, which you can customise to show any combination of information you want, or the fact that this was all electric.
I was soon turning onto the A38 and thought I would test the acceleration. Wow. Just wow. 0-60mph comes up in just 4.5 seconds.
It brought a huge grin to my face and I had to do it a few times before I stopped saying wow out loud. This cool cat is quiet and quick as well as clean and mean.
While the acceleration reminds me of the moment in the Star Trek movies when they select warp drive and Captain Kirk says, “punch it” before everything outside seems to go all blurry, in fact you feel you have total control in a way that is hard to explain.
The 90kWh battery is positioned within the floor, between the axles, giving a low centre of gravity and near perfect weight distribution. This combined with the permanent four-wheel drive, the precise steering, and the nimble and taught chassis makes you feel very ‘at one’ with the car.
I had to stop in the city centre and thought I would be nervous parking a car that costs more than my first house, but in fact the camera and parking technology is so advanced that you can see the car and perimeter from every side. A myriad of cameras stitches together the pictures to give you a real time view as if you were outside the I-PACE looking towards it from above or any angle you select; it really is quite magical.
Having parked outside my old office I had hoped to bump into someone I knew, but no such luck! Walking away I glanced back in admiration – this is one easy and very pleasing car to drive.
I didn’t stop long as I was keen to get back behind the wheel. Taking her on the open road I toyed with the various drive modes: dynamic; comfort; eco; and rain/ice/snow mode. The dynamic mode firms up the suspension, steering and throttle response to make the car ‘snappier’ or you can waft about in the gentler comfort mode.
Eco mode is self-explanatory as it increases range and the rain/snow/ice mode improves grip in slippery conditions.
Speaking of range, when I picked the car up it was charged to 85% and was showing more than 200 miles range. I was very pleasantly surprised at how little the battery ran down, despite my ‘enthusiastic’ test driving, which may have been assisted by the enhanced configurable regenerative braking.
The car has a published range of 292 miles and the Sat Nav can guide you swiftly to the increasing number of convenient charge points. I won’t go into the technicalities of charging an electric vehicle, but you can plug it in at home overnight for full range and even a quick one-hour charge at a 50kW charging station offers up to 168 miles.
I stopped at the office and picked up Paul from pbmedia who was doing the photography. Pulling away at the lights I gave him a demo of the acceleration. He laughed out loud and said: “Wow. That is incredible…so fast, but it feels totally controlled.”
I would like to think he was talking about my skilful driving, but in fact he too was struck with how completely safe and secure the I-PACE makes you feel.
Stopping on the moors for some photos I had time to look around and explore the quality interior. The rear seats are roomy and comfortable and the boot plenty big enough for a family going on holiday. Even my dog would fit in the back (and I think Charlie would like to be chauffeured around in it!).
The Meridian sound system is crisp and clear with a DAB system that has the usual smart phone connectivity and will pick up all the usual channels.
I was going to make a joke about how being a Jaguar, it only needs Radio 2 and Radio 4 as that is all the owners will listen to, but in fact this is a vehicle that will appeal to all ages. This is indeed a rare beast – a good-looking car that is practical, safe and comfortable for a family, yet performs like a sports car if required.
Owning one is easy too as the model I drove is available at 0% APR and there is a very attractive Business Contract Hire package too (see rogeryoung.co.uk for more details). As it is ‘clean and green’ there is no VED to pay and very favourable BIK rates, so you may be surprised how affordable this is.
But whether you want one because it is practical and good for the planet or because you want a luxurious performance car, you will not be disappointed. When I am ready to change my car, this will be at the top of my list.
Sadly, my test drive is over way too soon and I have to return this marvel of modern engineering to the lovely people at Roger Young. Thanks to them for lending me this beauty which brought a smile to my face and made driving fun again – I think my old dad would have approved.