Tested: 2020 Jaguar i-Pace EV400 AWD S

Move aside “auto Boomer”

The auto industry is currently being infiltrated by negative remarks from two sides. On one side, we have the non-auto lovers; those who passionately believe that all vehicles are the same. On the other side of the spectrum, we have hardcore vehicle lovers, but who believes that the future of the industry seems bleak and without exciting prospects.

Let us, for all intents and purposes, coin them as the “auto Boomers”. I believe that these two polarisation groups will meet in the near future to form one homogenic mass.

Note: The first distinguished group specifically, worry more about the size of their infotainment system, the blackness of their wheels as well as the “cuteness” factor of the headlights, rather than the Global NCAP rating of the model itself. Do keep an eye on these drivers on the road and keep your distance. Something 2020 has taught us well.  

Throughout the recent past, we at NamWheels have read considerable amounts of negative articles and remarks, regarding the “end of the auto industry as we know it” and the electrification of the market.

We therefore wish to not follow the same path, but rather be “woke” and with current times. Change is imminent. Sometimes it will take time to reach that ideal sweet spot.

There might just be an amazingly simple reason for the pessimistic perception of EV’s in some part of the world. Knowing that this is new technology in its infancy, like the television in the 50’s or the cell phone in the 80’s, there is still much to be learnt. Nay Sayers will be quick to announce that EV’s will not save the planet or will rob the world of pure autonomous joy as we know it.  

Although the first point is up for contestation as EV’s merely join the industry as an alternative in a bid to alleviate the pressure of oil burning and CO2 emissions, thus contributing to the help to save our planet; stating that EV’s will mean the death of autonomous joy is completely unfound.  

This we recently experienced with the South African car of the year, the Jaguar I-Pace.

Perceptions in the first- and third world vary considerably, with the reason being that first world cities have much more charging infrastructures around every corner. While the I-Pace (currently) suffices well as a city car, taking it from Cape Town to Johannesburg will require meticulous planning as fast charging stations are spread between 150-200km from one another on the open roads. Luckily, Jaguar is working with GridCars, an application established to notify EV users (and the general public) of the whereabouts of charging stations and its capacities.  While this is currently the case, not only will improved technologies expand battery ranges, but also diminish range anxiety by installing many more fast-charging stations along busy routes.

In fact, Jaguar, along with many other manufacturers are currently aiming at expanding its EV model ranges by as early as 2024. With this, the manufacturers are also spending millions to ensure proper infrastructures for its customers. You can even install a fast-charging unit at your home (for your I-pace), which will result in it being fully charged in 12 hours.

This is thanks to a 7.4 kWh unit. Charging the car from just a normal power plug at home, will take around 26 hours. During our test, we took our test unit to the N1 city Jaguar plant for a charge. Arriving with just under 100km of range (around a quarter of the range), it took a slender 70 minutes to charge the car to a three-quarter tank capacity. Whilst Jaguar also claims a total range on a fully charged battery at 470km, we only got to about 320km. Still, this is quite a good range and with careful planning, it should be possible to take the I-Pace all over the country.

Thanks to regenerative braking, the actual brake pedal only needs to be used in case of emergencies or to bring the car to a slower speed, suddenly. Maintenance costs (and this has been proven by current EV owners around the world) are much lower than with a normal internally combustive vehicle.

What strikes me about the I-Pace is that it looks like other current Jaguar models, therefore not standing out just because it is an EV. It is appealing to both young and old. Secondly, with a low centre of gravity (thanks to the weight of the batteries between the two-wheel arches), this 2.2-ton car does not feel at all like a bulgy SUV. With electronic steering, it is easy to drive and quick to enter corners without a hint of tyres, struggling to find grip.

Thanks to a high ride hight, the I-Pace can also tackle muddier, gravel terrains, even better than many other top-spec SUV’s. With a boot capacity between 656 – 1453 litres and a massive 890mm of rear leg room space, there is also no shortage of space. Even current big SUV’s struggle to match these numbers.

Yet, what grapples my mind, is the absolute polarisation of this cars’ personality. On the one side, it can be one of the most calming environments, helping passengers to easily catch up on lost sleep. Yet, at the same time, an immediate torque delivery will send you into a world of space travel hyper speed blurriness. This counts for any speed, with accelerations at 120km/h giving the same “butterfly” effect as a launch from standstill; rendering any argument about “the loss of fun with EV’s” as completely unfound.

Throughout the week of testing this car, our NamWheels writers could predict every facial expression of our passengers. Betting money on this, would have made us, well, quite rich. The sudden acceleration of the I-Pace will send you into about 3-5 seconds of quiet shock, with a cheeky “teenagerly” smirk making its appearance shortly thereafter. No engine noise, no tyre squeal, just immediate thrust.

There is a good reason then why the Jaguar I-Pace was voted as the South-African car of the year. With good gravel road capabilities, a storage volume of up to 1453 litres, an amazingly comfortable and relaxing driving environment, as well as a manageable battery range, the I-Pace makes perfect sense for any urban dweller, looking to take to the open roads over the weekend.

Let’s not forget that the I-Pace can be the calmest car on the road, yet, can send you into a headachy fast acceleration, thanks to its instant power delivery of 696Nm and 294kW.

Once the initial shock of paying R1.6 million wears out, customers will soon realise that overall running costs in the long term will result in it equating to a current R1.1 or R1.2 million internal combustion engine SUV / sedan.

Sure, this is only the start of the EV revolution and similar to the creation of the tv, mid-20th century or the cell phone in the 80’s, there will be many more learning curves and criticism, but with constant development, improvements and manufacturer investments, this will only get better.

With the I-Pace, we are only at the start of the journey, but we are already massively looking forward to this journey!  

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