2020 Jaguar i-Pace S
Many years ago, a Ford PR man told me – approvingly – that I didn’t have any small talk. But ever since I joined the one per cent, I can fill all kinds of conversational vacuums. Not that one per cent, the single-digit (but rapidly growing) club of UK motorists who buy a new electric car. Getting the i-Pace was not just a test of a new car, but of a new lifestyle. And discourse.
Conversation topic #1 is ‘How far does it go?’ – range and charging anxiety are uppermost in the human psyche. The i-Pace is officially rated at between 258 and 292 miles, depending on spec. But fully charged, our luxuriously equipped car didn’t display a range north of 225 miles under my keeping. Its longest stint was 191 miles to deepest Cornwall using Eco mode: I never pushed my luck further.
Then you get ‘How hard is it to charge?’ and detailing the merits of 7kW chargers vs 50kW chargers vs 100kW+ ultrarapid chargers may not make for chat nirvana. The unvarnished truth is that too many chargers are inoperable for various reasons, so your well-laid plan needs a fallback position, and quaffing 50kW for an hour-plus only gives about 100 i-Pace miles. The UK needs more – and far faster – chargers. To support a 100 per cent electric new-car market, car industry body the SMMT calculates we’ll need to go from 19,000 to 2.8 million chargers by 2035. At a cost of £16.7 billion. Gulp.
But most EV early adopters will only need to juice up on that occasional long journey or staycation, and the odd hour or two of stopovers is tolerable. If you have off-road parking at home or chargers at work, running an EV should slip neatly into your life. My middle-class circle nods agreeably when I hector that every household’s second car should be electric. But they’ll need a wallbox: my 7kW BP Chargemaster unit install cost £449, thanks to a £500 government subsidy that’s now been reduced to £350.
The related question is typically ‘How much does it cost to run?’ On a cheap overnight tariff, an i-Pace charge totalled £8, so about £20 for 500 miles. A punchy twin-turbodiesel F-Pace, though still down 100bhp and a couple of seconds to 62mph on the electric Jag, would need around £78 to gas for 500 miles. And there is an undoubted feelgood factor from emitting zero pollutants on the go.
Of course you need to factor in EVs’ higher acquisition prices, especially when £17k of options makes for an Ј80,000 i-Pace. Although memory seats were handy because my wife is half my size, I never used the front-seat cooling and the rear heaters were buried under child seats – bank that £4k. I’d also forego the £900 head-up display, £400 auto-dimming door mirrors(really?) and the £1650 adaptive headlamps.
But I’m a sucker for a glass roof (£960), and this i-Pace looks sensational (even when dirty) in £700 Caesium Blue paint, with £260 black trim flourishes and pricey 22-inch alloys (£2900). The low-profile rubber doesn’t compromise the air of civility or composed ride on £1100 air springs.
I used the £500 camera pack to monitor my parking position, and utilised the stop and go cruise control, part of a £1350 pack with blind-spot monitoring and high-speed emergency braking.
In hindsight, nine grand of these options were superfluous; better to just buy an S model and spec decent wheels, because the standard i-Pace is a tremendous and suitably equipped car.
Not once did the banter turn to ‘How does it feel pushing on down the B660?` but I`d rhapsodise nonetheless. The dual-motor i-Pace launches like a cannonball, steers with a ballerina’s deftness, and grips like Loctite – thank those low-set buttery cells between the wheels. Everyone who took a turn – from EV sceptic Ben Miller to my wife – was smitten by the way it drives. Personally I’d like more aggressive regenerative deceleration to dovetail with my late-braking style, but the way the nose turns in once you lift is the gift that keeps on giving.
And the i-Pace does all it’s asked: a deep boot stows pram, scooters or luggage, the rear seats fold not-quite-flat but still handle recycling runs. With its instant performance, air of calm, vast cabin space and low running costs, it’s a great electric car. Actually, it’s just a brilliant car full stop.
So that leads to question #5: ‘Would you have another electric car?’ This lifestyle is not for the inflexible, disorganised or shy. But I’d definitely have another EV. Whether it’ll be as great as the Jag is another conversation entirely.