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Jaguar I-Pace Driven Review South Africa

Jaguar I-PACE Driven

We drive the Jaguar I-PACE on the national media launch in South Africa 

Whether we like it or not, it would seem as though the future of motoring is electrification. And yes, there are certain manufacturers who are exploring all manner of alternative means of power such as hydrogen fuel-cells and fart harvesting but ultimately, this is an expensive exercise, whichever route they go. As a result, the future now points in the direction of whichever platform the major manufacturers gravitate to, and in case you’ve been living under a rock, that platform is good old electricity.

Jaguar I-PACE Charging

The concept of an electric car isn’t a new one, and while modern electric motors are now capable of hurtling vehicles to and fro with eye-watering capability, the electric car’s Achilles heel has always been range. This, coupled with the fact that the uptake on electrification in South Africa hasn’t exactly been rapid means that charging stations are few and far between. Now as much as everybody loves to save the world and nature, given a choice between walking home and a turtle living a few extra years, I know which one ‘Trish’ from Sandhurst is choosing…

So the solution, then; a little more convenience than a conventional car, a range somewhat akin to that of a full tank of petrol and a zhuzh badge so that ‘Trish’ doesn’t feel like she’s being robbed of her “status”. Bless.

And so we introduce the Jaguar I-PACE, the British manufacturer’s first foray into the world of full electrification. The numbers alone are staggering, 294 kW, 696 N.m and 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, however, the game changer here is a claimed range of nearly 500 km. As with a reciprocating motor, the range is heavily dependent on how the vehicle is driven, but given that that is nearly double the range of any other electric thing that’s been on sale in South Africa before, it would seem as though Jaguar are onto something…

Jaguar I-Pace Front

Of course, there’s that gentleman named Elon from Pretoria who also makes some pretty great electric vehicles, which feature in some pretty hilarious YouTube videos, but those aren’t on sale in South Africa nor are there concrete plans for the brand to be introduced anytime soon, so I’ll mention neither him nor his vehicles again.

Think of the I-PACE as South Africa’s Tesla, oops, sorry. First and foremost, Jaguar Land-Rover, henceforth to be known as JLR, already have an existing dealer network from which to work. This is crucial as not only does a brand require a distribution network, but also the backup in order to service the vehicles, which isn’t all too often in an electric vehicle FYI…

Secondly, and this is imperative for a platform such as electrification to pick up, there need to be rapid vehicle chargers with enough frequency along routes to warrant long distance journeys in an electric vehicle. JLR have invested R30 million into building an electric infrastructure to support theirs as well as other manufacturers’ electric products. It’s worth noting, however, that Audi has stated that they won’t be making use of this particular network, GridCars, as they would prefer to keep everything in-house. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to charge your e-Tron on this system, but it does mean that the I-PACE shall remain peerless in the electric game for a little longer.

What’s it like?

And so with all of that out of the way, what is the Jaguar I-PACE actually like? Well, it’s a strangely proportioned thing, but there’s no mistaking its Jaguar DNA – its handsome from most angles. Featuring a “cabin forward” design, it makes use of all sorts of clever aerodynamic features in order to reduce its drag coefficient and get the most out of its 90 kW/h battery. And what a battery that is. While maintenance on an electric vehicle isn’t huge at all, the cost of replacing the battery every 100 000 km or so is eye-watering. Jaguar have a solution for this, though.

The battery itself is made up of individual cells which are able to be replaced independently of each other. What this means is that when a cell dies, it is no longer necessary to replace the entire battery pack at vast expense, but rather just replace the cell that has given up the ghost. Think television remote, but on a much grander scale.

Just as a side note, the I-PACE is paving the way for the brand’s future in which they state that all models will feature an electrified derivative by 2020.

Jaguar I-PACE rear

One could argue that by purposefully making electric vehicles/hybrids look vastly different from their guzzling counterparts, manufacturers initially created a niche for these vehicles where in actual fact people just wanted the same old car but with a different means of propulsion. Sure, there’s the odd person here and there who fancies driving around in an upright zen garden or a Tron inspired sedan/hatchback mishmash, but for the most part people gravitate to what is familiar to them.

Jaguar have hit the nail on the head with the I-PACE’s styling – it’s interesting, but not interesting in the same way that a Prius or an Insight is interesting. The interior is what you’d expect from a Jaguar, swathed in lovely leather, tactile plastics, cool-to-the-touch glass and metals and – a personal favourite – wood trim! Now of course, different veneers and trim options are available, but build quality is impeccable throughout, no matter the specification.

What this means is that ‘Trish’ will be able to climb straight out of her F-Pace/Cayenne/X5 and into an I-Pace without A) having to attend night classes in order to operate her new vehicle and B) feeling as though she has had to sacrifice her school run status for the well-being of the forests. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly futuristic, but by no means alienating. This is the first feather in the I-PACE’s cap.

Jaguar I-PACE interior

The second has to do with how well thought out the whole package is. From charging to driving to small details such as being able to change how severe the brake regeneration is when you lift off the throttle, sure it’s been done before but for some reason it just feels better in the Jag.

How does it drive?

From a performance perspective, the Jaguar I-PACE is a veritable blast! That 696 N.m lump of torque is available from 0 rpm and as such, overtaking is actually hilarious, as is launching the car from a standstill. Due it’s low centre of gravity, torque vectoring and 50:50 weight distribution, its remarkably nimble and balanced through the twisties. 0-100 km/h is dealt with in 4.8 seconds, all in complete silence. Because there is no engine noise, all you can here are belongings being flung around the cabin under heavy acceleration and at highway speeds, there is very little wind noise thanks to double glazing on the front windows. The response from the steering isn’t hugely communicative, but one must remember at whom the I-Pace is aimed – our friend ‘Trish’. However, that’s not to say that her ‘hubby’ would have a problem taking it for a little weekend blast – it’s a hoot to drive! So the actual vehicle is great, but what about the infrastructure?

Charging Infrastructure

JLR have invested big money into South Africa and in partnership with GridCars, they have deposited 82 60 kW charging stations around the nation, most importantly along arterial routes that people use to get to their holiday destinations. So no, you’re not likely to find a charging station in Bothaville, yet.

Dubbed the Jaguar Powerway, the Garden route and the N3 to Durban are two of the important routes that make up this ecosystem of chargers. With a battery capacity of 90 kWh, the chargers are capable of charging the I-Pace from 0% to 100% in just 90 minutes or alternatively you can gain 100 km of range for every 20 min which will give you an extra 300 km while you enjoy a casual lunch at Harrismith, for example.

Now of course skeptics will make mention of the current ‘power crisis’ with which we are faced in South Africa, but the reality is that with the majority of our electricity coming from coal powered stations which can’t exactly be ‘switched off’ from sunset to sunrise, we have a significant surplus of energy which is actually just being wasted. In other words, if you charge your vehicle as you would your mobile phone when you head to bed in the evening, there are no downsides whatsoever.

The 7.4 kW home charger will set you back more or less R30 000, depending on how far your garage is from your house, and will take 12 hours to fully charge your Jaguar I-PACE from empty, but the idea is that your I-PACE never really reaches “0 electricities” but rather you just top it up as you would your Apple Watch. At R1.94 kW/h, a full charge on the Jaguar I-PACE will set you back R174.60. That’s significantly cheaper than the price of a full tank of petrol, and when you consider a realistic range of 400 km, the cost savings start to become pretty evident, however…

Living in the stone ages, we are subject to an additional 7% tax on electric vehicles which means that the I-PACE is between R100 000 and R130 000 more expensive than it should be – in most countries, electric vehicles are tax exempt so we can only hope that a proverbial spark is ignited somewhere in the near future.

Jaguar I-PACE pricing in South Africa

As such, pricing is on a par with equivalent performance SUV’s, however it’s worth noting that the Jaguar I-PACE is a little smaller than competitors. The I-PACE comes with an 8-year/160 000 km battery warranty and due to the fact that electric vehicles don’t require as much maintenance as a conventional car, service intervals are every 2 years or every 34 000 km.

S                       R1 687 230 SE                     R1 745 540 HSE                  R1 829 880 First Edition    R1 920 700

So, is the Jaguar I-PACE the future? Well, no, not really. It is, however, a really good glimpse into the future of motoring. Arguably, it’s the first of the all-electric vehicles that the owner doesn’t need to supplement with a petrol powered vehicle, too. You could easily own an I-PACE and only an I-PACE, and if you ask me, that’s a big step in the right direction. If this is what we have to look forward to, then we can’t wait for what is yet to come!

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