66 Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2018 - Page 79

The car itself is impressive. But there is another subtler reason to be wowed by the fact this vehicle exists at all. Especially as it does, with Jaguar’s graceful ‘leaper’ badge on the boot lid. Forget E-Types and XJ220s. The I-Pace is almost certainly Jaguar’s most important model ever. The fact it is a pure BEV (battery-electric vehicle) isn’t bad going for a company that has traded so heavily for so long on its heritage value. The fact that Jaguar beat the German brands to market with a well-spec’d, well-built, spacious premium electric vehicle is, in and of itself, proof positive that the marque has never been in better health. For anyone who ever grimly stared back at the Christmas tree lights of an inert XJ40’s dashboard of a rainy Monday morning in the 1990s, the Jaguar of today will feel like an utterly different company altogether. And it probably doesn’t need to be reiterated, but the I-Pace is an entirely different car. It’s an exceptionally good car; I won’t beat about the bush there. But the I-Pace is also vitally important because it’s the first car purposefully engineered in a post-Tesla world, designed first and foremost to play that very same upstart brand at its own game. It’s an impressive car boasting the roominess of a conventional SUV, the high-tech infotainment-orientated attributes of the best that Jaguar Land Rover has to offer and – here’s the important bit – the engaging drivability of a car built by car people. Tesla’s Model X – the vehicle the Jaguar I-Pace has firmly in its sights – is phenomenal in a straight line. That’s its party trick. Show it a corner, however, and things don’t proceed quite as seamlessly. It is, at its heart, a smart device with wheels. Don’t throw stones: its makers essentially suggest as such. Conversely, Jaguar encouraged media attending the I-Pace’s international press launch to lap Portugal’s famed Portimão Circuit, near Faro, in anger. The car gripped. It turned in. It accelerated like Left Unconventional at first glance, there is definitely Jaguar DNA apparent in the I-Pace. Above The I-Pace’s bluff rear-end is purposefully designed to help settle turbulent air at speed. Below With Tesla’s Model X firmly in its sights, the I-Pace presents SUV-like proportions 66 MagAzine SPRING 2018 77