The Jaguar I-Pace does not arrive until 2018, right?
You're right, the I-Pace production is not revealed until the Geneva Motor Show in March next year, with first deliveries starting in the second half of 2018. But a year after the concept car was launched On LA show, a production prototype (one of more than 200 produced so far) returned to Hollywood to film with one of the first "hand raisers" that placed a deposit for Jaguar's first EV.
Ok, that explains the wrap, what else was covered?
All the interior, except for one stroke, was covered with black cloth. Frustrating, yes, but it added some authenticity of secret proof to the procedures. We are told that the test engineers have completed more than 1.5 million miles in several I-Pace prototypes in all environments, from the cold Arctic test center in Arjeplog to the Nevada desert, through innumerable wet roundabouts and B- roads in the Midlands. There is no air conditioning either.
Right, so it's warm and wrapped like a Christmas present. Could not I learn a lot from sitting in it, surely?
Normally we are not big fans of the ride disguised as passengers in the vehicle, but given the interest and rumor surrounding the first EV of Jaguar, we are prepared to break the rules this time. It is a fascinating project. In addition, Jaguar seems to be leaving behind its traditional German rivals to take the fight to Tesla, by offering a practical five-seat EV with impressive design and real reach. It deserves our attention.
So, what did you learn?
Jaguar will not confirm any final specifications before next year's launch, so let's start with what we know by concept. The I-Pace uses a 90kWh lithium-ion battery with prismatic cells with a bag that offers greater efficiency and faster charging.
This battery is located at the bottom of the I-Pace (as we are familiar with the Tesla) and offers 394bhp and 516lb feet of torque through the all-wheel drive system – made possible by placing a motor on the front axle and another in the back. The concept promised a range greater than 310 miles and a range of 0-60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds. With a fast 50kW DC load, charging the battery to 80% takes 90 minutes.
What happens from the passenger seat?
Leaving aside the inner disguise, the first thing that catches your attention is how airy and spacious the I-Pace is. Measuring 1.8 m wide, 1.56 m high and with a wheelbase of 4.6 m, the interior space and visibility is a strong point. It is also practical: seats for five, a decent size boot (530 liters, although 120 down in the F-Pace), plus an additional 36 liters of storage in the front.
My driver for the trip through downtown Los Angeles is one of Jag's senior electric vehicle engineers, Simon Patel. Simon has spent countless hours perfecting the I-Pace, and is clearly very proud of his creation. We go to the body to body of the city center, the I-Pace moves away with the effortless silence that we have become familiar with an EV. Our route takes us to the challenging streets of Los Angeles, plagued by changes in the surface, cracks, ripples and sewer covers.
All Jaguars look better on big wheels, and the same goes for the I-Pace: our test car is running 22s. A few years ago, anything mounted on 22-inch wheels would have been a recipe for breakneck progress, let alone something that would carry the mass of an EV over 300 miles, but the I-Pace handles the worst LA can throw. against him. with a beautiful conformity and solidity.
As the traffic clears and the speed increases, you become more aware of the noise that this new type of Jaguar creates as the engines and the gearbox become more difficult. It is a futuristic sound, sharp but technical. Simon is particularly proud of the details that went into creating it. "We spent a lot of time on the micro geometry of the gear and the manufacturing process," he says, "the way we press the gears ensures that it delivers exactly the right sound, or no sound at all … We've worked through the frequencies to design different characteristics, because it has to have some character. "
An EV that sounds good? Really?
To his credit, the noise of the I-Pace generates interest and character as the rhythm advances. Although my generation is preprogrammed to love the offset, the syncopated rhythm of a V8, to like it or to detest it, the character of the e-motors is going to be a battlefield of commitment for the coming generations.
Beyond the quality of travel and noise, or the lack of it, it's a Jaguar, and performance has to be one of its points of contact. For some time, Tesla has been breaking the Internet with its capabilities to kill giants (and readers of Top Gear magazine will know that we are currently running a Ludicrous Mode P90D) but as Simon obstructs it, the I-Pace offers a Sharp rhythm that my patented "top-dyno" easily compares with the P90D, possibly even with the P100D.
Then, when the car leans toward the corner, it stays level, the low center of gravity helps the dynamics. The fluidity of the suspension configuration really makes her feel more determined than the Californian opposition. The question is, will Jaguar have his own version of the ridiculous mode? "This is a Jaguar, performance will be available all the time," is Simon's response.
And what about the way that Tesla products are constantly updated? Is this something that Jaguar is looking at? "We will not confirm it or deny it, but let's say it would be an advantage to do so."
Work has been done on the way the torque is divided back and forth, too. Simon admits to having spent a lot of time on the test track testing several front and rear polarization ratios. "There's a part of the test track that I like to turn around and it can slide."
So it's going to drift?
"Yes", confirm. "During the tests, we would sit down with one of the engineers on your laptop changing the bias from front to back and you can change the tone you are addressing. The control you have with electric vehicles is incredible." Smile widely. "We generally optimize everything for efficiency and normal driving and then we have our Intelligent Driving Dynamics, which is found in the Powertrain Control Module and nullifies the efficiency and can change the torque forward or backward as needed."
we return to our starting point with the majority of viewers looking for their camera phones as we glide silently.
Although there is still some last minute left to do before its full disclosure at the Geneva show, it is a strong, practical and stylish rival of Tesla in a market that they have created and dominated to a large extent. The I-Pace seems to be a suitable rival for Musk products and should have the team at the Gigafactory looking over their shoulders from the beginning of next year.