A Jaguar without the roar? It’s here. As fast as an F-type, as spacious as a 7-series and as clean as a Zoe, the all-electric i-Pace is nothing more or less than ‘the modern car’ according to Jaguar. And it’ll be yours in 2018
Garage door retracts and out – silently – rolls the bluff, stubby nose of the first ever all-electric Jaguar. There’s a pause – choreographed, you’d like to think – for us to take in the sawn-off front overhang, then gargantuan 23-inch ‘Nighthawk’ wheel, before the raked, generous passenger cell begins to ooze through the aperture. It’s like the car’s silvery, aluminium form is being extruded through a mould: cockpit flowing on and on before dropping away sharply to an almost brutally squared-off tail. This is the i-Pace: welcome to the zero-emissions future, Jaguar-style.
Traditionally, the Jaguar form is long of bonnet, backwards of cab. But this silhouette is very different; more like a mid-engined supercar’s, with its cockpit amidships according to design chief Ian Callum. But why the very familiar Jaguar face on this breakthrough car, today a concept but in mid-2018 a production reality? “Because we’re still in the phase when every Jaguar must be instantly identifiable as a Jaguar,” says Callum. “We kept the family face largely unchanged for the electric vehicle, so that more people get to know and understand the brand.”
But when Tesla offers a saloon, a vast SUV and, shortly, a compact saloon, all with myriad drive options, why only one Jaguar, one bodystyle, one drivetrain option and one price? “This is the beginning of a new era,” states project chief Ian Hoban. “We don’t know yet how quickly battery electric vehicles [BEVs] will catch on, so it makes sense to tread lightly for awhile. But rest assured; there is plenty of scope for evolution built into this project.”
While Europe’s premium electric market is today occupied by Tesla (with Renault and Nissan pushing more affordable pure electric cars), consultants McKinsey predict proliferating BEVs will account for 10% of global car sales by 2020. A decade later this penetration is expected to soar to almost 40% as a comprehensive charging infrastructure takes root, and governments and city councils around the world penalise the internal combustion engine as they roll out the BEV red carpet. Which is kind of an anachronism, unless batteries quickly come down in cost, weight and raw material usage.
Some might see the i-Pace as a silent-running coupe version of the F-Pace. Beneath the skin, however, it is a completely different thing. While sharing the same flexible D7a aluminium architecture, the new BEV has essentially been developed from scratch. Just about the only significant carryover item is the double-wishbone front axle – and it shows. The i-Pace concept slowly glides to the end of a semi-circular tarmac patch – Ian Callum always seeks to introduce his new vehicles dynamically – then executes a long-winded about turn. By not making use of the void created by the absence of a combustion engine, the tight turning circle – a typical BEV asset – is conspicuous by its absence. “It does go quicker than this, but we’re just giving you time” to take it in, jokes Callum. “You can see it but you can’t hear it!”
Just enough familiarity with the funk
Design boss Ian Callum talks you around his first EV
“The rear end was very much shaped by wind tunnel work”,explains Callum. “It’s high and square, which is always a challenge for us Jaguar boys! But there’s still quite a bit of sculpture in it and a drag coefficient of less than 0.30 was our objective – 0.29 for this type of vehicle is pretty impressive.”
The i-Pace has a 530-litre rear luggage compartment but no front boot – the short nose houses a motor, charging systems, the inverter and…
Visible sports car DNA
… The silhouette is very dramatic,” says Callum. “The amount of rake we’ve put into the roof isn’t typical of an SUV… There are SUVs with more headroom but this is adequate. It’s very much a sports SUV. There’s a pronounced Coke bottle shape to the car and that, coupled with the positioning of the DLO [daylight opening, or glasshouse] give it the proportions of a mid-engined sports car. On an F-type you work to emphasise the long front and short rear; here I wanted to emphasise the fact that this car doesn’t have an internal combustion engine. You couldn’t fit a transverse engine in there…”
Bringing the drama
“You’ve got the dramatic lines of the roof and the Coke bottle and then the interesting details on the lower half of the car, emphasising the pods coming off the wheels. They help ground the car,” says Callum.
An electric motor turns the front axle, and Jaguar’s multi-link rear suspension was extensively modified to make room for a second electric motor, which requires more space than the differential you’d normally find there. Since there was no need to make room for a transmission tunnel and propshaft, the entire floorpan was turned into one big and heavy battery tray embedded in a liquid cooling circuit. The energy cells are pouch shaped, with 36 modules of 12 pouches per module. Easy underbody access will make it relatively easy to replace a module gone AWOL.
You would think that removing the engine, transmission and mechanical all-wheel-drive system would clear the road for a lightweight whisperliner, but Ian Hoban is quick to dash such hopes. “The kerbweight actually goes up to 2100kg; that’s a 300kg penalty over the F-Pace. “The frame filled with batteries adds 600kg to the tally, each motor brings with it 90kg including ancillaries, and the cooling system makes up for 100kg. That’s not bad for a BEV, but the F-Pace is trimmer.” Stretching the F-Pace’s wheelbase by 115mm to 2990mm has made room for more powerpacks and for more spacious rear accommodation.
Jaguar claims the vehicle offers Porsche Cayenne space in a Macan footprint. The heavy belly section subsides the centre of gravity by a useful 120mm compared with an F-Pace, and that’s before downgrading the concept’s 23-inchers for low-profile tyres on rims an inch smaller. The weight distribution is 50:50, the dimensions (4680mm long by 1890mm wide by 1560mm high) are more compact than those of Jaguar’s other SUV, and the proportions have also changed for the better. “We managed to pull the cowl forward by some 200mm,” explains Ian Callum. “This gives the car a sportier stance, and it creates a fresh visual balance between the shorter front and the stubby rear end. Because of the coupe roofline, a simpler four-lite greenhouse made more sense than the classic six-lite.”
Without going into detail, Jaguar describes the powertrain layout as consisting of two rare earth permanent magnet motors coupled to a synchronous single-speed epicyclic concentric transmission. Each electric drive unit (EDU) produces 197bhp and 258lb ft, which doubles up for a combined output of 394bhp and 516lb ft of torque. All-wheel drive is of course part of the package, as are an electrically fed air suspension and steering. The compact motors are relatively light at 38kg per unit, but auxiliaries such as the rear-mounted performance electronics push the tally to 90kg per EDU.