That Jaguar’s all-electric I-Pace is the 2019 World Car of the Year comes as no surprise to Mark Hedges, as he quickly falls in love with the big cat.
We’re all going to be driving electric cars at some point in the future, but the nagging question in my mind is when to make the switch from the tried-and-tested combustion engine to one of the new electric versions. Certainly, barely a week goes by without one of the major manufacturers launching a new electric car, but I have always worried that, as the technology is so relatively new, will it be better to wait a couple more years?
The all-electric Jaguar I-Pace had already won 2019 World Car of the Year before I climbed into the driving seat outside our offices in Farnborough and it is certainly the best of the fledgling crop of electric cars. The interior was as pleasing as anything I have driven and, although its angular, rugged appearance is not as delightful as some Jags, it grew on me.
There was plenty of space for a labrador in the back, too. Driving it made me feel happy, if not a little smug, that I was not contributing to global warming through the exhaust fumes.
A quick stamp on the accelerator is greeted with an instant response as the electrons shoot into the engine and, when pushed, it will take you from a standstill to 60mph in just 4.8 seconds – as it’s electric, there’s no time lag. Equally, when you take your foot off the accelerator, it slows down much faster than a conventional car. Once I got used to it, I fell in love with it.
The lack of engine noise is a delight on a long journey, although you do need to be careful when pedestrians are around. One woman jumped out of her skin when the big cat stalked her to within a few feet in the car park outside Waitrose in Haslemere. My apologies. It may look similar to all the other cars, but it’s a very different beast.
The elephant in the room with electric cars is the charging. The manufacturers claim that the I-Pace has a range of up to 292 miles, but I managed to reach about the 240 mark. That is less than half my current car can achieve on a full tank of fuel.
‘I do wonder, however, whether the future will see us swapping used or partially used batteries for fully charged ones, rather as we do calor-gas bottles for the BBQ’
Is that a problem? Generally no, it simply requires a change of habit. With 240 miles in the battery I could, in theory, drive from London to Hereford and back, which is far further than I would drive on 95% of the journeys I make. Instead of filling up my current car roughly once a week, the Jaguar is best charged whenever you get the opportunity and certainly every night.
Different chargers work at different speeds, too. A rapid charger – the kind found at most public charging stations – could, according to the manufacturers, achieve up to 168 miles of range per hour.
For optimum charging at home, you need to install an approved Jaguar wall box that can fully recharge the vehicle overnight. As I only had a 13-amp plug socket to use at home, it took almost a day and a half to fully recharge it.
I do wonder, however, whether the future will see us swapping used or partially used batteries for fully charged ones, rather as we do calor-gas bottles for the BBQ, rather than waiting for the charging process to take place.
That’s for the future, however. The arrival of the I-Pace has changed my mind about electric cars – this vehicle offers a truly wonderful driving experience in a beautifully thought-out interior. If I had a spare £65,000, I’d buy one tomorrow. It really is that good.
Mark Hedges wasn't happy when one of his favourite local restaurants closed its doors earlier this year — but its replacement has