There is a certain nervousness around the next generation of cars. Will it be electric, will diesel cars be banned, should you buy petrol or, as l suspect, it might be none of these. Hence, the great British public has virtually halted the purchase of new cars whilst they wait for someone to answer their questions and, in the process, are helping to bankrupt the car industry.
My personal feeling is that the hydrogen cell will soon be the fuel of choice as it requires no costly and dirty power stations to produce the stuff, requires no mass investment in a world-wide chain of charging stations, results in no mountain of batteries once they have lived their life and no range anxiety. Admittedly, it will not arrive until they can work out how to stop it exploding but the canny Japanese are on the case day and night and once perfected, it produces nothing but a dribble of water from the tailpipe, is in abundant supply as it is in the air all around us and you will be able to fill up at the normal petrol station. In the meantime, hybrids and full electric cars are shooting off the production line at a rate of knots.
Tesla carries the electric flame but these cars are hindered by very high purchase prices. Nissan has the Leaf (reviewed recently) but it is a tad dull although a great town car and there are others but having just spent a week with the new Jaguar l-Pace, l have to say it is fantastic.
All this kWh lark you need to understand when looking at the power options is a tad confusing and l don’t have space here to explain it, suffice to say this car has a 90 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, perfect for what we all need, and was developed by JLR, and 90 minutes to charge to 80%. It produces 394bhp from two electric motors driving the rear and front axles and 60mph arrives in a rather startling 4.5 seconds. Jaguar state that you could get 500km on a single charge but in normal driving conditions, that is absolute rubbish. 200 miles is the best you will get which is not too shabby but still requires some serious planning to do a long journey, allowing time for charging, finding chargers that are not broken and ensuring you have a very light right foot when accelerating.
The upside is that it is a very pretty car, beautifully designed, well equipped and the acceleration is electrifying. That’s the thing with electric cars - with no moving engines parts, no pistons flying up and down, no fuel being squirted that has to be exploded by spark plugs to get propulsion, there is zero lag on acceleration. It is beautifully, superbly linear and just keeps going until you run out of road or courage. And of course, zero emissions.
This is a ground-up new car and is a brave step into this market for JLR whilst the major German manufacturers lag behind Tesla. But ignoring the power plant, this is still just a car that needs to do all the things that we are used to from new cars.
Firstly, its exterior design is beautiful - 20-inch blacked out wheels and fabulous proportions. The stubby nose brings the front wheels forward and the squared off backend sets the silhouette. Jags iconic flush door handles clean the lines, and the vented bonnet and rear spoiler bookend the whole leaving a really nicely designed automobile.
The interior is great although not perhaps the space age look l was expecting but we do have three screens and a floaty console aka the Velar, and the Recaro seat position is superb with the right bolster and ride height but without the bulk that contributes to overall weight. Weight has always been the enemy of performance but in an electric car, it is also the enemy of range and that is the elephant in the room with all these cars, but onto that later. With the front wheels moving forward, the interior space is very good and the boot space matches that of even estate cars. In short, it’s a really nice, totally silent place to be. You can be rightfully smug in this. Then you can, smugly, keep pace with a 911 or Audi RS.
The elephant is no surprise as it is range and ease of charging. If you have the standard 7kw home charger then it will take ten hours to charge to 80%. If you can fit or find a 100kWh charger, then that drops dramatically to 40 minutes but the trouble is the charging network is currently not fit for purpose. Way too many 7kw chargers out there, then add in the broken ones and the horrific collection of different charging cards and apps, all to be understood in the rain scrutinising a small plastic sign.
A total nonsense and about as much thought has been put into planning this network as planning Brexit. Embarrassingly little indeed. Surely, with the constant hammering that we should buy electric and discounts offered through government grants to buyers, there should be five times the number of chargers, they should all be 100kw and they should all be free. They should be all be available on a deal like our phones, on a no deposit, pay monthly basis and we should be able to upgrade whenever we wish with no balloons, deposits penalties or fuss. Sort this out and you would see the dumping of ye olde fossil cars and the largest take up of new cars in the history of the Industrial Age.
You can go where you want with this car but you have to plan. Spend your day in town or poodling to and from the same workplace, then this is for you as it will go all week on a charge. The former plus a variety of journeys of under 60 miles, all good for days. But if, like me, you are all over the place with little knowledge of where you might be on any given day, and/or have family over 70 miles away that you see regularly, then plan plan and plan. Time has to be allowed for the charging and if you find a good 50Kw or 100Kw charger and it is free, then you have 168 miles per hour of charge which is a coffee, pee and a few emails on the car’s 4G WiFi. But on a slower charger you are there way longer and, as in my case with a Tesla recently, l got a 60 quid fine for overstaying in the motorway service station!!
In conclusion, this is a really good car and you should not hesitate to buy it tomorrow, above caveats notwithstanding, as whatever comes along, electricity will always be available. Price wise it is not cheap at £74,445. The long-awaited Tesla 3 is expected to come in at £35,000 and will hoover up the small car market, but there will still be a good sized market looking for that added luxury and who will pay for this car and, when they bring out the SVR version, l might die and go to heaven.
Hats off to Jaguar Land Rover for this brave step into the future. As to you naysayers who will never even consider electric, wake up and smell the diesel fumes. Bet you said you wouldn’t ever have a smart phone or dump your vinyl or 8-track for CDs? If we don’t buy them, they will not increase the charging network and we will be back to square one – killing the polar bears, and our children. If you have my diary, then buy a hybrid with a tiny petrol engine that charges the batteries but really, you will have to make the switch and the car industry needs you.
If you have the cash, this is an excellent car from a ‘British’ car manufacturer and if we don’t buy, they cannot develop, if they cannot develop they will die and we will all mourn the loss.
Model tested: 400PS HSE
Engine: EV400 90kWh
Speed: 0-60 4.5 seconds
Economy: quotes 292 miles
Price from: £74,445