"Motofest Coventry is a deep-rooted celebration of the area’s automotive culture. Festival director James Noble sketches out the light and shade of a century old story. Motofest director James Noble is passionate about the Coventry story. Picture: JM Drake "
Jaguar: Coventry Keeping Pace
It may be the most important Jaguar drop not made in Coventry. But a century of engineering chops has saturated this all-electric superstar, designed by Ian Callum.
Freezing dawn in the West Midlands. Jaguar’s plant is iced up in a rolling Warwickshire countryside covered in a dusting of hard white frost. Not the ideal conditions in which to take a ride in the most important Jaguar since the E-type. I pop the keys. The whirring whirrs. The LEDs flicker. We slip away into the steel cold.
Hold on. There’s an argument that every Jag edition since 1947 has been the most important. The problematic XF and the gorgeously sleek and anachronistic XJ were super important when they were released too. We won’t mention the S-type. Please. But these great cars have faded out of the consciousness, victims perhaps of a 20th Century way of being Jaguar. The world turns – and the direction of the spin is of course firmly away from internal combustion. And so the Coventry firm has been bold, which is its birthright – rolling with the inevitable direction of travel.
Ancient and modern: Coventry resounds with Jaguar culture. Picture: JM DRAKE
Jaguar has released, in the I-PACE, a fully electric premium car in the form of a high-end SUV. The format is not revolutionary, but it’s efficient and it evidently works well. Its two electric motors, one on each axle, produce permanent four-wheel drive and there’s the equivalent of 395 BHP and 513lb/foot of the twisty stuff. That means this is a nippy, dynamic motor apparently pulling away in 4.5 seconds and able to reach over 120mph in the top end. Energy is delivered via a 90KW lithium-ion battery, and Jag claims a 286-mile range, which, on this cold day, I expected to be challenged. It wasn’t. I’ve no idea how long it would take to charge. But overnight should suffice. How many of us drive more than 250 miles in one hit very regularly?
You step out gingerly if you’re not used to the electric impulse. No sound apart from that whirr and road noise. Forget the Coventry straight six brap and rumple. This is an appliance that hums and whirrs. The camera guys suggested it sounded like a spaceship as soon as we pulled up in front of Coventry Cathedral.
Not a spaceship – though it sounds like one. This is a driving machine. With clinical UX and UI. Picture: JM DRAKE
Winding into the centre of town – through the suburbs and A-roads and big old steak sizzler boozers clad in mock Tudor, you remember the working class heroes who found their ultimate expression around here. They still haunt these roads with their better-than-living wages and their unionised benefits, real-world apprenticeships and ever onward house prices and a NHS and Social Services that would shelter them and their families from cradle to grave. All this time to think. This I-PACE works so well. No thinking required. There’s seamless interaction between driver and machine. This is driving as user experience rather than mind-heart-body engagement. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be these days.
It would be easy to bleat on and on about how this shift from visceral emotion to UX and UI is something to mourn. But this multi-award winning design from the maestro that is Ian Callum might not look like an E-type. But nothing does. And when you dump your right foot there is that gorgeous Scalextric style straight line blaap. And though the design of the I-PACE’s chunky hunker isn’t gonna be for everyone, it’s not unpretty – with this 20s and a sort of seamless flow of lines that recalls the other Callum classics enough to be easy on the eye. Just enough to make this car make absolute sense for many folks who like their driving clean, serene and with a hint of heritage.
Little fat in the rear three quarter – but see that rear end righteousness: worthy of the leaping cat. Picture: JM DRAKE
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