Svelte, sporty and silent
Glamour model: Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar’s “Grace, space, pace” description of its car range is now rather last century, although still acclaimed as one of the most inspirational car slogans of all time. It has led, though, to the adoption of “Pace” on the badges of several of its current car range, as in E-Pace, F-Pace and I-Pace.
The latter is not only Jaguar’s first battery electric model, it is also significant as the first electric SUV from a premium European car maker. It woos executive customers who are instinctively early adopters, and who may previously have considered a Tesla.
By normal SUV standards, the aluminium-bodied I-Pace is rather svelte and sporty looking, with sleek lines crafted under the direction of Jaguar design chief Ian Callum. It has quite a squat stance for an SUV, both lower and wider than most of its ilk. Its behaviour has a sporty edge, too, with rapid acceleration and a strong punch when you floor the accelerator.
At the heart of the I-Pace is a large, shallow battery pack, comprising 423 lithium ion storage cells located under the floor of the cabin. They supply the energy to two electric motors, one for each axle, delivering power to all four wheels. So yes, the I-Pace is a 4x4, although it runs in two-wheel-drive at lower speeds.
Power is plentiful: 394 bhp of it, and a mighty 512 lb ft of torque. So it’s a quick car, with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph. The trouble is, that’s very inviting to make good use of and if you do drive the I-Pace with the eagerness it relishes, it won’t do the range between charges that you might wish it to.
Officially, its potential range fully-charged is 292 on the new WLTP (Worldwide harmonised Light Vehicle Procedure) test figures that are now in use across the motor industry. More realistically, in typical driving conditions the range is nearer 230-240 miles before you’re out of juice and at this time of year with lights, wipers and heating in use, it’s probably nearer 200 miles when you’re in need of a re-charge.
How long does that take? About 40 minutes to restore the battery level to 80%, using a 100kW rapid charger, at locations which you can find on route via zap-map.com. Or the car can be fully topped up overnight, using a home charge unit – essential kit for anyone owning an electric car.
The I-Pace rides nicely, on the firmer side of ride comfort, and has a clingy stance on a bendy road. It’s a fun drive and hugely refined, whisper-quiet in action. The downside is that the absence of any engine noise means you’re more aware of tyre rumble than in most cars.
The I-Pace is practical, with good passenger room and a 656-litre boot, stretching to 1,453 with the rear seats folded. Pricing starts from £63,495, discounted to £59,995 with the government’s plug-in car grant. Insurance is pricey at group 49, but Band A taxation means no charge for road tax in the first year. And the CO2 output is 0 g/km.
Tough and roomy
Business savvy: Citroen C5 Aircross
Citroen has re-found its mojo in recent years, after a period of some lacklustre models. It now has some notable cars in the range, including the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross and C4 Cactus. The most recent addition in an increasingly impressive line-up is the C5 Aircross, a mid-size SUV that is notable for its roominess, comfort and driving prowess. It is new in the range from February.
It is the latest car to benefit from the French company’s new Advanced Comfort measures that comprise clever and heavily patented “progressive hydraulic cushions” suspension design and seats that use layers of differently textured cushioning to give an unusually cosseting armchair feel.
The C5 Aircross is strong on practicality. It is taller than a typical saloon or hatchback, but less lofty than most similar size SUVs. It is good on cabin space, but also quite commodious at the back, with a boot that stretches from 580 to 720 litres, depending on where you position the slide-adjustable rear seats. When temporarily configured as a two-seater, with the three back seats folded, there is 1,630 litres of Ikea-trip cargo capacity.
The car is front-wheel-drive, sprightly on the road and notable for the way it makes light work of heavily pock-marked surfaces that currently seem to plague the south-east. A popular engine choice is expected to be the 1.5 litre BlueHDi diesel, with a 129 bhp power output, but the better performer for a high mileage business user is the long-legged two-litre, 174 bhp diesel with 295 lb ft of torque. Both six-speed manual and eight-speed auto transmissions are available.
Top choice is a 2.0 BlueHDi auto with a 131 mph top speed and 0-62 mph in 8.6 seconds, 124 g/km CO2 and a combined economy figure of 60.1 mpg. That might be a bit optimistic, but if you’re light on the throttle the car could do 700 miles from a full tank to empty.
Pricing starts from £22,305 for petrol models, and from £24,725 for a diesel. There are three trim levels: Feel, Flair and top-spec Flair Plus. The mid-range Flair is a good bet for useful equipment and price-consciousness, with standard satnav, reversing camera, front parking sensors, rear privacy glass and half-leather upholstery all included.
Photos: ©Sue Baker