The Brits take charge of the electric arms race


ADDICTIONS ARE all consuming - a sensation that fills you with an insatiable need to live through an experience with endless repetition. The satanic acceleration of a performanceorientated electric vehicle (EV), like Jaguarís I-Pace, gives you that. You know itís going to hurt your range, but the hunger to be thrown back into the seat needs to be satiated. And with 100 per cent of the 696Nm arriving from standstill, the urge is too great.

The theory behind something like the I-Pace (and Tesla) is becoming sound. But the fact that the first true Elon Musk fighter, a somewhat Ďnormalí SUV-thing, has come from the usually conservative Brits seems anything but commonplace.

However, normal is an adjective often befitting the I-Pace. The middle-spec SE is positively upmarket and justifies its $130,200 price tag. Premium materials abound and the sound deadening has been amped up to cancel road noise given thereís no traditional combustion engine. Thereís a Meridian stereo if your track isnít The Sound of Silence.

The thing is, you donít get addicted to normal. And with a combined output of 294kW and 696Nm from the synchronous permanent magnet electric motors (one for each axle creating allwheel drive), itís bloody quick. And itís not just off the line, with the Jag tackling 80km/h-plus overtaking manoeuvres with vigour - the rate of progress drops the closer you get to its 200km/h top speed. Activate Dynamic mode for heightened responses and the I-Pace emits a very Ďcoolí Jetsons-esque tone.

Storing the energy to propel the I-Pace is the 90kWh lithium-ion battery stowed in the chassis floor to create a low centre of gravity and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Its construction is also 94 per cent aluminium despite tipping the scales at 2133kg. That weight is dealt with amicably, too, with roll impressively quelled, if not overt body movements. Rolling on the smaller 20-inch wheels and with the $2002 optional adaptive electronic air suspension, the SEís ride quality is cosseting at all speeds.

While thereís no price to pay at a traditional service station, there is in terms of liveability. Exercise your right foot and the range plummets - range anxiety is real. Take liberties with the fact the I-Pace can reach 100km/h in 4.8sec and the claimed range of 480km quickly becomes comical. Put the shoe on the other foot and youíll hardly need the left pedal given the aggressive regenerative braking. Finding a public, specialised 100kW charging station is vital as youíre treated to an 80 per cent Ďrefillí in Ďjustí 40 minutes.

As good as the Jaguarís I-Pace is in terms of normalising EVs, itís hamstrung in a performance context despite having reserves of it. You can never get far enough away from the CBD to exploit its inherent dynamic abilities - youíre confined to city limits dragging unsuspecting HSVs to get your kicks. Ultimately itís an addiction without enough convenience to fuel it.