Jag’s keen handling makes it difficult to drive conservatively
We find out whether how far an electric car can travel on a full charge is really dictated by driving style, with the help of a brace of new Jaguar EVs
It’s hard to hold back. Here you are, driving a car with 395bhp and 513lb ft, but you need to drive it in a not-in-a-hurry kind of way.
That isn’t because this is an electric car with a range minimal enough to send you into fretful anxiety within half an hour of getting in it, but because we’re conducting an experiment. Not a strictly empirical experiment, but one intended to find out how far you can go in an I-Pace if you drive it in a reasonable, speed-limit-observing manner, and how far you can go in one if, say, you’re cutting it a bit fine for a meeting.
Some real-world driving, then, and we have two I-Paces for the purpose. Both are ready to set out from Autocar’s satellite HQ in Feltham, Middlesex. Both have been on charge overnight, both are indoors and enjoying the same mild ambient temperature (more on this later) and both have the same destination. Which is Hinkley Point, in Somerset, the site not only of an existing nuclear power station, but also of a completely new (and controversial) nuclear power station that’s currently under construction.
The relevance, of course, is that some of the electricity generated by both these plants will be used to power, among other things, the rising numbers of EVs Hinkley Point also provides us with a realistic target. According to Zap-Map, a charger location smartphone app recommended by Jaguar, we have a choice of three routes.
The most interesting takes in motorways, A-roads, urban traffic and country lanes. This trip amounts to 139 miles, which on the face of it should be well within the I-Pace’s official WLTP driving range claim of 292 miles. Mind you, along the way we’ll be making a few diversions for photography, which will further eat into our available range.
Nevertheless, your reporter should be in for an anxiety-free drive behind the wheel of the red car. The idea is to drive the car normally but with energy saving very much in mind.
Eco-driving won’t be foremost in the mind of the man at the wheel of the blue I-Pace. This is the car that’s going to be driven by road tester Richard Lane, who will enjoy some of its considerable performance on his way to our seaside rendezvous.
Before we set off, I speak to James Matthews, the I-Pace’s vehicle integration manager, to better understand the art of maximising its range. He says: “An EV is similar to an internal combustion engine car [in that its] efficiency is quite temperature dependent. The temperature affects how much you can store and also how much you have available. Batteries are like human beings. They like to be in the 20-25deg C range before they’ll operate happily.”
For this reason, charging just before your journey is desirable not only because you can condition the temperature of the cabin, using the charging point’s power, but because the similar pre-conditioning of the battery improves its ability to give.
“Ideally you’d charge the battery with the car cold, and then warm the car with pre-conditioning. Then you can get more out of the battery,” says Matthews. For this reason, he explains, “the I-Pace’s coolant system is made up of three temperature management systems which are mixed and matched to get the battery to an optimal temperature when you start to draw current”.
After a night topping up on our identical chargers, the I-Paces’ ranges differ slightly despite the 100% battery reading. The blue car forecasts 252 miles, the red car 269 miles. That slight difference is about to be widened significantly – the blue I-Pace aiming for a swift arrival at Solstice services on the A303, where we’ll meet snapper Will Williams. Lane will drive his I-Pace in Normal mode, with occasional forays into Dynamic when the road invites it. The red I-Pace will remain firmly in its Eco setting, with the maximum regenerative effect engaged via the infotainment system.
In this form, the twin motors can produce as much as 0.4g of deceleration, which is enough to ensure that the brake pedal rubber experiences little wear.
And it doesn’t take long to be fascinated by the Jag’s urge to slow as you release the accelerator. It’s odd at first, but before long you’re able to avoid using the brakes, even if you must sometimes accelerate slightly to get to a junction until you’re better able to judge the ebb and flow of its progress. Even if you’ve driven an EV before, it’s unlikely to have provided deceleration this powerful. The novelty is intriguing. This high regeneration mode also eliminates the energy-wasting creep of an automatic, besides running assorted sub-systems in energy-saving states.
Your husbandry of Amperes can be viewed in the infotainment system by unearthing (and ‘unearthing’ is the word for locating information within this obtuse human-machine interface) the graphic which rates your use of accelerator, speed and brakes. By the time we reach the M3, I discover that I’ve already achieved five out of five on all three metrics, to score a 100% rating. Only the need for some sudden, traffic-avoiding acceleration knocks this back to 99%, suggesting that it’s very easy to reach a top score.
At Solstice services, 67 miles later, the speedy blue I-Pace has used 121 miles of its range and has 65% of battery life remaining. The red I-Pace has used only 32 miles of range, although its battery reserve is closer to the blue car’s at 70%.
By the time the cars are close to Hinkley Point, the range of both has been depleted considerably – it would seem for several reasons.
The most obvious is that they have covered more than 80 miles, this the distance between the services and a car park near Hinkley Point A power …read more