In the Jaguar Land Rover engineering design studio, a time came, when designers decided to put on their thinking caps again. They imagined an unusual engineering concept, a departure from the usual. At last, they did it. Jaguar I-Pace, a true departure from popular electric vehicles, was born. But the question remains: To what extent is the machine a departure from the past? FRANK BOYEDE digs for an answer…
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the most visually arresting concepts ever produced by Jaguar, the I-PACE emerged as an exceptional vehicle that combines an advanced cab-forward design inspired by the C-X75 supercar with the smooth silhouette of a coupe – in a five-seater SUV. The machine embodies the technological advances under its skin – and the Jaguar design team’s belief that consumers are ready for bolder electric vehicle designs.
After coming out with I-Pace, elated Jaguar’s Design Director, Ian Callum, has this to say: “The opportunities offered by an electric powertrain are huge. Electric vehicles offer designers much greater freedom, and it is an opportunity we must grasp.
“This is why the I-PACE Concept is developed on a new architecture which has been designed to optimise electric vehicle performance, aerodynamics and interior space “With the I-PACE Concept, the revolution is in the profile, not the design language.
“The profile is possible because this car is electric. It’s not just that we wanted to create something that was very different from anything else we do: we wanted the design to celebrate the new battery electric technology.
“I was determined from the very beginning of this project to create a design which reflected this change in the mechanics of the car. This is what led to the sporty cab-forward profile rather than a car with a bonnet and an engine.”
With its streamlined profile, sweeping lines, large wheels and muscular rear haunches, the I-PACE Concept brings together hallmarks of the Jaguar brand with new lines, made possible by the a state-of-the-art electric powertrain.
The long wheelbase and short overhangs enable a coupe-like roofline. The cabin sits low between sweeping fenders, creating a sense of movement and giving the body a fast, tapering waistline. The dynamic window lines further enhance the sports car looks. The cab-forward design is accentuated by the windscreen’s fast angle and heavily curved glass, flowing down into a low bonnet that adds to the sense of supercar style.
The muscular wheel arches are sculpted around breathtaking 23-inch Nighthawk wheels in Technical Grey with Gloss Black inserts and a beautiful diamond-turned finish, which broadcast the I-PACE Concept’s sense of purpose. Their dynamic intent is enhanced by bespoke 265/35/R23 tyres with a unique tread pattern. The powerful rear haunches add to the muscular stance, further enhancing its sports car-like poise.
The low bonnet, flanked by curving wheel arches, combines sports car aesthetics with an SUV’s presence. A broad, distinctive grille with a hexagonal grid in gloss black retains a key element of Jaguar design DNA while also providing aerodynamic benefits.
Airflow also passes through the C-X75-derived bonnet scoop, helping to reduce drag. Slimline full LED headlights with Jaguar’s signature Double-J daytime running light motif further emphasise the vehicle’s clean lines.
The fast-angled slope of the rear window is aerodynamic and uses an advanced hydrophobic glass coating to eliminate the visual clutter of a rear wiper. The line contrasts with the vehicle’s squared-off end and extended rear three-quarter that project power and improve efficiency.
The LED tail lamps, while similar to those on other Jaguar models, square off the roundel graphic for an edgier and more technical look. A broad, high-mounted LED stop lamp is integrated invisibly beneath the spoiler, visible only when the driver brakes.
Comfort and Space
The I-PACE Concept also demonstrates just how much interior space Jaguar’s cab-forward design and electric powertrain creates.
The driver and passengers sit lower than in conventional SUVs. The I-PACE Concept’s slimline seats position the hips lower in relation to the heels. This ‘Sports Command’ driving position provides a sports car’s sense of connection with the road.
The I-PACE Concept’s cab-forward position, low bonnet and short overhangs provide the driver with an exceptional view of the road and the vehicle’s surroundings. A little like the Jaguar E-Type, the front wings beautifully frame the road ahead, enabling drivers to select the line through corners with confidence.
The interior’s breadth and feeling of spaciousness is clear from the moment the door opens. Entering the I-PACE Concept, the driver can view the entire width of the flat floor through a cantilevered centre console, providing an immediate sense of the space the vehicle’s innovative design has created.
The instrument panel is positioned low and its simple horizontal lines and minimalist switchgear help further emphasise the interior’s size. The centre console cossets the driver, with two ‘looping’ metal struts beautifully framing the access to a stowage area under the control panel – a motif that will recur in other future Jaguars.
These struts also enable a tactile replacement to the traditional gear shifter. Buttons integrated into the strut enable the driver to reach down and select forward, neutral, park or reverse intuitively with a simple press of the thumb.
“When you get behind the wheel, the driving experience reflects the I-PACE Concept’s dynamic design,” remarked Mike Cross, Chief Engineer of Vehicle Integrity, Jaguar Land Rover. “It’s a true Jaguar and we will prove that a zero emission vehicle can be a true driver’s car. We proved with the F-PACE that a performance crossover can deliver the agility, connected feel and ride quality you’d expect from a Jaguar. Now we’re going to do the same with the I-PACE Concept: this will be the first electric vehicle developed for enthusiasts who love driving.”
The Digital Car
The I-PACE Concept introduces Jaguar’s new intuitive ‘flightdeck’ approach for the controls interface. The design philosophy emphasizes controls that fall ergonomically to hand and technology that promotes driver engagement.
The I-PACE Concept’s floating centre console is a key element in advances in Jaguar’s cockpit ergonomics, utility and performance. The console rises to connect with the dashboard and ensconce the driver, and provides a level of mechanical connection with the vehicle by positioning gearshift functions on its metal struts.
Information is shared with the driver with elegant simplicity. Graphic elements of the human machine interface (HMI) have an editorial, monochromatic feel with a warmer, more human focus, mirroring current technology trends. Lighter font weights and the sparing use of colour allows on-screen information to breathe, improving communication and reducing the driver’s information workload.
Touchscreens, intuitive rotary dials and multi-function buttons offer the perfect balance of tactile analogue controls and interactive digital interfaces, ensuring the driver’s eyes need only follow the road, not their fingers.
The primary interface is a 12-inch TFT touchscreen blended seamlessly into the surface of the instrument panel.
A separate, 5.5-inch secondary touchscreen is paired with two laser etched aluminium rotaries that encase vibrant HD circular displays. This allows occupants to configure infotainment and climate whilst keeping full screen information on the 12-inch display above.
The I-PACE Concept also features a configurable 12-inch HD virtual instrument cluster and a full-colour head-up display, ensuring that the driver is always presented with the information they need when and where they need it.
The I-PACE Concept also introduces a new three-spoke steering wheel with multi-function capacitive switches. These remain invisible until illuminated, improving aesthetics and putting more functionality at the driver’s fingertips. To make them more tactile, they also feature a ‘micro-click’ haptic when pressed.
Like the state-of-the-art InControl Touch Pro infotainment system offered in the current range of Jaguar vehicles, the I-PACE Concept’s system is designed in-house around a powerful quad-core processor, a high-speed solid-state drive and the unequalled bandwidth of the ultra-fast Ethernet network – nothing else can transfer more data more quickly. Combined, they deliver exceptional performance, responsiveness and functionality.
The I-PACE Concept’s dynamics and responsiveness are further improved by the battery’s ideal position beneath the floor and between the axles, which lowers the centre of gravity and reduces yaw inertia.
Jaguar Land Rover engineers designed and developed the synchronous, permanent magnet electric motors in-house to achieve the most compact design, greatest efficiency and maximum power density. They have an outer diameter of just 234mm and are only 500mm long.
Rather than the conventional, offset configuration which places the transmission in front of the motor, the I-PACE concept features a more space-efficient concentric layout, which contributes directly to the excellent ground clearance and spacious interior.
Electrification also enables greater comfort: by selecting a higher level of regenerative braking in stop-and-go traffic, for instance, the driver can drive with a single pedal, with no need to apply the brakes to halt the car.
To ensure drivers can enjoy and safely exploit the I-PACE Concept’s performance in even the worst conditions, the inherent benefits of all-wheel drive are enhanced with Jaguar’s unique
state-of-the-art traction technologies, including All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) and Adaptive Surface Response (AdSR).
“Electric motors provide immediate response with no lag, no gearshifts and no interruptions. Their superior torque delivery compared to internal combustion engines transforms the driving experience,” said Ian Hoban, Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar Land Rover. “With 700Nm and the traction benefits of all-wheel drive, the I-PACE Concept accelerates from 0-100km/h in around four seconds.”