Geneva 2018 – Reflections in a Golden-I

Our Auto-Didaktic Geneva correspondent casts his eye over Jaguar’s I-Pace and comes away impressed.


Last week we discussed the advent of JLR’s EV pathfinder and pondered how many brave pills Dr. Speth and Jaguar’s Ian Callum had ingested prior to the car’s reveal last thusday. The answer?

Well, possibly not the entire bottle, but a very generous handful nonetheless. Rather than what could have been a watered down, scarcely recognisable facsimile, Jaguar have delivered what could perhaps be the first truly desirable BEV.

Our man on the ground concurs. “It really is very good. It probably isn’t THE gamechanger, but it is the gamechanger for Jaguar and by far the most convincing product they’ve come up with for what feels like an eternity. Everybody I’ve spoken to rated it as the best production car at the show. It’s the car of the minute, that’s for sure”.

Nevertheless, it isn’t simply a matter of unreserved praise for Jaguar’s new EV. “Some of the detailing isn’t all that good, like that black plastic panel below the doors. I guess in graphic terms it’s necessary, otherwise it would just be too bottom heavy, but it’s a shiny piece of black plastic that’s not terribly convincing”.

How about that cockpit? “The interior isn’t Jaguar-like at all, but it feels moderately modern and advanced. It’s not outstanding, but certainly does the job more so than recent Jaguar cabins”.

The fact that JLR’s German rivals saw fit to show at least a partial EV hand at Palexpo – Mercedes releasing a video of the EQ winter testing and Audi’s fleet of disguised E-Tron prototypes – does suggest that Jaguar have for once in their lives stolen quite a significant march.


Not simply in being first to market either. Because while I-Pace is the first credible production electric car to overtly reject traditional ICV forms for its own aesthetic, both Audi and Mercedes appear to be cleaving to a rigidly conformist ‘don’t scare the horses’ SUV formality. A matter which doesn’t appear to have been lost on Jaguar’s bullish design representatives at Geneva either.

The current unknown of course is whether the Midlands carmaker, or the big-league German duo have made the correct call in visual terms. For that, only the market can decide. But right now, the momentum does appear to be with the leaping cat. Now that isn’t something one gets to say very often.

For more Auto-Didaktic views on Geneva, click here

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

10 thoughts on “Geneva 2018 – Reflections in a Golden-I”

  1. The correct call in visual terms – for me it’s clearly on Jaguar’s side. After the i3, finally we have another electric car that doesn’t look like they have just replaced the engine in a traditional layout.
    It’s still a bit SUVvy in my eyes, and it could have larger windows, but the long wheelbase, the fastback, and the hint of one-volume silhouette are superb.
    I hope the car is actually as good as it looks, and that Jaguar is rewarded for its bravery, sales-wise.

  2. “(…) I-Pace is the first credible production electric car to overtly reject traditional ICV forms for its own aesthetic”

    Does it really? It’s not that obvious to me, at least from the pictures.

  3. I like the I-Pace apart from the dreadful name. It also suffers from the continuing EV problem of what to put at the front instead of a grille.

  4. The ‘grille’ is symptomatic of a typical Ian Callum design – professionally done, great proportions, but the odd inexplicable jarring detail. Fake plastic ‘chicken wire’ never ever works, does it?

    Overall though, it looks great to me. It’s not really an SUV at all, but the marketers will like that label. It looks confident but not aggressive.

    I wouldn’t call it the first truly desirable electric vehicle – both Tesla and the BMW i3 are pretty desirable, I’d say – but it certainly seems like the right product at the right time.

  5. Tesla has restyled the S to give it a pursed lip instead of a mouth/grille. The 3 already looks austere from inception.

    Jaguar has retained a grille with I-Pace. My belief is that many people like a grille (mouth) flanked by lights (eyes) whether they realize it or not. But a grille is not needed here to front a non-existent radiator, so some people’s logic may understandably dismiss the giant maw as useless and therefore unbecoming.

    So, since the I-Pace does bow to the electric gods with a truncated bonnet, the inclusion of the grille is the question to ponder. And not just for Jaguar. The long term styling orthodoxy for EVs has not yet been set. So all manufacturers are on tiptoes about this grille thing, it seems to me.

    That aside, I do like the look of the I-Pace a lot myself. If the price wasn’t so far out of sight in my jurisdiction with no subsidies whatsoever for EVs, getting one of these as a final statement before shuffling off this mortal coil from old age would be on the cards.

    It’s the first modern EV I’ve been attracted to. The Tesla hype disgusts me. EVs are old technology, but to the Believers, you’d think Musk had single-handedly invented them from scratch. Tesla seems incapable of designing a decent interior, or even assembling what they do have in premium fashion. The Jaguar avoids this problem entirely, and assembly by Magna-Steyr is no bad thing at all either.

    A very fine effort all around in my view. I hope it meets with great success.

  6. Why are some still reluctant to accept a “grille less” front ? We’ve had seventy years of Porsche along with many others along the way to get used to the concept yet some still harbour this idea of it being a negative.
    Fake grills are past their sell by date as they serve no practical purpose on electrics other than a heritage symbol to their conventionally powered relatives.
    This is no doubt one of the reasons Musk shunned grilles as there was no lineage to follow.
    The I-Pace may appeal to some but I’m not impressed, I see nothing ground breaking either inside or out but do applaud their choice of introducing an EV, albeit one that is only for those in a certain financial bracket.

    1. Perhaps another way to look at it is to view it as an enlarged badge. Car manufacturers like JLR have spent a huge amount of time and money in creating a visual identity (to say nothing of those who have always had one) and are not going to be keen to jettison it overnight. One might decry this as being in thrall to the past, but in a rapidly converging visual landscape, it’s one of the few visual differentiators left.

      I’m anything but convinced of the wisdom in adopting a grille-less nose simply because it is no longer necessary. After all, car designers are still searching for a credible form language for the EV and will be understandably reluctant to simply consign a powerful signifier into the waste basket on a whim. Anyway, one could frame a perfectly cogent argument that to do so is simply another form of visual conformity.

    2. Having a ” designer grille” compared to an air intake is two entirely different things. The Leaf is grille less but has a lower slot at bumper level as does the i3 and the Tesla, all designed for purpose and not show or status.
      Air intakes for climate control should be in a low pressure area not at the front where speed variations produce temperature fluctuations. Having owned three electrics I’m well aware of cooling requirements and some of the different systems in use. The Leaf is air cooled and only requires the aforementioned slot while the i3 and Tesla are not air cooled.
      I guess as long as some are only interested in badge status the makers will happily satisfy that urge even if for practical reasons the grill is redundant in Evs. Looking back at the intro of the DS one wonders about prospective buyers bemoaning the loss of the Traction radiator grille which traditionally had been around since the dawn of motoring in one form or another and was truly the identifying factor of each manufacturer.

  7. Don’t even supposedly grille-less EVs still require cooling air for the air-conditioning? My Boxster has two of these grilles, behind each of which are a radiator and air-con condenser:

    There is one advantage to a traditional grille, even if it is non-functional: it reduces the area of painted bodywork vulnerable to stone chips on our terrible roads!

    1. I just received this from Kris at Geneva, who put the question to Jaguar’s Julian Thomson, and I quote; “He said they used it [the grille] to guide the airflow, and that EV’s cooling requirements aren’t as different as claimed by some.”

      Anyway, in addition to airflow, an electric car still has quite a lot of cooling requirements. Brakes. The batteries themselves are rather temperature sensitive. Then there’s ventilation and air con. For starters…

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