The Purr of the Electric Cat. The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV 400 AWD

 

 

Jaguar's Race Director James S Barkley

After attending an introduction event for Jaguar’s EV Racing in New York City, last year, I have looked forward to the opportunity to spend time and experience life in a luxury EV. This summer, a Photon Red First Edition Jaguar I-Pace showed up in my driveway.

IMG_3022While the world is focused on SUV’s even as they pertain to electric-powered vehicles, Jaguar has nicely put together a sleek hatchback, that is a luxury sedan, sports sedan, EV and with the full-size hatch, all-wheel-drive SUV. And the adjustable suspension helps on or off road.

 

Design

IMG_2570Ian Callum accepts 2019 World Car Award for Jaguar I Pace
IMG_2570Ian Callum accepts 2019 World Car Award for Jaguar I Pace

First and foremost, it is a Jaguar. You can tell  Ian Callum kept with the brand’s design language using angles to replace the curves of the Jags of my youth. More a 1980’s than 1960’s look, while still quite current. Aerodynamics is the name of the game when trying to stretch every electron into a mile, and with this I-Pace, you have a 230-mile range on a charge. And selling it as a luxury SUV, and sports-sedan in one. This one has all-wheel drive and an adjustable suspension that you can raise and lower the vehicle for off-road travel if needed.

 

Under the Hood

IMG_3048While you will not find anything under the hood, or as it is known the “frunk” or boot, which is the proper British terminology, other than small cargo space. It is almost not worth opening.

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Where is all the power coming from, you ask?  Well, two electric motors that produce 394 horsepower and 512-ft of torque are fore and aft with a 90-k Wh battery pack that is mounted low and provides a 76 MPGe combined.  Actually, the only way to see anything close to the powerplant would be to put it on a lift and take it apart. So for us, we never got to see anything but what the promotional material shows. Single-speed transmission with simple push-button controls and separate buttons for mode settings give you all the control you need in this EV.

 

Electric Plug-In?

20190716_073528Should I have range anxiety? Well, range anxiety is a part of the current EV driving experience, so it comes with the territory.  It did not take us long to figure out how to cure that and enjoy the drive in this iconic brand’s EV 400. We found both pay to charge, and free-to-charge locations via the Plugshare and ChargePoint apps. Which provided fast chare options while we were out, though often not in places we were initially going, or maybe wanted to go.  As well as plugging into our 110v home outlet for a trickle charge, of about a mile an hour.

 

How do you start an EV

Jaguar's Activity Key – allows you to wear a key to the vehicle and not carry one with you.
Jaguar’s Activity Key – allows you to wear a key to the vehicle and not carry one with you.

Like with most modern cars the RFID keyfob has replaced the switchblade or knife blade key, and Jaguar feels its owners will be active and may want to wear their key like a fitness tracker, so they provide an activity key, a black band you wear on your wrist that can get wet if you go kayaking or sailing, or surfing.

 

Door handles are recessed into the Jaguar I Pace until activated
Door handles are recessed into the Jaguar I Pace until activated.

 

Aerodynamics or Tesla design copy? How do you get the door handles to pop out?  Having the key in your pocket and activating the door handle by touching it, front or back, or hitting the traditional keyfob unlock button makes the door handles appear from the side slab of the I-Pace.

 

 

 

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An important part is even if the I-Pace doors are unlocked, the charging plug is still locked onto the charging port, and you have to unlock the car again (even if it is unlocked) to release the plug.

 

Cargo

IMG_3063While the frunk is small, not to worry the conventional rear hatch has plenty of room with the 3rd-row seats up or down, if you are carrying anything, and the four-doors open wide to give you easy entry and exit to the vehicle for all the passengers. Two bucket seats up front and a sizeable split-bench seat in the rear. And as the I-Pace is a wide car, there is plenty of room in that rear seat for three people.

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Open the hatch, and you can load large items, put down those rear seatbacks and the long flat cargo floor is easy to load in and out of.

 

Price – EV’s are not cheap

IMG_3059First of all, EV’s tend to be thought of as the play toys of the Rich, or those that want to be seen as financially successful. Tesla owners feel they have the sole ownership of the upscale EV space. So when Jaguar quietly stepped in without fanfare and put the I-Pace on the scene, we knew the price tag would be comparable.

20190716_072959Starting at just under $70K for a base Jaguar I-Pace, but really whoever buys a base car?  While there are a few who are looking for basic transportation, and the Nissan Leaf’s and Kia Niro EV’s may work well there. When you get to the level of luxury that Jaguar represents you want to add bells and whistles to your whip. Our I-Pace, the First Edition, 400 AWD I-Pace stickered out at just under $80K.

Now EV enthusiasts will tell you all about the tax incentives and all, but still, you have to buy something before you get a tax break for the purchase. Well, there is the free charging, when and where you can find it.

 

Charging Infrastructure

2019 Jaguar I Pace at a ChargePoint ChargerAs they say, nothing is free in this world. You get what you pay for!  And indeed when it comes to EV Chargers, I would agree about that.  While Tesla owners rave about their own (and totally proprietary, chargers. So don’t even think about plugging in there if you are not driving a Freemont Cali built the car. Charging stations are located all over the country, which is a beautiful thing indeed. Many are at commercial centers, though some gas station | convenience stores are adding them, most EV owners have to rely on public charging stations.  Finding them through Plug Share, Electrify America, and Charge Point, as well as other app-based programs,  are expanding. We discovered that Charge Point seems to have a better handle on their chargers, and they tend to be better-maintained infrastructure.  We found that newly constructed parking garages with EV charging as part of the design are better than those that are retrofitted. If for no other reason than the number of chargers.

IMG_3047Charging at home, if you have installed a 240 V dedicated EV Charger, you will do better than using the supplied charging plugged into a 110v grounded home outlet. The added cost to your home electric bill will help you decide if an EV is right for you.

 

Aud Etron with Electrify America ChargerCharging at your place of work, if you are lucky enough to be located in a location that provides charging for EV’s all the better. I have seen solar-powered chargers as well as banks of chargers in office building garages.

 

 

Promotion and Racing

Jaguar Race to InovateWhere does this E-Grand Prix racing come into play?  For Jaguar, racing is such a part of their heritage; it makes total sense that they are early participants in the sport of racing EVs. Jaguar and racing are like Milk and Ice Cream, they are even better together.  Racing has always been a proving ground for automotive engineering, as it is some of the best testing that any vehicle can go through.

 

Awards and Accolades

Jaguar wins 2019 Word Car Award Ian Callum AcceptingIn 2019 Jaguar I-Pace wins World Car of the Year Awards presented at the New York International Auto Show, and we were there (at the next table when the awards were presented.)  And justly so, Jaguar has brought forth a great product in the early days of modern electric vehicles.

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Words and images by William West Hopper.

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Mr. Hopper is a lifelong auto enthusiast. As a member, he currently serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association WAPA and is also a member of The International Automotive Press Association IMPA.

All opinions are his own. Mr. Hopper received no compensation from producing this post. He was given a week with the Jaguar I-Pace that arrived with a 60% charge, and he returned it with a 100% charge.

 

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Tough and Solid as a Subaru – Just a Geeky Middle Kid – The Crosstrek

Check out our YouTube Video of this Subaru Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV at the Washington DC Auto ShowSubaru has a long history of being a go-anywhere, tough roadworthy car brand. From the early days as DL and GL and before, well maybe not as far back as the tiny 360.  Today, Subaru has any number of choices from sleek sports cars to full-size SUV’s, a Sedan and a choice of  Station Wagons.  All with symmetrical all-wheel drive, which along with their boxer engine are Subaru staples.

 

Subaru CrossTrek PHEV Plugin Hybrid
Subaru CrossTrek PHEV Plugin Hybrid

Then there is that middle child, the Crosstrek. An SUV is a smaller size with plenty of what most people want in an all capable vehicle, large enough on the inside for most uses, in a small footprint.   And this middle kid can get even geekier in the Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) which we had the opportunity to experience for a week driving around for a weekend on the streets of Washington DC.

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Plugged IN

While the PHEV Crosstrek is more hybrid than EV (Electric Vehicle,) it still provides an intro to the EV lifestyle. Without the range anxiety that a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) may give you.  In my use, it provided 15 miles all-electric on a 110v overnight battery charge from my garage outlet.  After the battery was depleted it seamlessly transitioned into gasoline-powered hybrid mode.  What I liked most is that you had your choice of EV or hybrid mode at the push of a button.  Allowing it to be operated in all EV mode or go hybrid, with the gasoline engine engaged. Personally, I like to save the EV driving for someplace special such as in a park or other peaceful place.

Subaru is known for UTILITY

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Battery under the rear cargo floor
Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Battery under the rear cargo floor

And the Crosstrek is utilitarian, while still being well turned out, tech-forward, and comfortable. Don’t expect plush in any Subaru. Though the Crosstrek has a lot of nice touches like the use of quality materials and the overall interior design. And being a PHEV, there are lots of iridescent blue highlights on the inside, letting you know this is not just any powertrain you are piloting.

Subaru CrossTrek Interior
Subaru CrossTrek Interior with blue accents and stylish seating.

Anything with four-doors and a hatch is all about utility. The Crosstrek carries the battery under the rear cargo area, elevates the hatch floor about four inches from where it would be in a non-PHEV version.  The downside here is that the second-row seatbacks are at a lower point than the hatch floor. Not one long uniform cargo floor when the 2nd-row seats are folded down. The battery takes up space, so if you had a tall box, you could

Subaru Crosstrek loaded with pet supplies
Subaru Crosstrek loaded with pet supplies

have some problem fitting it in the cargo area.  For our use, the higher floor did not impede loading the cargo area. Though we can see it could be taking up valuable space when you really needed those extra inches.  With doors that swing open wide access for loading items through the rear doors is easy.

 

 

 

Driveability

Subaru Crosstrek with items in the cargo area
Subaru Crosstrek with items in the cargo area the rear seats fold down lower than the cargo floor.

When colleagues drove this car, they complained about the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), it did not bother me in the least bit. While in the old days a CVT may have been an issue, being whiny and not very responsive, today Subaru has made it pretty seamless in operation. The Crosstrek had plenty of power in both PHEV and hybrid mode, enough power to propel it down the road and up hills.

Subaru Crosstrek rear seat
Subaru Crosstrek rear seat

Driver and passenger room are plentiful. In our tester, the seats are leather-trimmed in contemporary design and exciting hues. The use of leather may not be what a buyer of a “green vehicle” would choose. Though for pet owners, as Subaru owners tend to be, it tends to be the right choice as other seat coverings can get damaged with claws and nails, as well as troublesome to clean.

Subaru Crosstrek Cockpit
Subaru Crosstrek Cockpit

Crostrek’s interior design is functional and well-tailored. Buttons are where they need to be, and the three screens, the center, the top center, and dash provide plenty of information. The top center screen offers a visual of the hybrid functionality and is an extension of the actual dash screen. While the other screens provide the necessary information that you expect from them.

 

What’s Not To Love

Subaru Crosstrek PlugIn Port
Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Port

Subaru has a marketing campaign based on Love, so finding things that go against that is not too easy. First of all, the Crosstrek is not plush, while not spartan, it is all Subaru, simple, and to the point. The Crosstrek at times rides like a truck and in our unit, with 9K miles on the odometer, it was a bit noisy, though we expect that noise is a part of the Crosstreck’s character. And yes, the hybrid engine function sometimes sounds like a wood chipper hard at

Subaru Crosstrek dash switches
Subaru Crosstrek dash switches

work.  If you are expecting a more turned out experience the Outback or Legacy or even Forester might be a better choice. Though those models do not come in a battery-powered version. Though we expect they will in the future, as everyone really likes the higher fuel mileage hybrids offer.  Like any Subie, you will get the same experience if you are seated in the front or the rear. This brand creates a complete cabin experience, and not just a nice space up front for the driver, forgetting anyone else is going to ride in the vehicle.

 

Is this EV Drive A FAD?

Subaru Crosstreck PHEV Plugged in at home to a 110v outlet
Subaru Crosstreck PHEV Plugged in at home to a 110v outlet

While the Crosstrek is the only hybrid or EV variant available in the US from Subaru, we doubt that it will be the only one for very long.  EV powertrains are quickly evolving, and the Crosstrek PHEV is an excellent step in the direction.  Especially for those who want to tread lightly on our planet and not burn gasoline to do so. Electric Vehicles can be earth-friendly when not using fossil fuels to produce electrons.  With the ever-growing wind and solar power, it can be a great option for charging. We agree that battery production is hardly earth-friendly.

Subaru Crosstrek Pluged In at a public charger
Subaru Crosstrek Plugged In at a public charger

If you rely on EV Charging stations alone, and not have the hybrid backup, there is that concern of range anxiety. Worrying about where will the next plugin will be, and will it be operational. With the hybrid, you can pretty much find a gasoline station throughout the land.  Having the best of both worlds does give EV ownership a better feel.

 

Why you should buy a Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV engine
Subaru Crosstrek PHEV engine

EV side, this is a significant step for those looking to upgrade from a smaller hybrid econobox. As this is asymmetrical (which is Subaru’s term) all-wheel drive. If you are looking for a vehicle that is surefooted, rugged, and spacious, this is a good option.

Subaru owners love their cars and return to buy them time and time again.  After passing down their high mileage cars to a friend or family members, or doing a properly reviewed adoption to someone who is also a fan of the brand.  That kind of long-term owner commitment is something that means something.  Ask any Subaru owner, and they will tell you how they will always own a Subaru.

Subaru Crosstrek Engine Oil Filter
Subaru Crosstrek has a gasoline engine which means an oil filter

If you want more room but less attention to detail on the interior check out our review of the Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander.

We thank Subaru and NAV’s for the opportunity to spend a week in this vehicle. Neither provided any compensation other than the loan of the vehicle and the first tank of fuel.

 

Words an images by William West Hopper (unless otherwise noted)

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Wiliam West Hopper is a life-long automotive enthusiast who thinks of cars as both an extensions of one’s personality as well as a utilitarian device.  Mr. Hopper has served as local, regional and national leader of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, and currently serves as President of the Washington Automotive Press Association, a professional automotive media organization based in Washington DC. Mr. Hopper also writes on travel as well as interior design. And is known for an eye for a great consignment or thrift shop, thus authoring a no out of print guide to Washington DC area second-hand stores.

The Italian Job – A 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia

 

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on this Amazing Car

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia at the Nebraska Wyoming Border

On a recent trip to Colorado, land of Ram pickups and Jeeps, I had the opportunity to take an Alfa Romeo Giulia for the week-long romp in cowboy country.  Quickly finding out that this little sports sedan was more of a conversation starter than I would have imagined, especially where pickups and 4X4’s roam.

Young and old, male and female, all had an eye for this gorgeous Italian four-door, wanting to know more. A gas station cashier came out of his kiosk and started talking to me about how this car changed everything for the brand. A man and woman stood by holding an intense discussion about it in a

Alfa Romeo Giulia at Lafayette CO Cars and Coffee Aug 2019
Alfa Romeo Giulia at Lafayette CO Cars and Coffee Aug 2019

supermarket parking lot. Upon arrival to a Colorado Cars and Coffee, we were one of three Alfas. An Alfa owner who brought something else, came over and shared the one time he did not show is Giulia, two others would show up. 

 

 

Driving Experience

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia at the Lady of Peace Shrine in Pine Bluffs WY
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia at the Lady of Peace Shrine in Pine Bluffs WY

Driving this car fast is what the Giulia wants to do,  and wide-open western interstates were the perfect place to put the pedal to the metal. Comfortably sprinting along the ribbons of high plains pavement, and nimbly carving through mountain passes proved how well balanced and sure-footed the $2500 all-wheel-drive optioned Giulia TI Sport is. While the 2-liter direct-injection turbo engine could be noisy at times, it made excellent use of the 280 horsepower output and provided the upper 20’s in miles per gallon.  Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with the Alfa DNA Drive Mode System it had no problem with three people and luggage aboard.

Trunk space in the Alfa Romeo Guilia is tight
Trunk space in the Alfa Romeo Guilia is tight

While it is not a big car, it does seats four.  In our case 3 comfortably for a two-hour road trip. Fully occupied, might be a bit cramped in the passenger compartment and trunk space is tight, so overnight bags and not suitcases are the way to go. Egress in the rear was a bit tight, especially for senior travelers, who had to twist a bit to get in and out of the back and sometimes the front passenger seats.

 

The Cockpit

Alfa Romeo Giulia dash and column-mounted shift levers for the 8-speed automatic transmission.
Alfa Romeo Giulia dash and column-mounted shift levers for the 8-speed automatic transmission.

This car is focused on the driver. Don’t get me wrong, the passengers’ are finely cared for as well in leather six-way adjustable heated leather seats. Piloting this gorgeous sedan is foremost in the mind of Alfa’s designers with a comfortable driving position and view of the road access to the controls and gauges. The flat-bottom steering wheel with column-mounted shift levers for the 8-speed automatic give you a racecar feel. Though do it with your loves off, as it is tight clearance, which is no problem in cold weather, as the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated.

Alfa Romeo Giulia at an Outpost in Pine Bluffs Wyoming
Alfa Romeo Giulia at an Outpost in Pine Bluffs Wyoming

Our test vehicle had striking Red Sport Seats. That and the contrasting black interior trim with aluminum trim ambient lighting and the TI Package added bright aluminum trimmed pedals for that sporty look. As part of the $2500 Ti package, you get sport leather seats with power-adjustable bolsters and manually adjustable thigh support, in addition to the standard heated driver and front passenger power 6-way adjustable seats with 4-way lumbar support.  It was hard for my senior passengers as the seat bolsters hold you firmly during spirited driving, but make slipping in and out a challenge. That combined with the tighter door opening may be an issue for those who people who may not have physical flexibility.

 

My Thoughts

Alfa Romeo Giulia and Vintage Porsche at Cars and Coffee in Lafayette CO August 2019
Alfa Romeo Giulia and Vintage Porsche at Cars and Coffee in Lafayette CO

This car is stunning to look at and lots of fun to drive. Interior is nicely detailed with all you need in a drivers car.  Having the remote start is nice as long as the fuel level is above a quarter of a tank. The $1500 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package with forwarding Collision Warning plus, lane departure, adaptive cruise control with stop, and automatic high-beam Bi-Xenon headlamp

Alfa Romeo Giulia with 19 Inch Wheels and Brembo Brake Calipers
Alfa Romeo Giulia with optional 19 Inch Wheels and Brembo Brake Calipers

control was a nice feature. And the added safety of the $650 Driver Assistance Static Package with blindspot and cross-path detection is quite useful in today’s busy world.  And as always LED lighting all around and 4-wheel disc brakes with the $500 optional red-painted front Brembo® calipers with gloss script were a delight to look at through the Bright 5-whole Aluminum Wheels.

Alfa Romeo Giulia at Tru Hotel in Cheyenne Wyoming

Some spots seem to be overlooked like the leather wrapping appears to miss a spot at the bottom of the steering wheel. Sort of that hole you don’t see but feel around for once you know, it is there. The limited USB ports one in the lower center dash and two inside the console, along with a 12V outlet, and surprisingly none in the rear seat area. This led us to think that some of the tech maybe a few generations older than what you might find on the competition,  it is still great to have onboard.

I am not a big fan of modern screens, and the Giulia’s were the least offensive of the cars I have driven recently. Though saying that, I was happy with the limited number of screens to scroll through on the driver’s display. I thought having a G-Force screen was odd. If you were watching it, you could not be paying attention to the driving, which would result in making the red dot move out of the center position.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Center Console

The center controls took time to get used to, as did the stalk-style electronic gear selector with a button to push for Park which also engaged the electric parking brake.  I did like to have the parking brake applied but had to remember to release it each time.  As well as remembering to push the gear stalk forward for Reverse and pull back for Drive.

This test vehicle had 12K on the odometer, and with that mileage, it is an excellent way to experience what the vehicle will be like after the honeymoon is over. This one had held up well, especially for a brand that does not always get the highest confidence level in that area.  There were some hiccups like rough starts, though that could have been the summer heat or quality of fuel. The AC was hard to find a comfortable temp, and the HVAC fan was noisy at any position but the lowest one. There was road noise from the 19-inch Pirelli run-flat tires and was a tad surprised to hear wind noise coming from the upper door, neither were disturbing but noticeable. There is no spare (hence the run-flats), but there is an air pump secured in the base of the trunk. Me, I like to have a spare, so I would want to have one. Since the car does not have staggered wheels, and these wheels are so pretty, it would be a beautiful garage decor item to have. Just in case, but not enough trunk space to carry it with you and any luggage.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Center Console
Alfa Romeo Giulia Center Console

In total, this 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Sport AWD 4-door sedan in Vesuvio gray metallic paint (a $600 option) stickered out at $51,885 including the $1,295 destination charge.  This car is assembled in Cassino Italy an Italian-built engine, and German-made transmission comes with a 4-year / 50K mile powertrain and basic warranty along with roadside assistance.

 

Would I buy this car?

Absolutely it was a lot of fun to drive and it is simply gorgeous to look at.

 

Thanks To FCA, Alfa and Rocky Mountain Redline

Alfa Romeo Giulia Fuel Filler
Alfa Romeo Giulia Fuel Filler

For allowing us a week in this fantastic Alfa Romeo 2018 Guilia for a week, covering the first tank of fuel and ExpressToll fees.  We were not compensated for this review.

 

 

 

Words and images by William West Hopper. (Unless otherwise noted)

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Mr. Hopper is a life long auto enthusiast. He is a member and currently serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association WAPA and is a member of The International Automotive Press Association IMPA.  All opinions are his own.