A recent headline in Road and Track caught our eye: “The I-PACE is the Most Compelling Jaguar Since the E-TYPE.” Those could be fighting words to some, but writer Chris Perkins backs his thesis with some solid research, and puts the forthcoming new Jaguar crossover — which arrives soon at Jaguar Peabody — in a new light.
First, some background. The Jaguar E-TYPE debuted in 1961 and was in production for twelve years. It was, without question, a thing of beauty. One sits in the Museum of Modern Art as we speak, only the third car so honored. Even the competition looked on in awe, with Enzo Ferrari reportedly calling it the most beautiful car he’d ever seen.
But as with other legendary Jaguar cars, the Jaguar E-TYPE didn’t succeed merely because it was gorgeous. While the Jaguar I-PACE shares some of a design language that truly starts with that legendary sports car, there’s another similarity that unites both vehicles, even though they’re generations apart.
That beauty, it turns out, is almost entirely practical, and comes down to one primary consideration: aerodynamics. As Perkins notes, designer Malcolm Sayer wasn’t an esthete. He was an engineer first and foremost, and the car that built his reputation looked as beautiful as it did not because of fashion, but because — years before wind tunnels and computer modeling were de rigueur — Sayer was after a design that would hug the road and shrug off the wind.
A similarly practical approach shaped the look of the Jaguar I-PACE; not only is weight shed in every way possible, but it also has a profile that makes for an incredibly slippery drag coefficient. That’s been important on past and new Jaguar models, but never quite this important. After all, as the first all-electric Jaguar vehicle, the stakes are high for performance, battery life, and the thrill you only get behind the wheel of a classic in the making.
If you’d like to own a piece of automotive history, your time is coming — just like the Jaguar I-PACE is coming to 247 Newbury St., home of Jaguar Peabody.