How to hoon a Jaguar I-Pace around the Nürburgring

18th March 2020
Dan Trent

Electric power has been successfully sold as the environmentally ‘woke’ alternative to internal combustion but, when it comes down to it, whatever the means of propulsion we still want the same things from our cars. Which is why, even in the ultimate petrolhead arena of the Nürburgring, performance EVs are making a splash.


It’s here Tesla has met its first real test. Case in point – Ludicrous Mode acceleration is a fun gimmick for owners but lap times are a different game, especially when you’re up against Porsche and its new Taycan. Jaguar has been watching the soap opera unfold and taken the opportunity to add the I-Pace to its fleet of ‘race taxis’ off the back of it. A noisy passenger ride round the Nordschleife in a V8-powered F-Type SVR or Project 8 is one to remember. But silent ones in an all-electric I-Pace have proven a hit, to the extent Jaguar has retired its stripped and caged XJR 575 race limo to free up more track time. With some surprising results.


“In the F-Type or Project 8 I’ll get three laps before I need to refuel,” says race taxi driver Dale Lomas, the V8s slurping as much as 20 litres of super unleaded every lap. “Environmental conditions make a big difference but I can easily do four laps to a charge, meaning 16 passenger laps in a day and more than we ever did with the XJR.” And he gets a faster turnaround, a half-hour charge at the adjacent Jaguar test centre enough for another four laps and more time-efficient than queuing at the nearby filling station with all the other petrolheads.

It gets better too. In the I-Pace every downhill gradient or braking zone is an opportunity to put energy back into the battery. And on a hilly, twisty circuit like the Nürburgring there are plenty of both. By running the I-Pace in the higher of its two regeneration modes Dale can actually claw back as much as a quarter of the energy he uses on each lap, equivalent to someone pouring five litres of petrol back into the tank of the V8-powered cars on the same and, for every three turns round, enough to charge the battery for a ‘free’ fourth one. So how does he do it?


“I brake a little earlier and a little lighter,” explains Dale. “The first squishy bit of the brake pedal is electric re-gen control and I hold it there. We’re still braking at something like 0.7-0.8g, which is more than most people do on the road. And if I come off the throttle for extra 50 metres per braking zone it’s the difference between regenerating 3kWh and 7kWh, which buys me that extra lap. To me, it’s all part of the game of enjoying an EV.”

Passengers range from electric car fans travelling specially for the experience to sceptical petrolheads curious to see what the fuss is about. All are impressed. “The I-Pace handles the circuit really, really well,” he grins. “Customers just don’t know what to think. You’re doing 120mph in utter silence and whipping past 300bhp internal combustion cars like they’ve missed a gear. It’s a very strange sensation and I get to share the sense of awe I felt the first time I drove an electric car at the Nordschleife. It’s really fun!”


Practically speaking he’s had to learn to drive a lap without the punctuation of gearshifts, revs and other seat-of-the-pants sensation you’d usually use for a sense of speed. Where he’d never usually have looked at the speedo he now relies on the projected Head Up Display to monitor cornering speeds. “For instance, we’re doing 163km/h and I know the next corner is 155km/h tops in these conditions so I can adjust my speed accordingly,” he says.

And the silence opens up new opportunities too. “I can brake to the point where the tyres are saying no and I can hold it there because I can hear everything,” he says. It also means he can find the grip on a cold or wet day, the different sounds from the tyres letting him know where he can push and where he needs to hold back.


For people who worry electric cars will never be as exciting as internal combustion ones this is all great news, Dale’s experience of driving the I-Pace as quickly – or quicker – than conventional cars just as challenging as anything he’s ever done before. Just in new ways. By applying yourself and driving tactically it also proves you can enjoy the performance of an EV to the full and even be more efficient in the process. Which has to be the ultimate win-win.

  • Jaguar

  • I-Pace

  • Nurburgring

  • EV

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