The headline of this issue – the pinnacle of motoring – isn’t there simply to sell more copies. It’s there because it’s true!
Let’s start with the Jag. This is the first EV from the Indian-owned British automaker, and they appear to have hit the nail on the head. Not only is the I-Pace very pretty indeed – which is fitting, since it’s a Jaguar – but it’s a no-compromise machine as well. Moreover, while the big German manufacturers continue to showcase EVs in concept form, Jaguar has beaten them to the punch and launched a roadworthy and very legitimate Tesla competitor.
Tesla, meanwhile, is learning the hard way that the road to being a full-fledged automaker is fraught with challenge – in some cases seemingly insurmountable. What makes Jaguar’s achievement even more impressive are the problems faced by its more mainstream competitors on this rocky road to an EV future. BMW has been running its i-program for far longer than Jaguar has even considered developing an electric car, and yet when we drove the refreshed i3 (BMW’s EV city runabout) recently, there were still some kinks that needed to be worked out. Well, Jaguar appears to have done just that.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Ferrari is – but, of course – the pinnacle of motoring. That goes without saying, doesn’t it? Well, the first-gen California of a few years ago was decidedly underwhelming – so perhaps it doesn’t. Their latest model, however – the 488 Pista that’s front and centre on the cover – is, in my opinion, hand-on-heart, truly the pinnacle of motoring as we know it. What a machine! I’ve been fortunate, over the years, to sample some pretty special production cars (the McLaren 675LT from a couple of years ago was thus far at the top of that list, while some others include the Lamborghini Huracan & Aventador, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Mercedes AMG GT, Audi R8 V10 Plus, Aston Martin Vanquish, Nissan GT-R, and a couple of Ferraris), but there’s always something that you find – no matter how small – that could have been done just that little bit better. But that simply isn’t the case with the Pista. Absolutely everything – the motor, transmission, steering, brakes and chassis – has been engineered to perfection. And this could well be the pinnacle of the motor car as we know it, period, because very soon all supercars will be hybrids – and, therefore, handicapped with cumbersome battery packs and electric motors. Sure, efficiency will go up – and that’s important – but the purity of the experience will be compromised.
Now, the geniuses at Ferrari have figured out how to make a turbocharged motor feel like a naturally aspirated one, so I have no doubt that they’ll wield their magic and somehow make these battery packs and additional motors virtually disappear. However, I can’t help but feel that cars like the 488 Pista do – and will continue to – represent the epitome of the motor car as we’ve known it from the better part of the twentieth century onwards.
Plus, it’s quite pivotal that we can feature two cars that represent the pinnacle in their own way. The I-Pace stands at the top of the EV mountain for now, and the Ferrari is the best car I’ve ever driven – setting aside a very soft spot for a 1953 Jaguar C-Type (of Le Mans fame) that I was lucky enough to drive several years ago. After all, for me at least, the whine of an EV will always struggle to match the spine-tingling roar of spent gases being forced out from the exhaust of a thoroughbred motorcar. But that’s just me...