A common gimmick automakers use to sell cars is to offer a special edition. Without making a major change to the vehicle, like an improved motor, transmission, or suspension, they make some minor visual changes to renew interest in a vehicle and get people in the door. Nissan offers “Midnight” packages, where a black vehicle gets more black trim to give it the “blackout” look.
I’ve even seen auto dealers get in on the game, with one in Arizona offering a “Southwest Edition” of Chevrolet trucks and SUVs. The big upgrade? Darker window tint, some pinstriping, and vinyl decals that say “Southwest Edition” next to a cartoon Saguaro cactus.
The EV world hasn’t really seen a lot of this yet, though. Tesla’s different trim levels tend to offer different battery sizes, and the performance model has, well, more performance. Even Nissan didn’t sell a LEAF Plus without putting in a bigger battery and a more powerful motor. Sooner or later, though, someone was bound to try this, and the first I’ve seen of this is the new Jaguar I-PACE Black.
What You Get With The Package
It’s not that different from what Nissan does with its “Midnight” editions of vehicles. Like Chancellor Palpatine, it wants to see if customers will embrace the dark side (but without all the evil, of course).
“The I-PACE’s dramatic, cab-forward profile, short overhangs and taut, muscular haunches give it a sense of drama which sets it apart from other SUVs.” said Julian Thomson, Jaguar Design Director. “Creating the exclusive I-PACE Black gave us the opportunity to subtly enhance the design, making it look even more dynamic, distinctive and desirable.”
But did you know what comes with it? I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. It’s practically a Sith legend.
First, they add the “Black Pack,” which gives you Gloss Black finish applied to the door mirror caps as well as the grille, grille surround, side window surrounds, and rear badges. This gives the whole vehicle a darker look.
To show its full commitment to the dark side, Jaguar also offers a full panoramic roof, privacy glass, and 20-inch wheels with Gloss Black finish to make the vehicle even darker. The end result is a vehicle that embraces the dark side as much as an EV can while it helps save the earth.
Finally, Jaguar gives you ebony leather sports seats, Gloss Black trim finishers, and an Ebony headliner. The inside of the I-PACE Black is just as dark as the outside.
The end result? A vehicle that’s as black as the vehicle could be without doing something crazy like paint it with Vantablack the way BMW did with one of its vehicles. While the press photos Jag-you-are provided show a silver car, you’re a Sith apprenticeship dropout if you order it in anything but black, because that’s kind of the point. But then again, one could order it in white to contrast with all that black and bring balance to the force.
I suppose it’s up to you whether you want to fully embrace the dark side or be the Chosen One.
What Doesn’t Change
The press release goes on to detail the whole vehicle, but I couldn’t find any other differences between the I-PACE Black and the other ones. Drivetrain is the same, interior (other than color) is the same. Mechanically, the biggest difference is probably the larger sunroof.
That doesn’t make the I-PACE Black a bad vehicle, though. 250 miles of range can get you to most of the United States, Europe, and some Asian countries if it’s set up for local charging standards. Power isn’t Tesla Plaid level, but it’s better than my LEAF by quite a bit. If it feels good for you to drive, then it’s a great option!
My Take On This
While I know some people will really enjoy things like the I-PACE Black, just like people enjoy the Nissan Midnights and other blackout cars, I feel like manufacturers are taking a lot of gullible people for a ride.
Even in the gas car world, it used to be that special packages were better under the hood and had an appearance package to go with them. If you saw a special vehicle out on the road, you know it’s at least got some extra rats under the hood turning wheels, or a little more Flubber in its pot. Over the decades as the average driver became less and less knowledgeable about cars, we now see many manufacturers offering appearance packages that don’t have anything special going on under the hood.
But then again, people who don’t know anything about what a special edition of a vehicle should be will probably enjoy their appearance package a lot. If the company is making a different version of a product, the customers are liking it, and money is changing hands, there’s still some good to be said for that.
It’s hard work to get even these appearance-package-only special edition cars put together. It’s hard work to get the tooling and personnel at the factory changed for the limited runs that are different (and to put it back). After that, tons of work goes into marketing the new version of the car out to those who would want it.
Then, the people who really want it aren’t idiots. They’re just not into the “good old days” I’m reminiscing of. While I think they are only letting manufacturers sell them an appearance-only special edition because they don’t know better enough to demand more, things change and that might be all these customers really want. If they wouldn’t know what other differences even mean, and wouldn’t drive the vehicle hard enough to even feel the difference, then it would be a waste of money to sell them a more powerful or better handling version.
I get all this, but wish the manufacturers themselves would put some more performance versions of their vehicles out that have a unique look. The blackout version should at least have a few extra kilowatts of power, some upgraded suspension components, or even something gimmicky like a “stealth mode” where you can disable the warning sounds, or make different sounds compared to the normal car. Appearance is important, but it isn’t everything.
Style needs at least some small piece of substance to back it.
Featured image provided by Jaguar.