Opinion : Car of the Decade 2010s

Jaguar I-Pace

The beginning of a new decade is a great opportunity to pause, reflect and consider. And so it proves the perfect opportunity to review what an amazing, tumultuous and fertile period it’s been for the British car industry. As the 2010s begun, we were awaiting the reboot of MG, keeping our fingers crossed for Jaguar Land Rover and applauding MINI for bringing a dose of Cool Britannia to the premium small car sector (by largely creating it).

Ten years on, and the automotive landscape has changed almost beyond all recognition. We’re still waiting for MG’s second coming, Jaguar Land Rover was saved by the brilliantly-timed and judged Range Rover Evoque, while MINI seemed to lose its design direction thanks to the heavy-handed styling of the F56-generation model. Of the three mentioned here, Jaguar Land Rover is the shining star – and has been through a decade that has truly seen it all.

But let’s cut to the chase here – the Jaguar I-Pace is our stand-out Car of the Decade, not just for AROnline, but for the British motor industry as a whole. Okay, it could be argued that it’s difficult justifying a car – and a costly one at that – launched in 2017, and built in Austria, to represent the entire decade. However, such is the pace of change, and the rapid move towards electrification, this is the correct decision – not just for now, but going forward into the 2020s.

Jaguar I-Pace: sticking it to the opposition

So, why the I-Pace? Well, bear in mind that Jaguar Land Rover has been through one hell of a decade, needing to develop an all-new family of engines and a factory to build them, introduce new platforms, models and enter market sectors that had been dominated by the Germans for years. It needed volume through growth, and needed it quickly. It expanded overseas with new assembly and production operations, and maintained an enviable premium image that shines as strongly now as it has ever done.

And you know what? Jaguar Land Rover managed to succeed in delivering all it set out to. It wasn’t without hiccoughs, though. Quality and reliability took a dive, and there were numerous issues with the Ingenium engine that would take time to sort, while testing the patience of its hard-won customer base. The Jaguar XE and XF haven’t exactly flown out of the showrooms, either, although the E- and F-Pace seem to be doing the numbers now. And in the wake of Volkswagen’s (and the industry’s) Dieselgate crisis, the company’s over-reliance on diesel really started to hurt in the late 2010s.

Still, with all that going on, Jaguar managed to unveil the I-Pace in 2017 before going on general sale the following year. Although it lagged behind the pace-setting Tesla Model S and X in terms of tech and range, and lacked their bespoke (and wonderful) charging network, the I-Pace’s great styling, interesting (and well-finished) interior and fabulous dynamics made it a great advert for Jaguar Land Rover’s eventual march towards electrification. And in getting the car out when it did, it beat Audi and Mercedes-Benz to the SUV-shaped EV party by more than a year. A good news story indeed.

Jaguar I-Pace interior: Car of The Decade 2010s

Will the I-Pace be a winner?

That’s the million dollar question. Well, we know that sales of EVs are only going one way right now. In the UK, 60,000 were sold in 2018, which should balloon to 80,000 in 2019 before exploding towards 120,000 in 2020. There’s political, fiscal and cultural pressure for an increasing number of buyers to head down the EV route and, with manufacturers like Jaguar offering appealing cars with a 200 mile plus battery range, more are bound to take the plunge – not just the early adopters. The I-Pace is well placed to benefit.

Jaguar Land Rover did extremely well to get the I-Pace on to market when it did, and for it to be such an excellent product. However, it needs to follow up with more EVs – and quickly – in order not to be left behind by the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, all of whom are promising waves of new EVs by 2025. We should see the electric Jaguar XJ quite soon, but what we need are the volume sellers to meet the challenge posed by the brilliant Tesla Model 3 and the upcoming Volkswagen ID.3. That will make the 2020s just as challenging as the 2010s for Jaguar Land Rover.

So, if Jaguar Land Rover transforms itself in the coming decade, we’ll look back on the I-Pace as the true gamechanger that kicked it all off. As it stands, it’s already earned its Car of the Decade spurs for the 2010s.

The real Car of the Decade: the one they all bought…

All that said, it’s impossible not to talk about the AROnline Car of the Decade without giving an honourable mention to the brilliant Range Rover Evoque. It’s no exaggeration to say that it transformed the Jaguar Land Rover business by not only generating super-profitability, but by successfully extending the Range Rover brand into new and uncharted territories. After all, it was pretty much a re-clothed Freelander 2, and heavily based on Ford technology.

In short, the Evoque managed to reinvent the premium car market and created a new class of vehicle. Whether you love or hate the profusion of posh crossovers that followed it, there’s no denying that the Evoque has been good for the British car industry – especially as it’s now matured into the second-generation model, which will become a plug-in hybrid in 2020. We’d like to see it follow in the footsteps of the Jaguar I-Pace by becoming a full electric car, but there’s still life left in the good old internal combustion engine. For now…

Jaguar I-Pace: Car of The Decade 2010s

Keith Adams


        • Sure.

          The XE is made of aluminium, ostensibly for its weight saving properties yet is heavier than the competition’s models. It has a bland, badly designed interior made of substandard materials that are poorly assembled. It’s Ingenium diesel engines are rough and unrefined. It has appalling rear space. Exterior panel fit is often poor, particularly on early models.

          Early reliability has been poor, with electrical faults and build issues being key issues. The Ingenium engine is also suffering from problems with DPF regeneration and running issues.

          The XE was meant to sell 100,000 units per annum but has only achieved an average of around 30% of that figure. An appalling failure.

          All this from a car lauded as the 2nd coming by JLR in the lead up to its launch, a car that was meant to banish the memory of the X-Type, a car that was supposed to be an outstanding sports saloon with engineering, luxury and performance to beat the German rivals. It is none of those things.

          It’s true that it handles nicely and has responsive steering, but that’s really all it has when compared to the rest of the market.

          As a Jaguar, with all the history that entails, it’s a cynical, underengineered, cost cut, ill-conceived heap of junk.

          • Your comment about the XE being heavier than the competition’s models made me go and check the figures:

            BMW 3 Series: 1,520 – 1,815 Kg
            C Class: 1,460 – 1,940 Kg
            XE: 1,611 – 1,690 Kg

            I’d say that the XE isn’t conclusively heavier than its obvious competitors, while one of the other advantages of building from aluminium is how much less energy it requires to assemble the shell without using heat to weld. I also like the idea of the car being rust free.

            I’ll go along with you on the interior, which is nothing special, but then I’m not a fan of German interiors either. I tend to prefer diesels of the 6, preferably 8, cylinder variety, but I’ve not noticed the 4 cylinder Ingenium being particularly rough in those I’ve driven, certain a lot better than any of the rough and ready BMW 2.0d 4’s that I’ve tried. None of these cars tend to have livable rear space anyway and it’s all very reminiscent of folding up to sit in the back seat of a Chevette!

            I’ve never run an Ingenium long term to comment on the reliability, though I do hear stories of balance shaft bearing failures, while Ingenium DPF failures tend to go along with transverse mounted engines, where it’s not possible to mount the DPF close enough to the engine. I have no experience of ill fitting panels on XE’s, though my own (aluminium) Range Rover tends to have some (very minor) panel fit issues. I believe it can be more difficult to get some of the aluminium pressings to come out as well as they do in good old fashioned pressed steel.

            I wasn’t disputing the lack of sales success of the XE. Jaguar’s future doesn’t lie in making a “me-too” design for the typical German default, 4 door saloons, with the doll’s house scale interiors. Firstly, this a popular, but shrinking, market and secondly, anyone who wants a dull looking, 4 door saloon car, with no interior space, that’ll get stuck at the first sign of snow, will almost certainly have their heart set on a BMW or Mercedes already. The Germans have such a lead in building cars for those needs that Jaguar will always be playing catch up.

            I don’t accept that it’s a cut and dried case of cost cutting; if they’d wanted to put it into production more cheaply, they’d have made it from ordinary steel, just like everyone else.

            I would like to see Jaguar have made much more of an effort in styling the XE and new XF, especially after the spectacular looking XF Mk I. When even BMW can come up with a nice looking 3 Series, it’s no time for Jaguar to start building a car that might have been the next generation Honda Accord…

          • What an absolute load of rubbish.

            My wife’s XE R-Sport 2.0D is now three years old. It has covered 43,000 completely faultless miles at an average of 53mpg (largely driven “enthusuastically” by my wife!) and both handles better and is quieter on the motorway than her previous BMW 320d M-Sport.

            Yes, the rear is a little ‘snug’ and yes the boot isn’t huge but neither was the Beemer’s. The dasboard is very nice – logically laid out and not over-reliant on the touchscreen. It feels very well screwed together, there’s nothing wrong with the panel gaps and the Jaguar dealer seems able to service and update it as required without completely wiping the software and losing every single setting (even the radio presets!), unlike the BMW dealer, who managed this twice on the 320d.

            In fact, the biggest complaint we have with it is that the sound quality of the stereo is pretty poor but I blame Meridian for this, not Jaguar.

            Out of interest, which model did you own, for how long and did you experience every single one of that faults you’ve listed?

      • Hardly a heap of junk – Bloody stupid to say that – But it has been a commercial failure absolutely. Fortunately its platform underpins a whole load of more successful and very profitable models including the FPace and Velar, so not the end of the world.

        • Well opinion is divided on the XE’s merits, but clearly what qualities it does have were insufficient to convince enough buyers to meet JLR’s sales targets for it. So it’s a failure and a commercial mistake.

          Sadly, not the only one for the Jaguar brand in recent times. The current XF shares many of the same problems, with similar commercial results. A shame when the previous model got so much right.

    • The XE has flopped because with no estate, coupe or convertible it cannot compete with the 3 Series. It’s been outsold by the old X Tripe which says it all. Jaguar should drop it and the XF, leaving that market to Ze Germans. The i-Pace is a good looking thing, and the future. This, an electric Coupe and a really gorgeous low volume big car is all they need with huge component sharing with LR.

  1. If there was a category for foreign cars then it would be the Tesla Model S. In the way the Eriksson Flip Phone gave us at a price the first mobile phone you could carry and forget you were carrying it. The Tesla Model S gave us the first electric car at a privr you could buy, that could do everything you needed a car to do and be.

    For Dec 2029 I predict I will be writing here VW ID3 as the first electric car that gave us comparable price and performance with ICE.

  2. Voted for the Evoque, a pioneer in its sector (like the Freelander was) and a massive success.

    No way should the Q’ashqai be a controversial choice, it’s far more British than the Vauxhall Astra

  3. The Evoque may have been a pioneer of the now ubiquitous SUV, but it is/was the last “throw-of-the-dice” for the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powered vehicles.

    The good-looking Jaguar I-Pace – in comparison – takes the SUV formula, and prepares it for the next decade.

    • I agree with you but see it like this, I recall the magazine “Car” edition for December 79, with car of the decade. First page was the car that should have been, the Alfasud which had narrowly beaten the Citroen GS. However next pages was the car that actually was the car of the decade the Toyota Corolla, which had dominated the last decades global car market.

      So I would say it should be the I Pace, the car that marks what I hope will be ground zero for a whole new generation world beating JLR vehicles in the coming decade. However the reality is, that when it has come to shifting metal over the last decade the Evoque and Qashqai have it

        • Another bloody stupid comment – Idiots said similar things at the start of the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and 10’s so par for the course that one will rock up and now say it at the dawn of the 20’s.

          • Idiots said similar things about MG Rover and were proved right in the course of time. Let’s review this in ten years.

  4. I voted for the I-Pace.
    This is a technological tour de force, a styling masterpiece, an engineering marvel and a damn fun car to drive.
    It shows British engineers are world class.
    It beat the Germans ans Asians to market with a very, very credible vehicle.

  5. The Evoque certainly took the world by storm at its launch like the Mini did and set new standards for style and practicality. The UK car industry would be lost without both models, when it comes to export success.

  6. Think about not just british design and manufacture, but what a vehicle actually stands for…

    I vote for the LEVC TX (the new black cab)…

  7. The Qashqai was launched in 2007 so not a car of this decade! – (and the Astra is an odd choice as well) I Pace for me

  8. The Prime Minister’s JAG XJ is not on this list… I see it’s a 60 reg but still looks mint (as it should). Long may the PM have a British Jaguar!

    • Lets just hope all those tariffs on the ZF and Bosch components that constitute most of the high value content on the car don’t undermine that!

  9. The tesla model s pioneered and popularised the all electric car from being an expensive and compromised oddity to becoming mainstream which encouraged more established carmakers to follow suit

  10. The Dacia Sandero has to be in here, a car that sells for less than a Suzuki city car, but which is nearly as big as a Vauxhall Astra, and has provided reliable, cheap motoring to tens of thousands of drivers. It”s this decade’s answer to the Lada Riva and in basic form, it’s reintroduced people to winding down the windows by hand and singing on long journeys as a radio isn’t standard.

  11. Evoque for me, Im a Landrover fan and although the Evoque is the model in the range Id be least likely (for myself) I do admire it. My wife loves them and is seriously considering one as her next car.

  12. The I-Pace does seem a slight dead end though, a really good and advanced car, but one which seems to be a bespoke and unique model, rather than the first use of a platform that other JLR models can use.

    • Depends what you mean by platform. The sheet metal wont be used again as JLR move to the new MLA platform, but the drivetrains and power electronics will all be developed for further vehicles including next years new XJ

      • What it isn’t is a platform like the one VW have developed which can be used to easily produce a range of vehicles. Or the opposite approach by PSA where their “conventional” cars like the new 208 and Corsa are designed to be powered by either ICE or electric power.

        It feels more like the brilliant BMW i3, which has stayed unique within the BMW range and won’t be directly replaced.

  13. The actual Jaguar XE and XF Models and all the other Jag models exapt the electric one (I have not tested such a car) will remind me on my first Jag an XJ Series 1 with the 2,8 litre engine. Always standing in the workshop because of many small faults and some havier faults. The only thing wich makes the actual Jags better than the Jags of the seveties are the lower building levels of the german cars today. If you want a car in a premium segment you have to buy these from Japanese or Korean producers and not the premium called rubbish from Europe. I am sorry to say that, but only cost cutting in production for paying the shareholders some pounds more does not make good cars.

  14. I’d go for the Astra K SRI Sports tourer with the 200PS GM 1.6 petrol turbo engine – a real Q car:

    Slippery and good looking, lightweight at 1300kg, cab forward design, spacious interior, more luggage capacity than a Volvo VX60, really good handling, 0-60 in 7 secs and 45 mpg – and also about 7- 10K cheaper than an SUV and reliable.

  15. The sooner people smell the coffee and realize the SUV is nothing but an inherently uneconomical bad idea and we go back to saloons, estates and proper 4x4s for off road/towing the better

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