Mauritian road trip | Circumnavigating paradise in the electric Jaguar I-Pace

Outside the Salt of Palmar hotel. <i> Image: Sean Parker </i>
Outside the Salt of Palmar hotel. <i> Image: Sean Parker </i>

What does Mauritius and Jaguar have in common? They’re both invested in the future and are looking at sustainable ways of limiting the amount of noxious gases emitted into the atmosphere. 

In fact, Mauritius offers tax incentives to those purchasing fully-electric or hybrid vehicles. Something South Africa’s government can take note of, as they currently slap an enormous tax on EVs.

It’s difficult not to like Mauritians, they’re friendly, always smiling, and a positive group of people. The population is tiny, with only 1.4-million inhabitants. 

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Our task was to complete the trip around the island, mostly along the coastal road, on a single charge of the electric Jaguar I-Pace. 

So, with the I-Pace’s navigation set and our local guide Lucas on the backseat, we set off on the first leg of the journey from Bel Ombré to the Central market in the capital of Port St Louis. 

The Mauritius coastline is one that makes every photo you capture look like a post card. From the ocean’s bright turquoise water to the dark volcanic rock juxtaposed by the lush green vegetation. If showing off was a country, it would be Mauritius. 

Our first stop is the Port St Louis central market, where I taste the locals brekkie-on-the-go, a soft roti (but more pancake in texture) stuffed with a Chilli sauce and spices, gateaux piments (chilli cake), and capped off with a refreshing glass of alouda (ingredients). 

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It’s a hearty snack that gave me a direct taste of the Indian influence of the island. Indians were brought to the island in 1834 as slaves by the British.

I was impressed by the Mauritian roads and locals are less pushy than South African drivers it must be said. However, a couple of bus drivers reckon they have their advance drivers’ licenses for sure, based on what I experienced.  

Back on the road and the I-Pace glided silently back into morning traffic as we exited the financial district and hopped back onto the coastal road. 

I dabbled with the car’s different modes: eco, comfort, and dynamic which are the most-used with the former providing the optimal settings to manage range, modest throttle response, and cutting down on auxiliary functions like the climate control. 

The MyEV set up allowed me to select between high or low of the resistance when releasing the throttle in order to ultimately increase the number of kilometres on the range.  

With our range indicating more than 320km, we cruised along the coastal road that is so close to the ocean it feels as if the water will lap up against the car. The I-Pace once again never put a paw wrong. Sharing the driving duties meant I could take in the stunning scenery. And what a scenery it is. 

From the lush greenery, coconut trees, white sand, coral and blue water in Bel Ombre, to the hustle and bustle of Port Louis, a city, our guide was very proud to tell us about. 

Port Louis is a growing city, dotted with newly developed high-rise buildings from some of the world’s major financial institutions, the Bank of Mauritius is close by too.  

I could feel the energy and see the growth that Lucas mentioned about how the area has changed with millions of euros of investment into the city. 

Our second stop was for lunch and a swim. The Grand Baie beach is sensational, the water is warm and crucially it’s devoid of coral that could leave you with nasty cuts. But not this one. Nope, this beach has a sand bank beneath it and is just divine, with locals and tourists frolicking in the beautiful water. 

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After my swim and a brief bite at the Sunset Café we jetted off, nudging the 294kW and 696Nm EV out of the busy area and back onto the open road. 

The I-Pace offers a cosseting ride thanks to adaptive damping and thick tyres. We moved onto the Salt of Palmar beach Hotel. The establishment is focused on sustainability and has vegan-free product usage in rooms, doesn’t use straws, opts for an a la carte service only and no buffet to save on food waste, and it uses bio-paint. 

With careful driving on my part we managed to save 33.9kWh of power from the regenerative braking system and averaged 20.3kWh per 100km. 

As the final stint came to an end from the east of the island in Palmar passing Beau Champ and onto the Heritage Awali resort, a steely grin formed as I realised what a privilege it was to see the island in this way. 

The car was brilliant, leaving us with just under 200km range from a starting point of 436km when we started that morning. 

And I guess when a government decides to make an active effort to help the fight towards climate change it made driving around silently that much sweeter.  

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