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First drive: Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.

First drive: Jaguar I-Pace
Watch out Tesla, the Jaguar I-Pace means business.

 



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Jaguar I-Pace

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5


Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar I-Pace EV400 First Edition
Price: 81,495 as tested; starts at 63,495
Engine: two permanent magnet electric motors
Transmission: single-speed epicyclic, concentric with motor, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door SUV
Driving range: 298 miles (WLTP)
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Power: 400hp
Torque: 697Nm

What's this?

The Jaguar I-Pace isn't just the first fully electric production car to carry the Big Cat's logo; it's the first long-range battery electric vehicle (BEV) from one of the established premium brands. In many ways it's typically Jaguar, with sleek looks and a luxurious interior, yet in other ways it couldn't be more of a departure for the company. Its silhouette is like nothing we've seen before from Jaguar and its new-from-the-ground-up design affords it unique proportions that create a striking look, while adding generous passenger space.

View the I-Pace in isolation and it's a little tricky to gauge its true size. With the tape measure out it comes in just between the Jaguar E-Pace and larger F-Pace in length, but it's lower and wider than both. The long wheelbase is down to the need to house the 90kWh battery that lies under the cabin. Pushing the wheels out reduces overhang at both ends and gave designers the chance to build in whopping great big wheel arches. Even on the largest 22-inch wheels, this thing doesn't look over-wheeled. Just how lost the standard 18-inch wheels will look in those wheel houses when the more standard spec cars hit the streets remains to be seen.

The sleek bodywork isn't just there to look cool, as it's full of clever aerodynamic bits to allow the I-Pace to scythe its way through the air as efficiently as possible. In keeping with design tradition, the wide rounded grille remains in pride of place at the front, but active louvres behind it open and close according to cooling requirements, and its upper section curves inwards to channel air through the duct in the bonnet before going over the windscreen. Flush door handles, a gently sloping roofline and sharply cut off rear end have all been influenced by aerodynamics in the quest for maximising driving range.

On the inside, the cabin is a blend of typical Jaguar elements like beautiful leather and wood inserts if you so desire, with the latest in technology and a trio of display screens. The instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch unit that can be configured according to driving mode. In the centre of the dash is the Touch Pro Duo display and this screen is home to the main controls and infotainment system. In comparison to previous JLR touchscreens, it operates slickly, though we found the multitude of menus and sub-menus tricky to navigate through on the move. Below this are rotary controllers for the air conditioning and seat ventilation, plus a smaller touchscreen for ventilation settings.

Rear passengers get plenty of space thanks to that long wheelbase and while the roofline is sloping it doesn't impinge on headroom that much. The middle occupant does lose a little foot space due to a small hump to accommodate the electrical plumbing, but otherwise, it's roomy in the back. Boot space measures in at a reasonable 656 litres and can expand up to 1,453 litres. The front also has a 27-litre storage area that's ideal for keeping your charging cables in.

How does it drive?

Somewhat unsurprisingly for a battery-powered EV, the I-Pace delivers power in a very smooth fashion and with 400hp and 696Nm of torque on tap, it's no slouch away from the line. You can choose from a few driving modes, which either retard or sharpen the throttle response and you can choose to have a synthesised 'engine' sound pumped in. We must admit that under harder acceleration it does sound rather cool and futuristic. Incidentally, at more pedestrian speeds the car emits a low-frequency sound to alert those that might not have noticed it silently creeping up on them.

Nail the throttle and the I-Pace can propel you to 62mph from a standstill in a little under five seconds, which is good considering it's not the lightest of cars. What's more impressive, and useful, is how well it can add on speed while on the move. Fast overtakes become a cinch and even faster without the need for a transmission to drop a cog. Our first experience of the I-Pace car was in the First Edition model, which has all the options you could think of fitted, including huge 22-inch wheels. We were surprised at how well it coped with bumps in the road and how little road noise was being transmitted through the cabin.

At times the air suspension did seem a tad too floaty for our liking, though in general it serves the car well and absorbs a good deal of surface imperfection. When it came to tackling some light off-roading, the ability to raise the car's ride height was useful, and the various driver assistance systems meant that there was little to do other than steer. Very steep inclines and descents weren't an issue thanks in part to the minimal overhangs.

Even on the undulating Portimao race circuit, the I-Pace showed that it could be entertaining to drive. But rather than steering or suspension setup, it was the power of the regenerative braking that was most apparent here, slowing the car down sufficiently from 124mph to barely require a touch of the brake pedal.

It is this feature that owners are likely to enjoy the most when driving in towns and cities. The one-pedal driving is easy to adapt to, and it doesn't take long to accurately gauge how much distance is required before lifting off the throttle. It is possible to reduce the severity of the battery regeneration through the menu system, though unlike some other BEVs, there isn't a coasting function to allow the car to freewheel on longer, shallower descents.

Not only does the I-Pace hide its mass well, but it also remains agile enough that you'll enjoy hustling it along a fast winding road without it feeling like it's becoming a handful. Quite how well it will perform on smaller wheels with passive suspension remains to be seen, but in this guise at least it delivers the kind of drive we've come to expect from a Jaguar.

Verdict

Jaguar's new I-Pace is a great blend of the drivability you would expect from a sportier SUV, like the BMW X6, with the powerful yet smooth drivetrain of a Tesla Model X. Its modern looks and high-quality interior justify the price of admission and with a driving range that should suit most people, this is finally a viable alternative to a Tesla, only better.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 4 Jun 2018









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2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.

2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Image by Jaguar.








 

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