2.1.2019Jaguar I-Pace first drive
Jaguar's I-Pace was one of the most highly anticipated cars of 2018. Promising a long electric range with the quality and driving dynamics characteristic of Jaguar, the I-Pace promised much for those interested in cars - EV or otherwise. NGC has had the chance to get behind the wheel on UK roads, to find out whether the I-Pace lives up to expectations.
Review by Chris Lilly
The I-Pace has 400 hp available for the driver to access, provided by twin electric motors, one placed on each axle. It's a fair amount of oomph, and supported by 696 Nm of torque for the all-wheel drive system. This means that pick-up is as quick as you might expect from an electric car, a statement backed up by the 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds. Put into perspective, that's a smidge faster than the company's supercharged V6 powered F-Type coupe sportscar. With instant access to that power - because of the nature of electric motors - and all wheel drive,
I reckon it will be faster from 0-30 or 40mph than most things on the road. In real terms, the I-Pace is very quick, and it is performance that is so easy to access. There are technically faster cars around, but point-to-point, I reckon the I-Pace will keep up with just about anything this side of the £100,000 mark. It shoves you back into your seat when you stamp on the throttle, gripping and going with no fuss at all. It's a very digital way of driving, with little in the way of build-up or noise to give you a sense of gathering momentum; just the forces that you can feel on your body, and the grin that spreads across your face as the Jag pulls hard at just about any speed. On the motorway, it will still pick up eagerly from a cruise of 60mph or so, and it's perfectly happy keeping up with traffic at speed. Around town, the throttle response isn't too twitchy, so it's easy to pilot in traffic. The brake pedal doesn't provide much feedback - a common trait on EVs - but since the regenerative braking system can be set to strong, it's easy enough to complete a trip without really needing to use it. It's an EV with performance to suit all environments.
Jaguar has a long-standing reputation of being able to blend sporty handling with comfortable suspension. It's a trait that has been applied to the I-Pace with aplomb, despite the raised ride height of the I-Pace's SUV styling. The Jaguar will shift back on its suspension when accelerating hard, and you can feel the car's weight move over the outside wheels when cornering with enthusiasm. But body roll is kept under control, and the car will corner relatively flat. It's helped by the low centre of gravity provided by having the car's batteries placed low down in the chassis. You can feel the car almost hooked to the road, with the car pivoting around the low-slung weight when cornering.
It gives the I-Pace a solidity that helps with refinement and allows Jaguar to put more supple springs on the car than would otherwise be possible, while retaining a set-up that allows for a dynamic driving style. This is of great benefit for the majority of the time that the Jaguar will be driven - namely, normally. Although fun to take the I-Pace on a B-road blast, the reality is that most of the time, the Jaguar will be used to complete the commute or run to the shops. Here it will tackle far more demanding terrains, like speed bumps, pot-holes, and general poor road surfaces, rather than a smooth ribbon of tarmac. It performs very well though, cossetting occupants from all but the most jarring of road imperfections. It's a true Jaguar then, offering a fine blend of comfort and dynamism.
The I-Pace is a handsome SUV, very much in line with Jaguar's current design language. The front-end in particular is pitched in between the E-Pace and F-Pace SUVs, though with a lower upper edge, and the tell-tale bonnet vent indicating that there isn't an engine up front. As SUVs go, it looks athletic, and there are no elements likely to put anyone off buying on on looks alone - a good job done by Mr Callum, Jaguar's Director of Design. The electric elements help with an overall sporty stance - with the wheels pushed into the corners of the car - but help even more so inside. There is a surprising amount of space in the cabin, and although there is a sloped roofline and cuts made into the bodywork to create rear haunches, head and shoulder room are impressive for a car this size. The legroom is inhibited a tiny bit by the batteries placed under the floor of the car, but those complaining about such an issue will be very fussy, going on a lengthy trip, or be long of limb. For most passengers the majority of the time, occupant space is good, and three can sit across the rear thanks to a lack of transmission tunnel.
The same is true for boot space. Because the I-Pace is an electric SUV, many compare it to the cavernous Tesla Model X, though in reality the I-Pace is a smaller car. Understand this and the boot space shifts from 'disappointing compared to a Model X' to 'pretty good'. It's certainly practical enough for day-to-day life, even for a family that has to take pushchairs and other large bits of kit around. It will cope with a family holiday too I have no doubt. Load space doesn't go particularly high, but depth is good, as is width. There's no load lip, and the opening is square, helping make loading up the I-Pace easy.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The I-Pace's cabin was one of the least attractive elements of the model tested, though that is only in terms of colour choice. A mixture of red and black leather made for an interior with a little too much red leather for personal tastes. The good news is that this issue can easily be overcome with specifying it differently, and I'm sure a lighter or more natural colour would help here for those that agree with me. The core elements of the cabin have been very nicely designed, with a large, wide touchscreen system controlling much of the car's functions, and a customisable set-up that allows the driver to put their most used menus in easy to access spots. The Touch Pro Duo infotainment system also uses a second screen beneath the main system, which controls heating systems, with some neat, multi function dials that perform different tasks depending on whether you lift or push the rotary switch first. Here, air conditioning and seat settings are quickly accessed.
The driver gets a digital instrument binnacle, which can also be customised for various displays on different elements of the car, from navigation to efficiency. It's a decent system, but not as good overall as the likes of Audi's set-up. I prefer it to Tesla's instruments though. The steering wheel is multi-function, but not fussy in design, and of a good size to make you feel as though you are driving a (slightly large) driver's car. It helps get a driving position that is just so, and makes the cabin a great place to sit in for the driver. Most importantly though, build quality feels as good as you would expect from a Jaguar, and much better than Tesla's offerings.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Here we come to the key element of Jaguar's I-Pace - can it compete with Tesla in the long-range EV stakes? Essentially, yes. The range available from a Model S or Model X with a slightly larger 100 kWh battery is longer than the 292 miles (WLTP) of range quoted by Jaguar. In real-world conditions though I reckon the I-Pace will be pretty close to what you can get from a Model S or Model X, and works out as similarly efficient. Perhaps the Teslas go slightly further per kWh used, but it's fine margins, and the I-Pace offers genuine long-range EV potential.
During my brief test time with the car, the Jaguar was showing an indicated 260 miles of range on a full charge - gauged from those that had driven before me. A bit of time spent on the motorway saw that drop to the equivalent of 250 miles from full, but it levelled out there. After a spot of enthusiastic driving, the economy score dropped to 41.8 kWh/100 miles for a range of a bit over 200 miles on a single charge, but this is effectively a minimum figure you could expect. A mixture of roads and driving styles saw an efficiency figure of 38.7 kWh/100 miles averaged, but again, that's a low estimate for what I would expect most drivers to get on day to day driving. Until we've tested the range more thoroughly, I'd anticipate that 250 miles will be the normal minimum range available, and around 275-285 miles would be realistic for many drivers. After around 80 miles of driving, the I-Pace was showing 185 miles of range at 74% charge, good for 250 miles or so.
The I-Pace - like most EVs - bristles with efficiency-aiding technology. There are two levels of brake energy recuperation modes to select; high and low. High could be stronger to be honest, but both are fairly well pitched to help top up the battery under deceleration. There are also driving modes to select, including Eco, which helps keep drain from auxiliary systems to a minimum, plus also lessens throttle response. Driver coaching is available too, with tips on eco driving and scores for each trip you complete based on acceleration, braking, and maintained speed. The I-Pace can be also be pre-conditioned to save battery charge once on the move.
In terms of charging, the I-Pace has a 7 kW on-board charger for home, and public points using a Type 2 connector. Rapid charging is possible through the CCS connector, though at a higher than normal rate of up to 100 kW where chargers allow. The Jaguar will also charge on typical 50 kW rapid units, but would take around 2 hours for a full charge. An hour on 50 kW CCS will add a quoted 168 miles of range, while 100 kW chargers, as they roll out, will almost fully charge the battery in that time. According to our calculations, the Jaguar I-Pace tested has a Next Green Car Rating is 34.
As with most electric vehicles, equipment levels are high to help improve the sense of value for money. As such, the I-Pace - as a premium product - comes extremely well kitted out. Standard features on the entry-level I-Pace S include 18-inch alloys, automatic LED headlights, automatic wipers, acoustic laminated windscreen, keyless entry and start, two-zone climate control, synthetic leather sports seats, part-electric front seats, Meridian stereo, Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, lane keep assist, rear camera, and parking pack with sensors all round and park assist. Moving up to SE sees 20-inch alloys added, a powered tailgate, premium LED headlights, 10-way electric front seats and leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot assist. Top level HSE - after First Edition models have shifted - adds different 20-inch alloys, a powered gesture tailgate, and 18-way electric heated and cooled front seats with premium leather throughout. Options include a fixed panoramic sunroof or black contrast roof, gloss trim pack, and carbon fibre exterior trim pack, on top of the usual paint, alloy, and trim material alternatives. Air suspension is available too, which was added to the test model, and made for an en extremely composed ride.
The Jaguar I-Pace is the first model to threaten Tesla's hold on the premium electric market - and it's a fantastic challenger. Jaguar has done a superb job for its first EV. The combination of style, quality, range, comfort, and performance is an appealing mix; it makes the I-Pace not just one of the best EVs around, but one of the best cars on the road.
Model tested: Jaguar I-Pace HSE EV400
Engine / CO2: Twin electric motors / 0 g/km
Trim grades: S, SE, HSE
On-road price: From £59,995. As tested: £70,945 (both inc. PiCG)
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 5.0 Stars