Jaguar’s first electric SUV takes aim at Tesla and out-drives it
- Claimed range of up to 298 miles
- Rapid charge times, roomy interior
- Impressive refinement, handling and performance
- Prices start at £63,495, so not cheap
- At 2.2 tonnes, it's a heavy car
- Jaguar's reliability record unfortunately isn’t the best
Welcome to a brave new world for this most iconic of British carmakers: the electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV. The luxury car world is changing, and Jaguar has embraced the electric vehicle challenge with this bespoke new car – and in doing so, has beaten all of its German premium rivals to market with a viable challenger to the Tesla Model S and Model X.
That the Jaguar I-Pace exists – and on sale now – is not in itself a surprise, as Jaguar has previewed the Austrian-built battery electric vehicle (BEV) with concept cars of the same name since 2016.
Make no mistake though, the I-Pace is a gamechanger for Jaguar – and for the car market generally. As such, it currently has no direct rivals, as the Tesla Model X is significantly larger. That will change in 2019 once the Audi E-Tron and Mercedes-Benz EQ hit the market.
What's the Jaguar I-Pace's technical specification?
The construction of the I-Pace is 94% aluminium, and uses suspension familiar from Jaguar XE, XF and F-Pace models. But it’s the all-electric drivetrain that makes this a Jaguar unlike any other.
A 90kWH lithium-ion battery sits between the front and rear wheels. Twin electric motors provide power, with one at each axle to provide permanent all-wheel drive. A single-speed transmission means there’s no need to change gear. Jaguar claims 400hp with 695Nm of torque, figures comparable to a high-performance saloon.
The battery is covered by an eight-year warranty, and I-Pace requires a service every two years or 21,000 miles.
How long does it take to charge the Jaguar I-Pace?
Using a 50kW DC charge point – the kind typically found at motorway services and public car parks – requires 85 minutes to take the I-Pace’s 90kWh battery pack from flat to 80% capacity.
Currently the UK is in the early stages of seeing 100kW DC rapid chargers being rolled out: using one of these a 0-80% charge will take just 40 minutes.
Most electric car owners recharge their vehicles overnight using a dedicated wall box: for a 0-80% recharge using a 7kW AC supply requires 10 hours, which should suit most owners.
Jaguar doesn’t yet quote a time for charging the I-Pace using a conventional three-pin domestic plug. While this isn’t the most ideal way of replenishing its battery, it’s a useful fall-back facility if more appropriate connections are unavailable.
Smart charging can replenish the battery during low-tariff electricity hours, while pre-conditioning allows owners to cool or heat the car while it’s still on charge, saving battery.
Jaguar claims 298 miles of range. During a test route that took in urban driving, motorway and a long stint on some very challenging and twisty roads driven with a good dose of enthusiasm, we reduced 248 miles of predicted range to 93 miles in, coincidentally, 93 miles of driving, though we’d expect to achieve a better figure in normal commuting.
Buyers will receive two sets of charging cables – a three-pin charger, and a Type 2 one for rapid charging – enough to satisfy the needs of its UK buyers. Sadly, there's no bespoke charging network akin to Tesla's impressive Supercharger network, which will mark it down in the eyes of many premium EV customers, whether the primarily charge at home or not.
How big is the Jaguar I-Pace?
Even though it’s an SUV, the I-Pace has a lower, sportier look than the E-Pace and F-Pace crossovers and sits between the two ‘Pace’ models size-wise – at 4,682mm it’s 50mm shorter than an F-Pace, if 271mm longer than an E-Pace. The lack of a conventional engine and gearbox has allowed Jaguar designers to create an extremely futuristic shape, with a very short nose and the cabin pushed forward like a mid-engined supercar.
Combined with a distance between the front and rear wheels that’s some 130mm greater than the F-Pace, the I-Pace has an extremely spacious cabin, despite its relatively compact proportions. This is why a six-feet tall passenger sitting behind a similar-sized adult will find a couple of inches of knee- and head-room. The spacious rear accommodation is also helped by the almost entirely flat floor, where normally a bulky transmission tunnel would compromise space.
Jaguar quotes a 656-litre boot capacity with the rear seats up, 1,435 litres when they’re folded. There’s also a 10.5-litre storage cubby between the front seats, and a tiny front boot.
There is a more conventional centre console between the front seats, but it houses the ventilation system and it’s incorporated in such a way that it makes it easy to access the touchscreen infotainment system and various controls arranged neatly on it.
Delve beneath the superficial appeal of the touchscreens for more advanced technology such as sat-nav settings optimised to electric car-friendly routes including recharging points, and access to Jaguar’s remote app via Amazon’s Alexa in addition to the more usual smartphone access.
Jaguar’s employed a similar trim level hierarchy to the E-Pace for its electric SUV, with S, SE and HSE grades topped by a special First Edition only available for a short time from launch. Equipment levels will be generous and, also like the Velar, a wool-blend textile upholstery from Danish supplier Kvadrat is available as an alternative to Windsor leather. Take-up has proved low on the Velar, but perhaps the eco-demographic will see the appeal.
It's a safe SUV, too, rated as being worthy of five stars when crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2018.
Orders for the Jaguar I-Pace can be placed now with prices starting at £63,495 for an entry-level S EV400 AWD version before government incentives.
WATCH: Jaguar I-Pace SUV Euro NCAP crash test
The Parkers Verdict
The early signs are good for Jaguar's entry into the electric car market. In terms of driving on UK roads, it's a very impressive performer, with a smooth ride on coils or air suspension, and near-narcotic levels of acceleration.
Inside, it's a decent quality proposition, which after the disappointment of the XE and XF in this area, is a genuine surprise. The electronic dashboard and Range Rover Velar-like centre console controls work really well, while the roomy interior will satisfy those who regularly carry people in the rear as well as the front.
It is an expensive proposition, and the factory PCP finance deals aren't that competitive, but shop around for good lease deals (if that's your thing), and the I-Pace is a reasonably competitive monthly proposition. Besides, for many buyers, the desirability of the I-Pace may well transcend its monthly payment proposition.
But until there's a public charging set-up that matches the Tesla's Supercharger network, we'll fight shy of giving the I-Pace an unreserved thumbs-up. Which is a shame, because it really is a desirable electric car. So, if you're not too affected by the public charging aspect of ownership, you'll have a whale of a time in an I-Pace.