Driven – The All-New Electric I-PACE From Jaguar
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
There can be no denying the seismic move away from diesel-powered private cars, the result of increasingly draconian legislation aimed at improving air quality, especially in our traffic-choked inner cities.
Petrol power will undoubted be around for a long time yet, but most manufacturers are now rushing to launch a zero emissions electric car especially as battery technology continues to improve. Turn the clock back just a few years and the battery powered vehicles on sale had a realistic range of perhaps around 70 miles, less in cold weather.
City dwellers could make this work, but for those who wished to travel a little further afield, the compromises were too great.
First seen as a concept almost two years ago, Jaguar has now entered the electric vehicle market with its striking new I-PACE.
Is this the electric car we have all been waiting for? Quite possibly, but as Jaguar are a manufacturer of luxury cars, deep pockets will be required to join the EV party.
My invite to get behind the wheel required yet another journey to The Cotswolds for a rather exclusive UK launch. A diesel-powered XF was supplied to complete the round trip, with one quick fuel stop and an indicated 41mpg on the trip computer.
I was able to spend some time with one of the I-PACE’s designers who naturally enthused about his new baby.
The design team, lead by Ian Callum, started with a clean sheet of paper and freed from the usual constraints were able to come up with a striking new look.
With the battery sited under the floor and no engine, this has allowed the occupants to be sat further forward. This has the benefit of a better view and increased space for rear seat passengers.
As well as offering ample space for five, the rakish design gives the I-PACE a low drag coefficient of 0.29 which helps the Jag to silently slip through the air.
That sleek look also means a low centre of gravity for improved handling, clearly a priority from a manufacturer that has made its name producing sporty cars.
And sports car performance is what is on offer, with the two Jaguar-designed electric motors producing a combined output of 400PS and 696Nm of torque.
All-wheel drive traction ensures that the I-PACE is mighty quick and is able to sprint silently from rest to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds. Top speed is a rather academic 124mph.
Tested under the new WLTP regulations, Jaguar quotes a range of 292 miles in ideal conditions, more than enough for most drivers’ everyday journeys.
Our long test route included a mix of motorway, A-road and town driving, with time aplenty to get to the I-PACE’s measure.
Press the start button and the Jag silently springs into life. A further press of the ‘Drive’ button and the I-PACE is ready for action. There is a creep function if you wish the single-speed transmission to behave like a conventional automatic.
Maximum torque is available from rest, so a decent prod of the accelerator will see the I-PACE hurtle down the road.
Set the regenerative braking to its higher setting and deceleration is almost as strong, negating the need to use the brake pedal except in extremis. This one pedal driving takes a little getting used to, but is heartily recommended. An added benefit is that each period of slowing down or stopping helps replenish the battery and improve the car’s range.
Having established that sports car performance is on offer, I-PACE offers a range of driving modes. The Eco setting will help eke out the most range from the battery, whilst dynamic mode increases the damper stiffness, steering weighting and sharpens the pedal response.
I was able to try two cars, one with the optional Active Air Suspension system. As well as being able to increase or lower the ride height (for off-roading or easy access), the air suspension improves the ride and handling to a noticeable degree.
Expect to find the ride comfort at lower speeds a little on the firm side, especially if you opt for the largest 22-inch alloy wheels.
All I-PACE cars are extremely well equipped and that should come as no surprise with a range that starts from £63,495, rising to £81,495 for First Edition models.
Driven briskly over for well over 200 miles, I arrived back at the Cotswolds base with plenty of range to spare.
For longer journeys, a typical 50kW fast charger can deliver up to 62 miles of range in 15 minutes and can charge the battery from 0-80% in 85 minutes. Time for a leisurely lunch perhaps...
100kW chargers are in the pipeline which will cut charging times when they become more widely available.
The navigation system shows charging stations on the map and you can search for them based on distance and payment method.
At home, it is possible to charge an I-PACE from a domestic socket. This will add a mere 7 miles of range per hour, adequate for emergency overnight charging. Most will of course opt for a 7kW wall box which will deliver a far more acceptable 22 miles of range per hour (0-80% will take ten hours).
Clearly the Jaguar I-PACE has Tesla in its sights and whilst the American company has had the luxury electric car market to itself, many will feel happier buying a car from a known and established brand, with dealerships in most major towns.
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So are there any downsides to choosing an electric I-PACE over say a conventionally powered F-PACE? Other than the premium pricing, it is hard to think of any. Yes you may have to pause for recharging on a long car journey, but the inconvenience is limited.
After my day behind the wheel of the I-PACE, returning to a conventional diesel-powered car felt rather old school. My next destination was London and there I was able to see firsthand how the legislators are already demonising diesel. Increased congestion charging and a supplement to park in many boroughs is just the start.
I-PACE will surmount these issues and away from the confines of the city offers a decent range and a sporty drive to suit the enthusiast. And with space for the family and their chattels, I-PACE is set to deliver.
Priced from £63,495 to £81,495
Five-seat SUV practicality
Twin electric motors (400PS combined)
All-wheel drive, all-surface traction
0-60mph in 4.5 seconds
Top speed 124mph
292 mile range (WLTP)
Insurance Group 48
36 month warranty
Driven – The All-New Electric I-PACE From Jaguar, 9th September 2018, 9:24 AM