Read full verdict
- Good range
- Performance and driving dynamics feel genuinely Jaguar
- Fresh new design
- It’s not a Tesla
- It’s heavy
- Lack of dedicated charging network
- No CarPlay/Android Auto
- It’s not a Tesla
After months of teasing we’re in Portugal and behind the wheel of Jaguar’s great future hope – the i-Pace electric SUV. It’s the first of the mainstream premium brands to take the fight to Tesla. Specifically, the Tesla Model X SUV.
Hold on a second though. Right now, you can’t buy a mid-sized electric SUV. Not from Tesla, Audi, BMW or Mercedes. And seeing as the Tesla Model X is a much bigger car than the i-Pace, with more seats and a far bigger asking price, that opens the door for Jag.
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The i-Pace is the size and type of car that we suspect – and Jaguar hopes – a lot of affluent, tech-savvy, early adopter buyers actually want. Without falcon doors to be seen anywhere.
Ultimately, then, has Jaguar pulled off a coup? It’s first to market in a space you’d put money on ballooning in coming years…
Feast on some tech specs
It’s worth a quick run through the spec sheet, before taking to the wheel. The i-Pace is a full electric vehicle (EV). There’s no supplementary petrol motor, it’s all battery here. It comes with a 90kWh battery pack – whichever spec of trim you choose.
The batteries feed all four wheels through a pair of electric motors, one on each axle, which produce a total of 400 horsepower and 696 newton meters of torque. Officially, that equates to around 300 miles of range on one charge. It’ll cover the benchmark 0-60mph sprint in 4.5 seconds. Figures which tell you Jaguar isn’t messing around.
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The car is made mostly out of aluminium, yet weighs a not inconsiderable 2.1 tonnes. Batteries are heavy, see. It’s lower to the ground than both Jaguar’s F-Pace and E-Pace SUVs; length-wise it sits between the two (at 4.6m). Plus there’s more room inside than the bigger F-Pace, with the boot particularly impressive at a quoted 656 litres.
A bit of an animal
Let’s cut to the chase: what’s it like to drive in the real world? In a word: brilliant. It’s fast, exceptionally smooth, easy to drive and highly responsive.
It starts with the silence. That’s unnerving at first, but you’ll soon get used to zipping along without the roar of a petrol or diesel motor. And we don’t think you’ll miss the thrum or the rise and fall of revs as much as you might think.
With strong aero credentials (a Cd of 0.29), the i-Pace is whisper quiet at speed. Road and wind roar are particularly well suppressed and the aura it creates in the cabin is every bit worthy of a Jaguar. It feels rarefied and graceful on the move.
But it can also be a bit of an animal. Acceleration is savage. Is 0-60mpg in 4.5 seconds classed as fast, any more, when various hot hatches can run these types of figures? It is when there are two electric motors producing full torque from 0rpm, meaning the i-Pace absolutely hurls itself off the line from a dead stop. And then just keeps on going.
Overtakes are despatched in the blink of an eye, accompanied by a The Jetsons-style hyper-drive electric whine when you’re in dynamic mode (you can also turn this off). It’s not Tesla P100D Ludicrous Mode fast. But the Jag always feels impressively sports-car rapid.