Jaguar’s Electric Masterpiece: The I-Pace
Before there was the Taycan or the E-Tron, there was the I-Pace. Bold, daring and luxurious, this is Jaguar’s all-electric masterpiece.
There was a time when Tesla reigned supreme over the realm of electric vehicles. Aside from Japan’s award winning Nissan Leaf, Tesla had the grounds clear of any major competition. This left many of us wondering what would be the next “big thing” coming from Europe that would stand up against California’s electric wave and Japan’s top selling electric hatch. Little did we know that this European electric revolution would have been started by Jaguar.
In 2018, top of the class Germans were being shown the way by Jaguar’s brand new, fully electric I-Pace, which amassed a record of 62 awards in its first year. Directly competing with Tesla’s Model X, the I-Pace has been offering style, luxurious comfort and a generous amount of range to newly converted EV drivers. 3 years later, the I-Pace still impresses. It has unquestionably been a revolutionary car for the Jaguar brand and a pioneer in the electric field. It gives a true choice to EV customers who look for something more than the overly advertised Tesla gimmicks… but competition is rolling out very quickly. Is the I-Pace an EV that is still up to date and worthy of getting your hands on one? We drove the 2020 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE from Tokyo to Chiba to find out.
The I-Pace is referred to as an electric SUV
but the elongated body that sits low to the ground is what we instantly noticed when first encountering the I-Pace. When parked next to other cars, its height of 1,565 mm (5.1 ft) doesn’t necessarily stand out until you raise the I-Pace to its SUV-like height. You will also notice the I-Pace’s elongated, limousine-like body, which is explained by the slightly longer wheelbase. Why keep the same wheelbase as petrol cars when there is no need to leave space for an engine at the front? Jaguar acted smart and built a brand new platform for their very first EV, stretching the wheelbase to give passengers a luxurious amount of space.
Outside, the I-Pace respects the Jaguar design codes: aggressive looking headlights, angular shapes for the rear silhouette and taillights. Matching the EV theme, this I-Pace was painted in Caesium Blue (which refers to Caesium Chloride's blue glow). It may even surprise a few but the I-Pace kept its front grille, making it blend in with other members of the Jaguar SUV family. “Why keep a grille when there is no engine?” Well, not only does it give the I-Pace its signature Jaguar look, it is also here to create an air curtain. The air flows through the top part of the grille, is redirected through the bonnet, above the roof and flows out through the roof spoiler.
The overall design of the car stays discreet but Jaguar indulged in some daring rims. For this model, the I-Pace was fitted with optional ¥68,000 ($650; £480) 20” rims which you will likely have to upgrade to from the standard 18’’ wheels that seem incredibly small for such a massive body. As you unlock the car, the flushed door handles come out to you and you may also get the optional ¥61,000 ($580; £430) activity key to complement the experience. The activity key is a waterproof wristband that will allow you to leave your key inside the car for when you’re out catching some waves and don’t want to lose your key while exercising.
The unassuming exterior doesn’t reveal much of the astounding interior
but both driver and passengers open the doors to a beautiful, loungy environment. The Sienna Tan leather creates a warm atmosphere while the optional ¥228,000 ($2,200; £1,600) panoramic roof enlarges the cabin space. It evenly spreads light throughout the interior, making it an expensive but must-have option. The finishers (decorative panels) can be customized with wood, carbon fiber or in this case metal and the beautiful ambient light helps emphasize the overall loungy mood inside.
It doesn’t take long to appreciate the benefit of this new extended wheelbase platform: the space for each occupant is massive and you still get a generous 638L of trunk space, plus a very small frunk that will be just enough to store your briefcase. Both at the front and at the back, you can press and pull digital screen dials to control temperatures. These dials are common to other latest Jaguar Land Rover cars, which is a real delight as they are a great mix of tech, convenience and design. The backseats haven’t been forgotten: they are roomy, comfortable and heated just like the front seats.
As EV rhymes with technology, over 10 USB ports are available in the car, allowing you to charge your phones, tablets and any other electronic device you may have. There is enough space to store all of your devices including underneath the rear seats where you will be able to fit your phone, a tablet and even a small book.
When it comes to digital screens, the dashboard design is clean and easy to understand. The central gauge will indicate the amount of power you are consuming and the amount of power you are getting back aka regeneration. The infotainment system does more than just playing your favourite songs and becomes an important tool that gives you information on your driving behaviour. With this data, you can adjust your driving to make it more efficient and save more power. However, it isn’t very intuitive to use overall as functions are often hidden in sub-menus and the interactive information takes a few seconds to load. Not the most convenient to read real-time data.
Regarding your personal comfort in the I-Pace cabin, you may also get the optional cabin air ionisation or in other words: an air filter. When switched on, the air coming from the outside is attracted by a filter that captures PM2.5 (polluted air particles), pollen, dust and other undesirable particles. For ¥19,000 ($180; £130), this is one of the most affordable options on the I-Pace. Call it “placebo” but the air did feel pretty clean inside the Jaguar.
Forget everything you know from driving petrol cars;
despite the appearances driving electric is significantly different, especially with the I-Pace. There are obviously no gears to shift and the driving mostly revolves around balancing between the throttle and regeneration. The I-Pace’s regenerative braking system is one that is drastically different from what you could experience in other EVs, precisely because the regen is very pronounced. The second you lift your foot off the throttle, the I-Pace noticeably starts slowing down. Like anything new, it takes a moment to get used to but once you get the hang of it, you understand that it’s all about balancing the throttle to match the regen and you will sparsely make use of the actual brake pedal. Not only is it pretty economical, it greatly helps reducing brake wear. This whole process makes it very relaxing to drive but for enthusiastic drivers, this will inevitably become monotone.
If you’ve been closely reading our short regen story, you may have wondered: what happens to the brake lights!? Well, the regen braking counts as actual braking. Even without pressing the brake pedal itself, when the regen reaches a certain amount of braking, the brake lights automatically turn on.
The Jaguar I-Pace hosts two electric motors located at each axle,
which lowers the center of gravity and improves balance for this AWD vehicle. The two motors combined produce 394 hp, allowing the car to achieve a 0-100 in 4.8 seconds. As for the 90 kWh battery, it is located across the platform, underneath the floor.
Mash the throttle and the I-Pace is gone. The kick you get from the acceleration is impressive to say the least, leaving you wondering how it is possible that the same electricity that charges your smartphone can propel a 2,250kg object at such a high speed! There is no conventional launch control, meaning the computers will take a moment to figure out what you are attempting to do. Once it understands that your goal is to accelerate as fast as you possibly can, the I-Pace shoots off. Despite its mass, the I-Pace will give you overall good stability. It moves effortlessly, glides around corners and like a machine set into motion, the I-Pace feels unstoppable. The whole experience is accompanied by a spaceship-like sound especially on sudden accelerations. As for the brakes, they’re good enough.
The I-Pace may be big and spacious but you will get a good idea of your surroundings when driving. Again, a positive trait from the lack of an engine: the windshield stretches so far that you will be able to see what is right in front of you. The I-Pace fulfills its SUV expectations with its air suspensions allowing you to rise above the grass, sand and snow, all while also being able to get as low to the ground as possible for easy access. The only downside are the suspension creaks you can hear from the quiet and insulated interior.
You cannot talk about EVs without talking about charging.
The I-Pace is fairly generous when it comes to range and Jaguar claims its range can go up to 470 km. An optimistic statement that we tried to recreate, without much success. On average, a fully charged I-Pace combined with relatively efficient driving on highways and city roads will secure you close to 400 km. Of course, range depends on many factors. Turning on the air conditioning will immediately cost you about 20 to 30 km. It is also affected by your driving style as well as cold weather. If you plan your trip properly, you will be able enjoy a bit of spirited driving as well as comfortable cruising without feeling any range anxiety.
Before jumping in the I-Pace for your morning commute, you may precondition your car to a precise time. Instead of suddenly running the cold battery, this amazing feature will allow the battery to slowly warm up before use, thus prolonging battery life. As for your personal comfort, the car will warm up (or cool down) the cabin so you can simply hop in and drive off. If things really start looking bad, you can always turn on low power mode, which will turn off all infotainment screens and the ambient light and climate controls. The interior becomes a little dull (and pitch black at night), the regenerative brake will work more aggressively and you won’t be able to accelerate as swiftly as when in normal mode.
The Jaguar I-Pace is a luxurious vehicle
that combines clean energy and performance under one roof. With its extremely spacious cabin, Jaguar created an interior where you actively want to spend time in and where driving feels as relaxing as sitting in your living room. More than that, Jaguar truly surpassed themselves by bringing their decades of automotive expertise with the best that electricity has to offer. Not only were they the first major EV contender coming from Europe, it feels refreshing to experience an electric car that doesn’t forget the performance aspect of driving. Despite its mass, the I-Pace manages to stay relatively agile through corners and it isn’t just about going fast in a straight line.
There is still room for improvement of course. EV is synonym to eco-friendliness and it would be nice to be able to browse through a more varied catalogue of vegan leather interior or recycled fishnet fabrics. EV also goes hand in hand with tech and we could benefit from a more responsive infotainment system and a smoother lane keep assist.
The I-Pace may lean towards the environmentally friendly side, but it won’t be so friendly when it comes to your budget. The I-Pace EV400 HSE starts at a base price of ¥11,830,000 ($113,000; £83,000) but it isn’t going to be as much fun without the optional panorama roof, the ambient light, the good looking wheels, the air purifier, the gorgeous ambient lighting, the tan leather, and so on. ¥1,902,000 ($18,000; £13,500) worth of options should transform it into the luxurious cocoon it can truly be.
The competition in the EV field is getting fiercer but Jaguar has been able to impose their mark with an SUV that truly deserves all of the awards it won. Whether electric cars are your thing or not, is up to you to decide but, this is objectively a car that has tackled and solved a lot of the obstacles the EV world has thrown in Jaguar’s direction. Innovative while keeping the Jaguar spirit alive, the I-Pace will be remembered as the electric car that daringly led the way for other European makers to follow.