Jaguar I-Pace Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Jaguar I-Pace

£ N/A
810
Published: 22 Apr 2021
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The I-Pace won’t be for everyone, but hats off to Jaguar for making a car that steps boldly into the unknown, and shows those pesky Germans the way

Good stuff

Acceleration, interior space, big boot, brave exterior design

Bad stuff

Not cheap, better infotainment systems out there, claimed range is ambitious

Overview

What is it?

It was the boldest of bold moves from Jaguar: an all-electric SUV, the first credible rival to Tesla’s premium EV dominance, a car that beat its German rivals to market and a radical piece of design. The I-Pace signalled the start of something big when it first launched in 2018 – that mainstream manufacturers, not just Silicon Valley start-ups and BMW, were prepared to invest properly in building new-from-the-ground-up electric cars you might actually want to own, and might be able to afford.

How far will it go on a tank of electrons?

After incremental updates over the years, headline facts are currently thus: the I-Pace uses two concentric electric motors, one on each axle for permanent four-wheel drive, producing 395bhp and 513lb ft of torque, delivered through a single-speed gearbox. The lithium-ion battery, placed under the floor – de rigueur these days – is sized at 90kWh, good for a claimed 286-mile range on the WLTP cycle. Give it the berries and 0–60mph in 4.5 seconds and a 124mph top speed is rapid by any measure.

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Blimey. What about charging?

The I-Pace can also make the most of 11kW home chargers, which you can only get if you have a three-phase electrical supply. With one of these boxes the I-Pace can now charge at a rate of 33 miles per hour, compared to 22 miles per hour from a more common 7kW wallbox. A 100kW public charger can add 78 miles in 15 minutes. It’s a lot to take in, and that’s before you’ve considered whether you’ve actually got anywhere convenient to plug it in, or whether a limited range is compatible with your lifestyle.

It’s easy to forget that the I-Pace is still just a car: four tyres, a steering wheel, some seats surrounded by aluminium and glass. If anyone’s going to be persuaded to cough up at least £65,245 for a base spec car, it still needs to go, stop, steer and turn heads with panache.

It's certainly a looker...

It does look good, doesn’t it? Those 20-inch wheels – standard on the SE and HSE models and often blacked out to merge with the rubber – are probably the Instagram/ride quality sweet spot… there are also 19s available if you want to look silly, or 22s if you must. But it’s the proportions that steal the show: the stubbed nose that brings the front wheels forward with it and the high, squared-off rear end set the template, while the rear spoiler, vented bonnet and flush doorhandles provide the detail. Its beauty doesn’t slap you like a botoxed Alfa, it’s a slower burn than that, but eventually its bravery hooks you in.

Read a long-term review on the Jaguar I-Pace by clicking on these blue words.

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What's the verdict?

Jaguar stepped bravely into the unknown and nailed it. A rapid, desirable, good-looking SUV that happens to be powered by electricity

Let’s start with the caveats, shall we. The I-Pace isn’t a cheap car, it’s not an EV for the masses in the same way as the entry-level Tesla Model 3 is. It remains a premium vehicle that’s priced accordingly. However, it is an electric car that you’ll actually want to own, which, if you’ve ever seen a G-Wiz or a first-gen Nissan Leaf, is a novelty.

We also can’t deny that there are still issues around range anxiety, despite the fact that a real-world 200-mile range will comfortably cover the needs of the majority of buyers. Even so, some won’t even consider it. But it’s a learning process and we’re all in it together. What won’t put people off is the way the I-Pace drives: acceleration is in the senior leagues, handling is surprisingly tight, and the way all that performance is available in an instant, is loutishly addictive.

Sure, it strips away a lot of the interaction we love with gearboxes and engines with individual characters, but it’s rewarding in a new and exciting way. It’s also comfortable, quiet, spacious, well-built… all the things that, if we’re honest, matter day-to-day. The I-Pace won’t be for everyone, but hats off to Jaguar for making a car that steps boldly into the unknown, and still shows those pesky Germans the way.

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