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The Top Gear car review:Jaguar I-Pace
For:Acceleration, interior space, big boot, brave exterior design
Against:Not cheap, better infotainment systems out there, claimed range is ambitious
What is it?
It is the boldest of bold moves from Jaguar: an all-electric SUV, the first credible rival to Tesla’s premium EV dominance, a car that beats its German rivals to market and a radical piece of design. The I-Pace signals the start of something big, that mainstream manufacturers, not just Silicon Valley start-ups or BMW, are prepared to invest properly in building new-from-the-ground-up electric cars you actually want to own, and might be able to afford.
Headline facts are thus: the I-Pace uses two concentric electric motors, one on each axle for permanent four-wheel drive, producing 394bhp 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 298-mile range on the new, more stringent WLTP cycle. Give it the berries and 0–60mph in 4.5 seconds and a 124mph top speed is rapid by any measure. Charging takes a little longer – 10 hours to top it up from 0–80 per cent with a 7kW home charger, or 45 minutes if you can find a 100kW DC supply. 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 new 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 £58,500 (after the £4,500 government grant), or £76,995 for the fully-loaded First Edition, it still needs to go, stop, steer and turn heads with panache.
It does look good, doesn’t it? Those 20-inch wheels – standard on our HSE model and blacked out to merge with the rubber –are probably the Instagram/ride quality sweet spot… there are also 18s 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.