Acceleration, interior space, big boot, brave exterior design
Not cheap, better infotainment systems out there, claimed range is ambitious
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.
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.
What's the verdict?
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.