What is it like to drive?
We begin with a case study. We're following an Audi RS4 as it goes full Schumacher away from a roundabout. We extend our right foot and leap forward, instantly attaching ourselves to the Audi’s bumper, which is where we stay, silently and without fuss, until licence preservation kicks in. Blimey, 0–60mph in 4.5 seconds suggested the I-Pace would be quick, but RS4 quick?
This is the standard car, don’t forget, the EV400, no SVR fettling, no race-bred claims and, really, there’s no need for a family SUV to go any faster. Speed isn’t a problem, refinement at motorway pace is impeccable, but individuality is an issue because, degrees of brain-curdling acceleration aside, all EVs feel worryingly similar to drive. Strip away vibrations from the engine, a gearbox to interact with, intake and exhaust noise, turbo rush or a rampant top end and you’re left with something more homogenous than in the past.
So how does it compare to, say, a Porsche Taycan?
This is the interesting one. If you think of what the Jaguar brand stands for – in a nutshell effortless GT ability – then electricity works better for Jaguar than it does for Porsche. Yes, the Porsche is flatter and faster around corners, but the Jaguar is more cosseting and comfortable.
Given the I-Pace weighs 2.1 tonnes, corners carry significant potential for understeer and general sloppiness, but not so. A centre of gravity 130mm lower than the F-Pace and the highest torsional stiffness of any Jaguar is a good place to start, plus our test car had the optional self-levelling air suspension (£1,120) with adaptive damping (£815).
We can’t vouch for the standard set-up, but the sensation here is enough body roll to let you feel the weight transfer, but no more, allowing you to carve through corners with grip and confidence. The brakes are a blend of regeneration and mechanical friction, so you can forgive a mushy feeling at the top of the pedal travel, before they really start to bite.
There is more than one way to drive the I-Pace. In Dynamic, like your pants are on fire, with more weight to the steering and snap to the throttle. Which is fine so long as you know a charger is nearby and you have several hours to spare. Or like a saint in Comfort or Eco mode when you’ve got miles to cover.
Or, how about turning off the road altogether?
Don’t be daft, the I-Pace isn’t an off-roader, although it does have a low grip mode and AdSR. We're not sure Adaptive Surface Response, which adjusts motor and brake settings depending on surface and conditions, was ever expected to handle actual off-roading. We get to a section where the grass is door-deep and the chalk beneath slippery. The traction control skitters and clicks in the background, the motors whine a little, but momentum is maintained.
Clearance and approach/departure angles are good as there’s no chunky ICE lengthening the nose and no vulnerable exhaust underneath. We already know electric-car packaging (heavy batteries low down and in the middle, lighter motors on each axle) is good for on-road dynamics, now it looks like it works off-road, too. There’s even some axle articulation. Some.
The only slight niggle is that, when crawling over bumps and obstacles – or even just reversing up a driveway – you sometimes have to give the throttle an extra prod, so progress can be a bit jerky (switching Creep mode on might have helped).
What about range?
Jaguar claims up to 292 miles, and while that’s not impossible it requires some fairly extreme measures such as crawling along at no more than 45mph and denying yourself heating, aircon, stereo, head-up display, lane-assist, wipers and headlights.
On a warm summer’s day, we completed a 200-mile round trip with the range indicator showing around 50 miles remaining – but that was treading lightly and averaging around 60mph. Drive at the full speed limit and we reckon you can bank on 230-240 miles in warmer temperatures, 200 miles when it's colder.