Jaguar I-Pace review: Jaguar shows the world how an EV should be done

Jaguar’s first all-electric vehicle is more than just an SUV; it’s the best EV on the road

“The Jaguar I-Pace is the best electric car in the world.” A bold claim to make, but it’s one Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design, makes with almost no pause. He firmly believes it and, after having spent time behind the wheel of the I-Pace myself, it’s hard to argue with him. It may not be the first all-electric vehicle to market, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it really does feel like nothing else on the road right now.

Its surprisingly powerful acceleration of 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds may not be as quick as the Tesla Model S’s 3.2 seconds (although it bests the Model X by 1.5 seconds) but it has a lot more personality. It’s understandable, too, as Jaguar really did need to pull out all the stops with the I-Pace. Not only is this one of the first all-electric performance cars from a major manufacturer, but it’s been four years in the making and marks a huge step forward for Jaguar Land Rover.

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Jaguar I-Pace review: Design

Callum says Jaguar had “unprecedented design freedom” with the I-Pace. By scrapping the engine and replacing it with an electric powertrain and a battery on the floor, the designers felt they could start with an entirely clean sheet and – while the car still looks very much like a Jaguar – it’s the most dramatic vehicle to arrive in the company’s lineup since the angular F-Type reared its head.

The most notable difference is the I-Pace’s short nose. With no combustion engine, there’s no need for a long bonnet so the cab has been brought forward to fill the space. It lends it a more dramatic look, with curves over its front haunches turning into a bold, squared-off back that makes it stand out. Callum also stated that, while the team could have dropped the I-Pace’s bonnet further to improve aerodynamics, tampering with the aesthetics of the brand’s trademark front grille was off the cards.

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Another advantage of pulling the cabin forward means that the I-Pace’s footprint is similar to Jaguar’s XE saloon, a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or a Porsche Macan. Jaguar sees this as a way of bringing a full-size SUV and all its storage space to a form factor that’s inherently friendlier to town and city driving. Jaguar’s own E-Pace still feels like a better option in these environments but, due to its comparative lack of interior space, the I-Pace may be the more sensible car to own.

Elsewhere, Jaguar has pushed a clean aesthetic for the I-Pace. Sleek door handles recede into the car’s flanks to create a smooth side profile while driving. The lines of the dramatic scoop in the bonnet continue over the top of the car’s glass panoramic roof and sweeps under the rear roof wing to cut a smooth silhouette. This has the added bonus of removing the need for a rear windscreen wiper as rain and dirt just doesn’t land on it.

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Jaguar I-Pace review: Interior design

On the inside, Jaguar has worked hard to ensure the I-Pace feels exactly like sitting in any other Jaguar out there right now. It’s certainly spacious but the I-Pace doesn’t feel as cavernous as a Tesla or a BMW i3 and it’s far more luxurious in terms of finish compared with the Nissan Leaf and even the Tesla Model S.

The I-Pace also has all the interior features you’d expect of a Jaguar, including plush leather sportscar-style seating, that sweeping panoramic glass ceiling and the luxurious leather stitching detailing. The dashboard is a spread of glass, chrome buttons and dials, bringing a level of tactility to a car whose primary interface is a touchscreen. It’s a very different approach to the huge iPad-like display found in the centre of a Tesla and it’s all the better for it.

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At 6ft 8in, there are plenty of cars I can’t can’t squeeze into the back of, so it’s pleasing to find that there’s enough headroom and legroom in I-Pace for me to sit comfortably; there’s more than enough room for four large adults in the car.

As for storage space, because there’s no transmission tunnel running down the centre of the car, there’s a big, 10.5-litre storage bin between the two front seats. There’s also a huge space for storing phones, keys and other bits and bobs under the centre console, while rear passengers get under-seat storage areas for laptops and tablets. The boot has 656 litres of storage – just a hair more than the F-Pace – and with the rear seats down that expands to a huge 1,453 litres. There’s also a small front boot – or “Froot” as Jaguar calls it – offering an extra 27 litres of space under the bonnet.

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Jaguar I-Pace review: In-car technology and the connected car

As an electric car, and a flagship vehicle for Jaguar, you’d expect the I-Pace to come packed to the gills with technology – and it does. First up is the 12.3in digital instrument cluster, which comes as standard on the I-Pace, unlike Jaguar’s other cars. It functions just as you’d expect with the ability to display 2D and 3D maps for guidance right between the dials, alongside speed and battery charge data.

In the centre console, where Jaguar’s usual Touch Pro infotainment system would reside is the new Touch Pro Duo system, a dual-screen setup consisting of 10in and 5in touchscreen displays. The larger upper screen functions as your sat nav and standard infotainment system, with the lower screen mostly used to adjust the climate control. You can even use them simultaneously so the upper screen acts as your sat nav while the lower screen is used to switch between media inputs.

Either side of the lower Touch Pro Duo screen are two dials with high-definition displays embedded within them, which allow you to control temperature and air conditioning settings without having to take your eyes off the road. It’s also nice to have a level of tactility to everything too, meaning you aren’t just prodding at a glass touchscreen all the time.

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Among the most interesting interior features of the I-Pace are the cabin noise control options. Using something akin to the active noise cancellation methods found in noise-cancelling headphones, Jaguar manages to deaden the sound of the I-Pace’s cabin to create a quiet bubble of calm. A bubble that dampens the sound of the tyres on the road, melting away the quiet hum of the I-Pace’s electric motors. When music is playing, you can fully enjoy the crispness of the car’s Meridian sound system with little to no road noise interfering.

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Higher grades of the I-Pace, such as the SE and HSE don’t seem to offer much differences in terms of interior technology. The HSE and First Editions add for zonal climate control and come with powered tailgates and advanced auto-dimming, folding heated door mirrors. – which the S and SE models don’t. For the most part, the extras come in the form of driver assistance technologies.

For instance, you don’t get the helpful 360-degree surround camera to help you manoeuvre into tight spaces unless you snap up the HSE model. The entry-level S model also lacks adaptive cruise control, blind spot assist and high-speed emergency braking.

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However, all vehicles do have the off-road features, with low-traction launch assistance, hill-launch assistance and the same off-road cruise control capabilities as found in the Jaguar E-Pace.

Jaguar is also bringing in a selection of connected car features to help you monitor your car’s location, its level of charge and even plan routes that ensure you hit charging stations at the right time, directly from the screen of your smartphone. The system is even clever enough to use your phone’s Bluetooth signal, along with the I-Pace key fob, to identify who’s driving, adjusting seat, wing mirror and media setup accordingly. You won’t even need to tell it your preferences as, over time, it’ll learn and recall driver preferences automatically.

There’s even an Alexa Skill rolling out in time for launch just in case you’d like to ask Alexa some questions about your car.

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Jaguar I-Pace review: Price and performance

Unlike every other car Jaguar has made, the I-Pace comes with only one “engine” option, comprising twin electric motors and a 90kWh Lithium-ion battery built from 432-cells. This means the differences between each version of the I-Pace simply boil down to levels of trim. If all you want is the raw power an EV affords you, combined with the driving performance of a Jaguar, you can opt for the entry-level pack and know you’re not missing out on any of the fun.

Prices start at £63,495 for the entry-level I-Pace S and run to £74,445 for the I-Pace HSE. If you’re lucky enough to order in time for an I-Pace First Edition, you can get one for £81,495 and, thanks to the UK government subsidy on electric vehicles, UK buyers can slash £4,500 off the price of any I-Pace model to take the sting off things just that little bit.

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The I-Pace’s two motors deliver plenty of power and torque, with a total of 394bhp and 512lb/ft on tap. It’s leagues behind the raw power of the Model X but it sits in a similar territory to a top-spec Jaguar F-Pace. The battery also affords the I-Pace a range of 298 miles on a single charge – going by WLTP test cycles.

And it’s a hugely drivable setup. Putting your foot down delivers incredible amounts of acceleration, with no need to flick your car into “Ludicrous Mode” if you want power. The I-Pace delivers what you want, when you demand it.

And, yet, feather the accelerator and you’ll roll off the line, smooth and easy. It’s the perfect cruise car, with gradual acceleration for when you want to relax and eat up the miles. It feels just like a car should do: poised and planted with weight and heft, rather than a milk float overflowing with power.

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It’s also hugely versatile. Its generous interior space makes it a great fit as a family car but it has more than enough oomph to take on track days with vigour. And you can raise the ride height from the sportier standard 14cm clearance up to the F-Pace’s 21cm so you can take it off-road with little quibble.

One feature Jaguar is keen to push with the I-Pace is its regenerative braking abilities. By harnessing energy through braking, Jaguar has managed to extend battery life ever so slightly over stop-start journeys. The power-harnessing technique has the knock-on effect of slowing the I-Pace down gradually, even to the extent of slowing it to a complete stop, something known within the EV industry as “one pedal driving”.

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It’s certainly a very different way to drive a car but once you get used to it it makes perfect sense. Slowing to a stop is a smooth process, the brake pedal only coming into play for sudden stops or when you need quick deceleration.

Charging seems like a relatively standard affair too. Charging at home with a 7kW wall box, you’ll be looking at around 13 hours for a 100% charge from flat, or 10 hours to reach 80%. Plugging into a 50kW charger will see the 80% reached in a mere 85 minutes and by using a 100kW socket you’ll see that drop to just 40 minutes. If you just need to boost your range briefly, Jaguar says the I-Pace can get an extra 62 miles on just a 15-minute charge from a 100kW charger.

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Jaguar I-Pace review: Verdict

Until I get a chance to drive the Jaguar I-Pace in the wild and see how practical it is on my own terms for short and longer-distance drives, I can’t deliver a truly final verdict. There’s also a tonne of connected features still to come between now and when cars are delivered to customers later this year, so there’s still plenty still up in the air about just how practical a car the I-Pace will be.

However, it’s clearly already the best EV on the market right now and it isn’t the worst value-for-money proposition, either. At an entry price of £60,000, it delivers more than enough for the asking price: performance, off-road capabilities space and practicality. It’s a chameleon that can be a family car, a commuting cruiser, a weekend explorer’s go-to and the expensive plaything you throw around the track every now and again.

The I-Pace is a pleasure to drive and its cabin is a wonderfully blissful space to be in. It’s very hard to not have a good time in the I-Pace, both behind the wheel and as a passenger.

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