The I-Pace is the first in what will be an army of Tesla-fighters from Jaguar. The electric SUV has been four and half years in the making for the British firm and is unlike anything Jaguar has ever made; company bosses say the I-Pace is the most important car the firm has developed since the E-Type.
Engine, transmission and 0-60 time
The engine in the I-Pace is almost 600kg of lithium-ion batteries. They’re positioned as low down as possible between the axles to create a low centre of gravity and help give better weight distribution. Jaguar says the 90kWh battery is good for a 298-mile range on a full charge and generates 395bhp and 696Nm of torque. That translates to a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.
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Power is put down through all-four wheels via an electric motor on each axle. The I-Pace is able to calculate which axle can make best use of the available power at any given moment, while torque vectoring is then able to shuffle that power to individual wheels to maximise traction.
The battery can be topped up to 80 per cent of its capacity (that’s about 240 miles of range) in as little as 40 minutes. However, that’s providing you can find a 100kw charging point, of which there are none in the UK. Lower capacity 50kw chargers take 85 minutes to deliver the same range. If you charge from home or at the office from a 7kw wallbox charger that’ll take over 12 hours for a total refill.
What’s it like to drive?
In a word, excellent. As the batteries are mounted as low as possible in the car, and the steering wheel and seat have a huge range of adjustment, you can almost create the impression of driving a smaller more compact sports car.
Like any electric car – whether that’s a Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S – the relentless acceleration is what hits you first. Performance figures of 395bhp and 513lb ft may be down on the equivalent Tesla but you don’t come way from driving the I-Pace thinking it needs more power. If anything it feels faster from a standing start than Jaguar claims; the I-Pace just digs it and catapults you down the road without any fuss.
Unlike a Tesla the I-Pace is about more than just raw speed; a suspension setup shared with the F-Type and 400 development laps around Nardo and the Nurburgring means the I-Pace is the most rewarding electric car to drive quickly. It remains remarkably flat through high-speed changes in direction, with the intelligent four-wheel drive ensuring there’s no slip in traction. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable and ensures the I-Pace feels composed and settled at all speeds.
The brakes have very little feel, however. The first half of pedal travel is overly soft and spongy before eventually firming up albeit artificially. Clever regenerative braking, however, means you rarely have to touch the brakes in most circumstances.
Price and rivals
Prices kick from just under £60,000 and rise to over £80,000 for top spec models. The only credible rival to date is the Tesla Model X 75D, which starts from over £75,000. However, that will all change later this year when the Audi E-tron and Mercedes EQ C roll into showrooms.