First Drive Jaguar I-Pace: I-nstant hit
The I-Pace offers the same level of performance as a Tesla, but it outdoes the Model S and X in terms of range (480 km WLTP) and it costs less. On paper, it looks like the Jag is a born winner. But how does it drive, smell, feel and sound like in practice? Fleet Europe went to Portugal to find out.
JLR is the first conventional OEM to build a premium electric crossover. Audi will bring out the highly-anticipated e-tron in a few months’ time, but until then, this Jag rules the playground. A 90 kWh-battery, an electric motor on each axle, a total output of 400 PS and 696 Nm of instant torque: that should satisfy the most discerning customers.
Perhaps it is even too much of a good thing, from a strictly rational (i.e. Fleet) point of view. But then again, Jaguar is not a strictly rational brand. It is a brand for people who care for design, refinement, performance and status. With the arrival of the I-Pace, you can add sustainability to that list.
Mastering 400 silent horses
After two days of devouring winding roads draped over Algarvian hilly landscapes, I can assure you that the 400 silent horses are all there, but also that this Jaguar masters them sublimely. The battery pack sits down low, the wheels have been pushed to the corners of the chassis and each of the independently driven axles carries 50 percent of the weight. Mechanics and electronics work together to counter the slightest pitch and roll movements and assure tonnes of grip.
All test vehicles were equipped with the optional air suspension, which even in dynamic mode succeeds in filtering irregularities with verve. Unlike in many other cars, there is a clear difference between the different programmes (Eco, Comfort, Dynamic). You can even tackle frighteningly steep dirt roads and wade through 50-cm deep puddles, thanks to the terrain technology bestowed upon this Jag by sister brand Land Rover. It’s not because it’s electric that it can’t get its hands dirty.
Clever navigation to manage range
Managing the range is an essential part of living the electric life. In theory, the 36 ‘shoebox’ battery modules containing a total of 432 pouch cells give you 480 km of range when they are fully charged. That’s WLTP, not NEDC, and indeed a new record. The Jaguar averages 21 kWh/100 km under WLTP conditions. Our pace and the Algarvian terrain were hardly ‘average’, resulting in a not very representative 35 kWh/100 km and 260 km of range.
Much depends on the amount of regeneration, of course. Jaguar offers two brake levels: high and low. The latter one makes sense on motorways, the former one if you drive in stop-and-go traffic – or on curvy roads, like we did. You hardly ever touch the brake pedal. But how to make sure you will reach your destination with some juice left? Jaguar has introduced AI in its navigation system. Once you have set your destination, it will calculate and indicate the range at various points on the route, based on your driving style, traffic conditions and the driving mode selected. Very handy, indeed. Jaguar's Touch Pro Duo is not an example of intuitive operation, though.
A true gentleman
As you would expect, the I-Pace is thrilling to drive. It steers precisely, contains body roll very well and produces more than enough g-forces. Even when pushed to the limit, it behaves like a true gentleman. It is no lightweight, though. When you are diving into corners, you feel that the 2.1 tonnes want to keep on going forward. The mechanical brakes could do with more bite in such cases. When driven with respect for the passengers’ wellbeing, this Jag pampers its occupants with a high level of comfort.
The engineers have done a splendid job in terms of NVH. JLR says this is the most rigid car they have ever built and we had no reason to doubt that. The quality of the performance seats (optional) is exceptional, even though the seatbacks are surprisingly thin. That leaves even more space for the rear occupants, who can stretch their legs thanks to the nearly 3-metre long wheelbase. The glass roof makes the cabin very airy, but it cannot be opened, unfortunately. The fit and finish on the I-Pace clearly reach a higher level than the F-Pace.
Living the e-life
JLR provides a Remote app to climatize the car and precondition the battery (giving you a maximum of range), to programme the charging (timing and maximum charge status) and to verify the car’s status. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. It is not going as far as Nissan or Tesla as to providing extra services and products to create an EV eco system. To charge, you get a universal mode 2 cable (type 2 plug) for domestic sockets and a mode 3 cable (type 2 plug) for public stations.
The I-Pace’s integrated 7-kW single phase AC charger allows you to add 35 km of range per charging hour, provided that you have a Wallbox installed. A standard household socket tops up the battery with maximum 11 km per hour. If need be, you can charge the battery up to 80 percent in just 40 minutes with a 100-kW public fast charger. Most European public DC fast chargers, however, work at 50 kW. That means that one hour of charging at such a station gives you up to 270 km of range. Jaguar is not part of the Ionity consortium (BMW, VW Group, Ford and Daimler), but Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported in April that talks are underway.
The €65k (excluding VAT) entry-level S model does not have the high-speed AEB (only AEB City), electric folding mirrors, a power tailgate, adjustable lumbar support, leather upholstery or an adaptive cruise control, which is why most customers will probably go for the SE (€72k) or HSE (€77k). At €75k excluding VAT, the SE model with a few necessary options (metallic paint, Driver Assist Pack, DAB+) seems to offer the most value for money.
The general factory warranty covers 3 years or 100,000 km and Jaguar will fix the drive battery if its capacity drops below 70 percent (63 kWh) within 8 years or 160,000 km. The chances of that happening are quite slim, the I-Pace’s chief engineer reassured us. Maintenance and ‘fuel’ costs are minimal, but the special (i.e. expensive) tyres and plentiful torque could mean a higher than average rubber budget. As to residual values: JLR seems very confident. Let’s hope the leasing companies feel the same way. They should, once they have driven this electrifying challenger.
- Fit and finish, NVH control, interior ambiance and space
- TCO, pricing compared to Tesla
- Performance, grip, handling, comfortable yet dynamic (air suspension)
- 350-400 km real range
- Complex infotainment, too many menus, not always intuitive, outdated map graphics
- More performance than really eco oriented
- No real eco materials used (except for optional cloth trim)
- No EV supporting services/products yet