If numerous social media scandals, production woes and the general stresses of being a real-life weren’t enough for Elon Musk to deal with, he now faces seriously stiff competition in the luxury electric vehicle market the he once reigned over.
Where Tesla was the go-to badge for customers wanting luxury motoring without the associated fuel bills, the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz will soon offer viable electric alternatives that not only compete on price, but also come with bags of auto-making experience that only the big brands can offer.
But in a surprise move, Jaguar – and not its 4×4 specialist sibling Land Rover – was first to reveal a Tesla-rivalling SUV earlier this year that boasted an all-electric range of 298-miles, cutting-edge styling and the sort of interior tech that leaves gadget fans salivating.
We’ve spent some time getting to know the Big Cat’s latest piece of kit and we can reveal that it is a little gem. Here’s why…
The beauty of the electric car is that it doesn’t require anywhere near as many moving parts, oily bits, shafts and fuel lines found on more conventional internal combustion engined machinery. This affords designers an additional element of artistic freedom and Ian Callum, Jaguar’s chief scribbler, went to town on what he calls his ‘cab forward’ design.
As a result, the I-Pace features a fairly avant-garde short bonnet, long wheelbase and low ride height, meaning it skirts the worlds of SUV, coupe and sports car, while not really adhering to the design conventions of any of these categories.
Some will argue that the I-Pace isn’t a traditionally beautiful thing to behold but it is certainly striking, and when riding on the optional 22-inch wheels and sporting a dazzling black paint job, it doesn’t fail to have passers-by pointing.
Inside, there’s plenty more to get excited about (we’ll get on to the tech but later), with Jaguar eschewing typical luxury leather and other anti-vegan materials for the impossibly unpronounceable Kvadrat, a smart textile alternative to animal hide, and fabrics featuring recycled materials.
There’s also lots of space inside, with the all-electric powertrain leaving plenty of head and legroom for taller occupants, while the optional panoramic sunroof lets in plenty of light. It feels airy, modern and proves and extremely comfortable place to while away the miles.
It’s impossible to talk about a new electric car without reeling off a load of numbers, so here goes: the 90kW battery in the I-Pace is connected to two powerful electric motors (one at each axle), which means it’s capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 124mph.
The whopping battery pack means achieving a 0-80 per cent charge takes around 40 minutes from a super fast 100kW station, of which only Tesla owners currently enjoy, while a common 7kW wall box charger at home will easily dispatch of a full charge overnight.
But leaving the binary aside for one moment, the I-Pace also offers an exciting ride – the all-wheel-drive system offering bags of grip, while the punchy electric powertrain delivers the sort of acceleration that’s typically reserved for sports cars.
If anyone tries to tell you EVs are dull and boring, they have clearly never driven I-Pace. After all, it has been created by a company that has a long history in making sports cars, which means this electric run-around is also happy to be pushed hard through some of your favourite B-roads.
Plus, Jaguar Land Rover has a pretty impressive history of fashioning off-road technology, so Jaguar’s electric SUV can also tackle some fairly rough terrain – the twin electric motors allowing for some nifty all-wheel-drive action.
If we had to pick some holes (and we really are being pedantic here), the steering feels quite weighty at low speeds compared to your run-of-the-mill hatchback and the brake pedal could do with being slightly more progressive. But that’s likely down to the regenerative technology, which tops up the batteries when coasting and under braking and adds all-important miles back into the battery pack.
Although not as immediately impactful as Tesla’s giant iPad infotainment system, Jaguar deserves credit for sticking true to the concept car, both inside and out, in the production version of its I-Pace.
The bold exterior lines are complimented by a new Touch Pro Duo system inside, which features a 10-inch touchscreen on the upper deck and a 5-inch display on the lower portion. Anyone lucky enough to spend some time in a Range Rover Velar will likely recognise the system, which features two ‘floating’ dials on the lower screen that take care of heating and ventilation, while the upper handles maps and media.
The screen-fest continues in front of the driver, as a 12.3-inch TFT display sits in the place of old-school instrument binnacles and can be adapted to offer read outs of almost every data field known to mankind.
As you can imagine, most buttons and dials have been lost to make way for this sleek, screen-filled surface, which is a blessing but sometimes a curse. Routing through the myriad touchscreen menus can be fiddly and time-consuming, while Jag’s sat nav system feels a little slow to react and compute, despite being cleverly adapted for this model to show nearby charging stations, as well as give accurate remaining electric range information based on topography and driving style.
Another technical highlight includes Amazon Alexa integration, which makes it possible to control a range of IoT devices from the car, or ask your Echo how much range is left before stepping out of the house.
Plus, there’s smartphone connectivity in the form of a Jaguar App that allows for the car to be located, locked and unlocked remotely, while details on remaining battery range and assistance in locating nearby charging points is also taken care of.
Jaguar I-Pace Verdict
At £58,995 (including the government’s UK plug-in car grant), the I-Pace isn’t exactly cheap but it feels like a lot of car for the money.
Not content with simply making an electric vehicle that can get from A to B with minimal fuss (and fuel bills), Jaguar has created something desirable, fun to drive and impressively capable when the going gets tough.
With Audi and Mercedes-Benz recently announcing their own all-electric SUVs, Tesla’s competition is set to really heat up over the coming year, but the I-Pace can happily claim to be the first mainstream brand to give the Silicon Valley tech whiz kids something to worry about.
|Range||470 km battery-only|
|Dimensions||4,682mm L x 1,895mm W x 1,558-1,565mm H|
|Battery charge time (dedicated wall box)||0-80% in 10 hours|
|Cargo volume||559 to 577 L, 1,445 to 1,453 L with seat area|