JAGUAR I-PACE: THE DE­FIN­I­TIVE EIGHT-PAGE VERDICT

This is among the first lux­ury EVS from an es­tab­lished brand. Can it top­ple Tesla?

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

MODEL TESTED JAGUAR I-PACE EV400 S Price £63,495 Power 394bhp Torque 512lb ft 0-60mph 4.5sec 30-70mph in fourth na Fuel econ­omy 545Wh/mile CO2 emis­sions 0g/km 70-0mph 46.7m

Could this week’s road test sub­ject be the most sig­nif­i­cant new car to leave the halls of a Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer since the Mclaren F1? Don’t bet against it. For one thing, it is re­mark­able that the Jaguar I-pace – not just a new Jaguar but a new breed of Jaguar, re­mem­ber – was con­ceived in a mere four years. Re­gard­less of our verdict, this is a coura­geous pro­ject from a mar­que whose total an­nual sales amount to a frac­tion of what bighit­ting Audi, BMW and Mercedesbenz can muster. De­spite the greater R&D bud­gets of its ri­vals, Jaguar has be­come the first es­tab­lished lux­ury car brand to bring its ex­per­tise to bear on a zero-emis­sions prod­uct.

The cu­ri­ous para­dox is that the I-pace is si­mul­ta­ne­ously the most limited and un­re­stricted Jaguar yet built. On one hand, to ful­fil its po­ten­tial it re­lies on the scope of a charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture out­side of Jaguar’s di­rect con­trol, and own­ers will need to plan ac­tiv­i­ties in a way they sim­ply wouldn’t need to if they owned a petrol-pow­ered car. On the other, this op­u­lently sleek, long-range elec­tric car is claimed to ac­cel­er­ate to 60mph in less than five sec­onds but is un­com­monly spa­cious within ow­ing to its clev­erly pack­aged pow­er­train. It can also per­form soft­ware up­dates ‘over the air’; can wade to a depth that’s typ­i­cally the pre­serve of pur­pose-built off-road­ers; is clever enough to save bat­tery charge by only ac­ti­vat­ing air vents for the seats in which pas­sen­gers are ac­tu­ally sit­ting; and should, claims Jaguar, set new bench­marks on cross­over SUV han­dling with per­fect weight dis­tri­bu­tion, a low cen­tre of grav­ity and a fo­cus on feel. Early drives have sug­gested its four-wheel-drive pow­er­train also has huge po­ten­tial off the beaten track, though that is to be fol­lowed up on an­other oc­ca­sion.

On this one, our aim is to dis­cover whether the I-pace is good enough for you to put that Tesla Model S or­der on hold; or maybe even if its ver­sa­til­ity and dy­namism can con­vince us to give up hy­dro­car­bons al­to­gether.

DE­SIGN AND EN­GI­NEER­ING

Jaguar claims the I-pace takes aes­thetic in­spi­ra­tion from the C-X75 con­cept. You might won­der what an elec­tric fam­ily car could pos­si­bly have in com­mon with a tur­bine-pow­ered hy­brid hy­per­car, but sim­i­lar­i­ties do ex­ist. Both fea­ture cab-for­ward pro­por­tions, and both have sim­i­lar broad, Tar­mac-sniff­ing snouts and a com­men­su­rately low, vented bon­net.

The rear of the I-pace is more of a de­par­ture, be­ing tall and squared off for a com­mend­ably low drag co­ef­fi­cient of 0.29. In­ci­den­tally, it’s Jaguar de­sign di­rec­tor Ian Cal­lum’s least favourite el­e­ment, al­though to our eyes lends the car a rak­ishly ro­bust, su­per-dis­tinc­tive and ap­peal­ing vis­ual char­ac­ter.

But how to clas­sify the I-pace? It is ex­actly a cen­time­tre longer than an XE and yet its wheel­base eclipses that of the XF mid-size saloon. It presents as an SUV but sits con­spic­u­ously low to the ground by the stan­dards of such cars. It’s also su­per­car-wide, at 2139mm, in­clud­ing mir­rors.

Un­der­neath the alu­minium body­work re­sides an elec­tric

WE LIKE

Gen­uinely in­no­va­tive de­sign Brings main­stream cred­i­bil­ity to lux­ury EV mar­ket Re­spon­sive, ac­ces­si­ble, seam­less per­for­mance

WE DON’T LIKE

Lack­lus­tre in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem Lack of 100kw charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture In­tru­sive sta­bil­ity con­trol

pow­er­train of pre­dictable ar­chi­tec­ture. A ‘skate­board’ bat­tery pack (423 lithium ion cells, liq­uid cooled) of 90kwh is spread be­low the cabin floor and sits en­tirely within the car’s wheel­base for a claimed 50:50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion (53:47 as tested). It drives a lightweight per­ma­nent­mag­net elec­tric mo­tor on each axle. Each drives through a sin­gle-speed epicyclic trans­mis­sion and open dif­fer­en­tial (there is brake-based torque vec­tor­ing in lieu of a lock­ing diff) for max­i­mum com­pact­ness.

At low speeds, the I-pace is pow­ered by just one of its mo­tors, though on our EV400 test car, both can com­bine to de­liver 394bhp and 512lb ft through all four wheels, and a claimed 0-60mph time of 4.5sec – the lat­ter com­ing de­spite a claimed 2133kg kerb weight, which pre­sented as 2236kg on the scales in the case of our test car. And when we tested a Model S with pre­cisely the same bat­tery ca­pac­ity in 2016? It weighed an al­most iden­ti­cal 2230kg.

Range for the I-pace is quoted at 292 miles on the new WLTP lab test cy­cle, with the bat­tery ca­pa­ble of charg­ing to 80% in 40 min­utes from a 100kw DC rapid charger. A full charge from a 7kw home wall­box takes a frac­tion un­der 13 hours.

Thus far, the de­ci­sions have been made for you. That changes when it comes to the sus­pen­sion, which op­er­ates through an en­cour­ag­ingly con­ven­tional dou­ble wish­bone front and in­te­gral-link rear de­sign. As stan­dard, the I-pace is equipped with a pas­sive steel coil sus­pen­sion set-up. Adap­tive air sus­pen­sion (it low­ers the car beyond 65mph for a more aero­dy­namic stance and can raise it at low speeds for greater ground clear­ance) and adap­tive dampers (for an even more driver-con­fig­urable drive) are of­fered as op­tions – and both were fit­ted to our test car.

IN­TE­RIOR

“The best Jaguar cabin in years” was how one tester de­scribed the I-pace’s in­te­rior, a claim that – for the most part – is en­tirely war­ranted. Ma­te­rial se­lec­tion is key here. Gloss black and metal pan­elling sit along­side leatheruphol­stered sur­faces and slick dig­i­tal touch­screens for a sense of slick modern so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

How­ever, if you look a lit­tle closer, there are one or two ar­eas where Jaguar might have done a lit­tle bet­ter. The tray that cov­ers the cuphold­ers in the cen­tre con­sole, for in­stance, is made from a kind of plas­tic that has no place in a car cost­ing up­wards of £60,000, and there are one or two other ma­te­rial low points among the car’s mi­nor swtichgear. Th­ese

Our test car came in en­try-level ‘S’ trim, with op­tional 20in wheels (£2400). The stan­dard 18s are the best op­tion in terms of ride qual­ity but leave the I-pace look­ing a lit­tle un­der-wheeled.

Less (and per­haps more, if JLR’S SV0 per­for­mance di­vi­sion be­comes in­volved) pow­er­ful ver­sions of the I-pace will surely fol­low, but for now this 394bhp EV400 is the only one on sale.

Elec­tric Jag has nu­mer­ous de­sign el­e­ments that re­duce drag, not least a dip­ping spoiler mounted on the trail­ing edge of the roof. Cut­ting drag is also the rea­son why the rear of the car is so high.

LED head­lights are stan­dard across the range and fea­ture the ‘J’ graph­ics com­mon to all Jaguar mod­els. Top-end HSE cars get Ma­trix LED head­lights, which can se­lec­tively dip their beams.

Un­like Tesla’s up­dated Model S, the I-pace re­tains a grille in the style of a com­bus­tion-en­gined car. De­spite what it seems, the grille doesn’t ad­mit any air and its pur­pose is aes­thetic only.

Charg­ing port is po­si­tioned be­hind the front pas­sen­ger-side wheel and caters for a Type 2 ‘Men­nekes’ ca­ble for use at home and a CCS ca­ble for rapid charg­ing at, for ex­am­ple, ser­vice sta­tions.

The rear dif­fuser and a flat un­der­body de­sign com­bine to quickly dis­pel air from un­der­neath the car, im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency and in­creas­ing driv­ing range.

Slim­line door han­dles sit flush with the alu­minium body­work when the car is mov­ing but pop out when re­quired. It’s a trick bor­rowed from Tesla.

C-X75 con­cept in­spired the I-pace’s looks

The boot floor is prac­ti­cally flush with the open­ing, so there’s no mas­sive lip over which you would oth­er­wise have to lift heavy items.

Syn­thetic leather-up­hol­stered sports seats are stan­dard, but our test car came with 14-way, heated and cooled ‘per­for­mance’ seats for a con­sid­er­able £3940.

Typ­i­cal leg room 760mm The I-pace’s clever pack­ag­ing means that de­spite hav­ing a rea­son­able com­pact ex­te­rior, there are still gen­uinely im­pres­sive lev­els of leg room in the back.

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