2018 Jaguar I-Pace Review
Paul Horrell’s first drive 2018 Jaguar I-Pace review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
IN A NUTSHELL Silent-rocketship acceleration in a roomy and smartly furnished family vehicle makes a real luxury experience. Provided you can recharge it anyway.
2018 Jaguar I-Pace 400 (European spec)
Price $140,800+ORC Warranty 3 years/100,000km Engine 2x electric motors Power 294kW Torque 696Nm at 0rpm Transmission single-speed Drive four-wheel drive Body 4682mm (l); 2011mm (w exc mirrors); 2139mm (w inc mirrors); 1565mm (h) Turning circle 11.6m Towing weight NAkg (braked), NAkg (unbraked) Kerb weight 2133kg Seats 5 Battery 90kWh (gross) 84.7kWh (useable) Spare Space saver Consumption 21.2kWh/100km WLTP, 480km range WLTP
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JAGUAR HAS beaten all the other existing luxury carmakers to getting its full electric vehicle into production. Many more will follow in the next couple of years. They’re all ages behind Tesla of course, but that’s another story.
What is the Jaguar I-Pace?
The I-Pace is a very different shape from cars designed around the petrol engine and transmission. The front and rear motor/transmission units are little bigger than buckets, and the battery is just a flat slab under the whole cabin. That’s a layout which will be common to most electric vehicles in future.
So the wheelbase is long and the overhangs short, leaving loads of room in a car that’s only the length of a mid-size saloon. Those proportions make it look pretty striking, and its subtle creases catch the light more interestingly than the bloated-looking blob that’s a Tesla Model X.
Worst thing about the batteries is their weight. To offset it, Jaguar, like Tesla, uses aluminium for the body and chassis. The company has lots of experience with that material already. Overall, 2.1 tonnes isn’t that crazy, not for a car that’s got as much room and performance as say a Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
And the critical EV question: range? The official test number is 480km on the new Worldwide Light-Vehicle Harmonised Procedure (WLTP to its mates). That figure is supposed to be a whole lot more realistic then the old test. But even so, our experience is you’ll be lucky to get 400km at a steady 100km/h cruise with the A/C on. Once you start using the copious power, all bets are off.
For charging, it accepts the increasingly common CCS system for DC input. This bypasses the vehicle’s onboard rectifier/charger and hits the battery directly with the DC it needs. Right now those DC charge points are 50kW, which charges it in an hour and a half or so.
In a very few years some will rise to 100kW, so the Jaguar will go from zero to 80-percent battery change in about 40 minutes. Useful for long journeys if those chargers lie along your route – you should be able to get anywhere along the coast from Cairns to Adelaide.
But if you have to use AC charging, its onboard charger/rectifier is just 7kW. I don’t think that’s enough for such a big battery. It becomes a 12-13 hour job to recharge on AC at 7kW, even if you find an AC plug-in point that can theoretically go faster (some are 22kW). Still, if you commute and home-charge, you’ll be just fine if you get a 7kW point installed at either of those places.
And anyway, you’ll never run it right to flat. Trust me, seeing the range melt away toward zero is hot-sweat scary.
What’s the interior like?
Just as you’d hope, this new-generation Jaguar’s cabin is like a Jaguar’s, but roomier and more modern. The leap ahead from the conventional E-Pace and letdown-quality F-Pace is as welcome as it is striking.
Our test car had optional sports bucket seats, multi-way adjustable. Given the I-Pace’s cornering power, they’re not superfluous. They’re also heated and fan-cooled, and that’s particularly relevant here because using just the seat to change your body temperature hits the battery less hard than using the whole-cabin climate control.
Yet even there, the Jaguar has answers. There are weight detectors in the passenger and rear seats. If they recognise they’re empty, the climate-control automatically cuts supply towards those areas of the cabin. And the heater is a low-energy heat pump that efficiently extracts thermal energy from the electronics, an the surrounding air.
The rear seats have the same kind of legroom and head clearance as you’d find in an SUV a size bigger – usefully more than Jag’s own F-Pace. Console boxes are roomy because there’s no transmission tunnel, and that also allows under-seat hideaways for laptop-size stuff. With six USBs and three 12V outlets around the cabin, there shouldn’t be any arguments about powering devices as they connect to the built-in wi-fi hotspot.
There’s a handy 656 litre boot, and another 27 litres in the front.
The dash on our HSE-spec version is clad in nicely stitched leather. You might not expect wood in such a future-focussed vehicle. Yet the broad slices of polished lumber on the dash and doors don’t only raise the ambience, they look right at home. That’s the Brits for you.
Alongside the veneer, you’ve got arrays of high-resolution screens.
First up, the driver’s instruments, configurable in all the usual ways – speed, battery level, predicted range and live energy use are always there, but you can choose their form and arrangement.
Then you can leave space ahead of you for map, trip data or entertainment. But you can also opt for those things in greater detail on the upper centre touchscreen. Or use the touchscreen for other apps around the energy supply and efficiency data.
The smaller lower screen configures the climate, and it’s super-easy to use because there are two solid scroll wheels for left and right temperature, (push-twist) seat heat/cooling or (pull-twist) fan speed. Those knobs have little mini-screens within, so you get a context-dependent set of markings. Oh and by the way if you’re a set-and-forget type with the climate, you can put entertainment or phone onto that lower screen.
It’s all very attractive, logical and easy to learn and use. More so than Audi’s new three-screen setup. The only major prat-fall is you’ve got nowhere to rest the heel of your hand to steady it while making selections with your fingers. I found myself resting my hand below the screen and activating the sensitive hazard-flasher button. Or jabbing in the wrong place if the road was bumpy. Styling seems to have trumped function here.
Oh and there’s no CarPlay or Android Auto. Only a small set of slightly clunky Jaguar apps. Pur-leeese.
What’s it like on the road?
A turbocharged petrol SUV in its pomp can pull a lot of accelerative g. But you’ve got to wait. Floor the throttle, wait for a downchange or three, here comes the boost, and way-hey.
It’s not like that here. Mash the pedal and your head is smashed backward. Such is the immediacy, it’s like you haven’t actually asked for it yet. Any kind of savagery is scarier if it snaps at you after a calm. OK the Jag isn’t as savage as the fastest Teslas, but remember this is just the ‘base’ powertrain. Faster ones will surely come later.
You can drag-race pretty well anything. It’s 4.8 seconds for the 0-100km/h. But point is, while combustion cars are clutch-slipping and launch-controlling and making all manner of preparatory noise and smoke signals, you’ve already departed with zero fuss.
This is one amazing, captivating trick. But it’s not the only one. For the most part, it’s the silence and smoothness of electrical power that’s your friend. You might think you don’t notice the automatic gearshifts on your car, but trust me you notice when they’re absent. And in this single-speed electric car they are totally absent. Exactly what your foot asks for, is what it gets. Exactly when it asks for it.
So much so that I wish the accelerator pedal needed a harder push. It’s so light it’s tricky not to overdo the acceleration sometimes.
The brake pedal, sadly, is less of a precision instrument. It doesn’t act on the pads directly. It sends a retardation instruction to a computer that calculates how much it can get by regeneration and how much from the discs. Regeneration is when the motors are switched to generators, feeding energy back to the battery. Obviously that’s the preferable route, but sometimes it isn’t enough, so in that case the computer summons the discs.
That’s an insanely tricky ask. As with many EVs and hybrids, the Jaguar hasn’t got it nailed. Result is a slightly floppy and unnatural feel to the pedal. Full-bore stops are fine. But just easing your way down to the speed of the car in front, or gliding smoothly to an urban halt, isn’t always easy.
With a socking great battery very close to the ground, you’ve got a snake-low centre of gravity. So the I-Pace doesn’t roll much in corners. You’ve also got huge traction from the four-wheel-drive, and the immense electric torque, so it’ll also punch its way out of bends like a comet after the apex of its orbit.
If you absolutely lob it into and out of corners, you can feel the tyres working, though mostly through your bum rather than the rather dead (if accurate) steering wheel. On a greasy road you can play a little with the rear by braking deep or jumping early on the power. But really it just corners like it’s following a slot in the road.
So in the end, as a driving enthusiast I found it more impressive for its rate of progress going fast, and sublime ease going sensibly, than the sensations it tickled me with. No engine noise, no lairy handling.
The most impressive thing about the chassis is the ride. The adaptive air suspension is taut but never harsh or crashy. It eases off the sharp edges of big bumps, and glides over small ones. In that sense it’s far more fluent than a Tesla.
What about safety features?
As with any EV, you think about battery fires and water short-circuits. So does Jaguar of course, and has been furiously testing it, and making sure the battery isolates when anything untoward happens. Anyway, right now you’re happy to drive around with a big tank of explosive liquid. I saw an I-Pace driven through water well above the battery level and it came through smiling.
No NCAP tests yet, but the airbag count is six.
All I-Pace versions get lane keep assist, blind-spot assist and forward emergency braking. For reversing there’s a camera, and boy you need it. The rear window is tiny.
Our test HSE model adds an enhanced driver assistance pack, with radar cruise control and active steering assist, which works well and reduces fatigue on long highway drives. Which is good because, trust me, range anxiety is debilitating. Higher-speed emergency braking is enabled by that pack’s better sensors.
A superb head-up display is also optional, much clearer than the horrid orange low-res matrix of previous Jaguars.
So, what do we think?
Jaguar has throughly delivered on the battery-vehicle front, with gorgeous smooth motivation and a decent range. Our only reservation is the power of the onboard charger.
Now, in much of the country the charging infrastructure isn’t what the car deserves. But if you don’t live there and don’t intend to go there, don’t let that inhibit you.
Jaguar has cleverly utilised the morphology of the electric package, giving loads of passenger space in a short vehicle footprint. The designers rightly decided to make an attractive feature of these new proportions, rather than building a long dummy bonnet to pretend there’s a thundering great engine up front.
Climb in and you’ve got a nicely finished and very modern cabin. Loads of helpful technology, too.
The chassis dynamics are another win – it’s a more taut, energetic vehicle through corners than other crossovers (including Jaguar’s own F-Pace actually.) And the ride’s fluent with it.
It’d be easy to say it’s a good first effort on an all-new platform and new propulsion. But it doesn’t really need qualifying like that. It’s a good car full stop.