► New Jaguar i-Pace driven
► It's Jag's first electric car
► Full review, specs and prices
Tesla got here first, but Jaguar is the first mainstream maker to launch a full-size premium electric car. It’s called the i-Pace, and it still looks like a concept car – a radical cab-forward design mixes traces of SUV with cues from the still-born CX-75 supercar, and design director Ian Callum says he’s proud that his latest design defies easy categorisation.
We’ve already driven various Jaguar i-Pace prototypes (see below), but this is our first drive of a production car. It’s priced from £63,495 in the UK, excluding government incentives, and is on sale from June 2018.
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Jaguar i-Pace review: what’s the tech?
The i-Pace is 94% aluminium, and uses the double-wishbone front and Integral Link rear suspension that’s familiar from the also-aluminium XE, XF and F-Pace. It’s said to be Jaguar’s most torsionally rigid structure at 36kn per degree, and has a 50:50 weight distribution. A 90kWH lithium-ion battery containing 432 pouch cells sits between the front and rear wheels – this gets an eight-year warranty, and i-Pace requires a service every two years or 21,000 miles.
Twin synchronous permanent magnet electric motors provide power, with one at each axle for permanent all-wheel drive. The transmission is a single-speed epicyclic unit.
Jaguar claims 395bhp, 513lb ft, and zero to 62mph in 4.8sec. More crucially, it also claims a range of 298 miles, and charge times from 0-80% in 40 minutes at a rapid 100kW DC public charger, with AC wallbox charging (7kW, the kind of thing you’d do at home) taking ten hours. You can use smart charging to replenish the battery during low-tariff electricity hours, while pre-conditioning allows you to cool or heat the car while it’s still on charge, saving battery.
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What’s the Jaguar i-Pace interior like?
Climb in the i-Pace’s cabin and the floor initially feels a little higher than you perhaps expect – there’s a big battery beneath the floor, remember – and you might instinctively try to lower the seats a fraction more than they’ll actually go. If this is noticeable at first, it soon feels normal. The seats are good – either comfort-focussed standard chairs, or sexier looking F-type seats that are firmer on your lower back, but cup your body more securely. You can nit-pick over some of the plastics and there was a buzz on our F-type seat trim, but overall this is a nice-looking, well put together interior.
Despite the lack of a conventional powertrain, there’s still a large centre console lurking between the seats. It’s hard to see, but it actually floats above the floor, and it’s there, explains Callum, to house the HVAC – heating, ventilation, air-con – system. It also incorporates a twin-touchscreen system like the one first seen in the Range Rover Velar. The upper screen is for infotainment functions including sat-nav, music and telephone; the lower screen controls climate functions, and incorporates rotary dials for tactile feedback. Mostly, it’s quick and intuitive and works very well.
The centre console is raked aggressively towards the windscreen, and flows into a dash that stretches far out to the distance. The windscreen rakes equally aggressively in the opposite direction – forward visibility is good, but that short, low bonnetline means you don’t see the front corners of the i-Pace. The reversing camera is essential – the sloping roofline and thick D pillars mean rear visibility isn’t great in a car park, though the mirrors give you all the information you need on the road.
There’s ample space in the rear seats. I’m 6ft 1in, and found a good inch of kneeroom and headroom when sitting behind myself – i-Pace is 50mm shorter than Jag’s F-Pace SUV, but there’s 130mm more wheelbase here at almost three metres long, and the front occupants sit well forward, freeing up space in the rear. There’s a tiny froot (front boot), and a long if not particularly deep actual boot with 656 litres of lugging capacity. Apparently you get two sets of charging cables – a three-pin charger, and one for rapid charging, though neither were in the test cars.
How does the Jaguar i-Pace feel on the road?
Press ‘D’ and capacitive switches on the relatively small diameter steering wheel illuminate, so too the digital dash. It sounds silent, but outside there’s a low hum like overhead power lines, and a soft beep like an electric heartbeat when you reverse. The throttle is sensitive but not overly aggressive, so smoothly moving away is easy. Other than the expected silence, three things quickly stand out on the road: the steering has quite a substantial feel – not too heavy, but there’s certainly a chunkiness to the way it moves.
On optional air suspension with adaptive dampers and 20-inch alloys – coil springs and passive dampers are optional in the UK, and you can choose from 18-inch to 22-inch alloys – the ride is superb, feeling cushioned, controlled and luxuriously relaxing. It’s also easy to adapt to the ‘one-pedal driving’ that Jaguar hypes – backing off the throttle helps to re-generate the batteries thanks to negative torque through the electric motors, so you can drive without using the brake if you plan ahead. The braking effect is strong, and you can reduce it by selecting the ‘low’ setting, but it’s calibrated so sweetly and it feels right to try to maximise driving range that I left it on.
On the motorway, tyre- and wind noise is impressively low even at quite high cruising speeds, and the i-Pace is comically quick – it just lunges away on a hit of instant torque, leaving other traffic as specs in the distance, and continues to accelerate up to an invisible wall of air at an indicated 130mph. In Comfort mode, there’s a kind of synthesized jet-engine whine that rises in line with the speed, but switch to Dynamic and it intensifies; it’s alien and odd, but does add a sense of drama that’s in proportion to the speed, risk and excitement playing out through the windscreen.
Does the i-Pace work on the twisty stuff too?
It’s actually very impressive. This is a heavy car at 2.2 tonnes, but it doesn’t feel it, partly because such a large portion of the weight is mounted low down. The steering is quick and accurate, the body nicely controlled, and there’s both high grip when you carve into a corner off-throttle, and huge traction when all 513lb ft pings you out, with just the occasional sense of the front tyres scrabbling to deliver the frantic forward momentum.
There’s sport in trying to drive quickly without touching the brake but using the re-gen effect instead. And when you do brake, the transition between regenerative braking and traditional discs and pads is again impressively calibrated.
Dynamic mode is accessed through a slightly fiddly interface. It makes the steering even meatier and keeps the body under tighter control, but the serene ride still impresses, even over particularly poor surfaces. You can induce understeer if you accelerate hard and early in a tighter corner, but that’s more clumsiness on the driver’s part than a particular dynamic flaw. With a passenger on-board and an empty mountain road ahead, the limitation becomes how sympathetic you’re feeling to your co-pilot’s stomach rather than how capable the i-Pace is – the speed, lateral g and traction can be pretty stomach-churning if you exploit it all.
Don’t suppose you drove the Jag i-Pace off-road or on track?
Both actually, so props to Jaguar given most customers won’t do either. The i-Pace proved a lot of fun at Portimao race circuit, particularly its instant speed out of tighter turns, the way such a heavy car can stop so well with only relatively modest brakes – that re-gen effect again comes into play – and even an adjustable balance that allows you to induce just a little off-throttle oversteer and tuck you into the apex. Instant torque out of tight turns can feel a little binary and clumsy, but for an eco warrior with no ambitions for lap times, the i-Pace proves mischievous good fun on a circuit.
Jag also put together an off-road route that included wading along a rocky stream (a 500mm wading depth is claimed), a crawl up a steep, dusty hillside, and some tricky descents. Helped by the optional air suspension that can raise as well as lower its ride height and All-Terrain Progress Control that maintains a constant speed without the driver touching the pedals, the electric Jag just wafted over it all. And on unsealed roads, the i-Pace’s calm ride made for ridiculously serene and rapid progress. Impressive.
Jaguar i-Pace verdict
The Jag i-Pace represents a huge achievement, from its avant-garde design to its cutting-edge engineering to its rewarding dynamics and high levels of interior refinement and space. It could well merit the full five stars, but it seems sensible to wait until we’ve lived with one in the UK, charged it overnight at home and in quick bursts at service stations and simply got our heads round it in daily use to commit to that. For now, on the basis of how it looks and drives and feels, it scores an extremely solid four.
Read on for our earlier drives of prototype Jaguar i-Paces
A brief go in the Jaguar i-Pace at the Geneva motor show: Phil McNamara reports
► Jag i-Pace driven at Geneva
► Our editor-in-chief has a spin
► 300+-mile range, 4.0sec 0-60mph
It steers like a Jag! That’s my abiding impression from driving Jaguar’s first electric car, the new i-Pace, during almost certainly the shortest test drive in my 20-year career.
We’re at a driving centre under the flightpath of Geneva airport, queueing to drive Jag’s EV crossover on a piece of tarmac the size of a football pitch. It’s a gymkhana, but instead of Ken Block flaying his Hoonicorn Mustang through a relentless dance of drifts, doughnuts and tyre smoke to the sound of an aggrieved V8, this soundtrack features only the occasional chirrup of tyres: the all-wheel drive i-Pace is a near-silent EV, naturally.
Admittedly, Jaguar has designed a suite of electric car sounds for the i-Pace, giving feedback to both driver and unwitting pedestrians. But these are switched off, and the car is in normal Comfort mode for this three-minute test drive. Dotted around the ‘circuit’ are pairs of smart cones assembled in gates, whose lights change colour to direct you. The task is simple: aim for a green-lit gate, keep an eye out for the blue-lit cones which designate your next target – and hope that the landing lights for the neighbouring airport aren’t a mix of blue and green...
The smart cones go green and we’re off. The i-Pace has a near 200hp motor on both the front and rear axle, enabling four-wheel drive. Given electric motors produce nigh-on max torque from zero revs, the i-Pace sails off the line eagerly. The aluminium Jaguar claims a 0-62mph sprint of 4.8sec, and it’s already outdragged the Tesla Model X P100D in a 0-60mph-0 test, assisted by its 376kg weight advantage.
The Jag’s 2133 kilo kerbweight enters my mind as we pirouette through the cones, but the i-Pace simply doesn’t feel that heavy. It’s not beset by bodyroll, and as the gymkhana unfolds, it’s clear the i-Pace summons plenty of grip allowing you to push hard in a turn, confident that it won’t let go and deposit you in the banks of snow doubling for a tyre wall. Jaguar refers to the i-Pace’s platform as a skateboard, with the 432 pouch cells of batteries mounted low in the chassis’ base. Weight distribution is 50:50, and the i-Pace feels inherently stable and well-planted.
Read more from the Geneva motor show
Like other electrified cars, the i-Pace features regenerative braking, where the electric motor acts as a generator before the friction brakes kick in. This i-Pace is in high-regenerative mode: step off the accelerator, and the Jag slows noticeably but smoothly. You can switch it off if you prefer a more conventional braking effect, but engineers reckon this single pedal driving functionality works for 98% of braking eventualities.
It’s an addictive way of driving, a little like controlling a video game, and quite different to the internal combustion engined, Jaguar norm. But there’s one critical interface where the i-Pace feels like a typical Jag: steering calibration. The rack’s weighting feels spot-on, not too light so it feels vague, not too heavy to feel leaden. Jink the wrists and the front end turns crisply, add lock and the i-Pace carves turns progressively. First impressions are of quite splendid steering.
Of course, the drive is over too quickly, and we’ve barely touched 40mph. Detailed impressions will have to wait until May 2018, when the i-Pace will finally be put to test on Europe’s roads. But one thing’s for sure: Jaguar’s EV crossover has stolen a march on the traditional premium car makers – and it’s shaping up very nicely indeed.
We've had various brief drives in prototypes already. Read on to see how the Jaguar i-Pace drives in an Arctic winter
Ice can be a problem for all cars, but for electric cars like the all-new i-Pace it poses an even greater threat. EVs rely on power from batteries, which are essentially chemical reactions – and a simple grasp of GCSE Chemistry will tell you they’re vastly influenced by temperature.
It’s an issue that electric cars already face. Don’t believe us? Head over to the Tesla website, and you’ll see that temperature is a major factor when calculating range. The lower the temperature, the fewer the miles you’ll get from your EV.
This variable range effect isn’t too bad for EV owners in countries with milder climates, but in those with colder ones it can have a serious effect.
The Jaguar i-Pace has now been unveiled: get the full story here
So how do you ensure customers around the world get the same projected 300-mile range from their electric SUV? If you’re Jaguar, you design a system that keeps the batteries at their optimum temperature at all times, and then you test it in one of the coldest places on Earth.
To find out just how Jaguar manages to do it, we drove the i-Pace at Jaguar Land Rover’s cold-weather test facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, where temperatures plummet as low as -40°C.
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Jaguar i-Pace review: the tech
But first the tech. Lithium-ion batteries need to be kept at the temperature of a warm bath, and the i-Pace uses a mixture of heating and clever thermal diversions to keep them at their sweet spot. The car's air-conditioning unit and heater do most of the heavy lifting, cooling or warming the batteries to the correct temperature, when needed.
The i-Pace is also able to divert waste heat to the batteries, saving energy on heating in the process. What's more, the Jag can heat or pre-condition its batteries when it's being charged too, saving power for when you’re on your way.
As you’d expect from an EV, these systems are entirely controlled by the car’s ECU and software, though unlike Tesla, Jaguar says it’s not looking at updating the firmware anytime soon.
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What’s the Jaguar i-Pace like to drive?
Take a look at pictures of Jaguar’s all-electric i-Pace, and it looks like a tall, wide, SUV. But in reality it’s a far more low-slung, sporty affair than the odd jpg suggests. The i-Pace looks aggressive in the flesh, with minimal overhangs and a scuplted, sloping roof adding to its athletic stance. In person, the idea of Jaguar i-pace eTrophy series racing makes much more sense...
Driving an electric car on a frozen lake isn’t our usual review method, but it was still possible to take away some key details about the i-Pace. Once you jump into the car’s camouflaged cabin and get going, the Jaguar feels far more agile and responsive than its size suggests.
Steering is sharp, and around 400bhp from the Jaguar’s electric motor is more than enough to break traction on the ice and hold a drift. With traction control on, the i-Pace is able to keep you relatively straight, but turn everything off, and the linear power delivery makes sliding the i-Pace rather predictable. At this point the Jaguar's direct steering comes into its own, and after a little practice, it's possible to quickly and precisely put in just the right amount of lock to sustain some entertaining angles of drift.
In the short time we had with the car, body roll seemed well controlled for what is a heavy car – a huge benefit for a car of this size and height. Like most modern EVs, the i-Pace arranges its batteries along the bottom of the chassis – a bit like a skateboard – and that keeps the car’s centre of gravity low. The result? Less weight transfer, and far less rolling around.
It feels like a Jaguar, in other words.
Jaguar i-Pace review: what else do we need to know?
It’s clear the i-Pace has all the urgency of an EV, with very few of the drawbacks you'd usually get in this type of vehicle. With traction control on in precarious conditions, the i-Pace is tame, but turn off all the gizmos, and you’ll find the Jaguar is still able to provide enough feedback and response to make breaking traction and spinning up the rears enjoyable.
Yes, driving on ice remains a frustratingly narrow glimpse into the i-Pace's real talents. Although we'll have to drive the new Jaguar i-Pace on road later in 2018 for a definitive verdict, the omens are good at this stage.
We’ll update this review when we drive the i-Pace more. Read on for editor Ben Miller's assessment from his first ride
Five things we learned riding in the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace
One year ago, Jaguar’s i-Pace concept blindsided the automotive world, appearing without warning to banish the notion that the storied British marque – around which history can hang heavy like Dickensian fog – might be a little tardy to embrace the electric revolution. Instead it lifted the veil of secrecy on a progressively styled, pseudo-SUV EV with 4.0sec 0-60mph performance.
Now, as Jaguar races to be the first established mainstream premium player to deliver an EV to market, its engineers are in the final phases of calibration work, fine-tuning prototypes built on the production tooling.
Orders for the i-Pace opened in March 2018, with prices starting at £63,495 (excluding the government's £4500 plug-in vehicle grant for which the Jag is eligible); all models have twin motors for all-wheel drive. Some 25,000 buyers have already registered their interest, with first deliveries expected Q3 2018.
Perhaps the least onerous of the i-Pace’s testing assignments was conducted in Los Angeles in late November, where engineers used the city’s chronic congestion to fine-tune the car’s powertrain on the urban cycle. We tagged along.
1. The i-Pace still looks fantastic
When a car makes the transition from concept to production reality there’s always the worry that its design will be corrupted, and compromised to the point of disappointment. i-Pace is not like that.
Even in ‘Look at me!’ urban camo, its proportions remain striking: the rakish cab-forward proportions (there’s next to no visible bonnet when you’re sat behind the wheel); the appropriately cat-like face; those stunning Ian Callum-spec 22-inch wheels.
Climb inside and while the prototype wears fabric over most of its interior, to hide disguise the final dashboard, you’re struck by the sense of space. Headroom front and rear is epic, and rear seat legroom generous for a car on a footprint of this size.
The driver’s display is related to that used in the new Range Rover PHEV, namely a large circular graphic that displays speed within it and a pointer around its circumference that moves to show power drain/regen charging level in real time.
Also present is a control to drop into a high-regen B mode. ‘Standard mode drives like a normal car, with a level of regen comparable to backing off in third gear,’ explains Simon Patel, the man heading up Jaguar’s EV powertrain team. ‘This was deliberate, so customers new to EVs don’t need to acclimatise. Then we have B mode to give you that one-pedal EV driving style. Personally, I use B mode the majority of the time. It feels natural pretty quickly and it’s more efficient.’
2. It really shifts
At the top of Rodeo Drive, we’re at the front of the queue with an Aventador Roadster noisily idling beside us, when the lights go green. Patel jumps on the throttle and we’re gone, the Jaguar shuffling drive front/rear for a clean launch and deploying its compelling instant shove to heave my breakfast to the back of my stomach. There’s no let-up as the speed piles on, the only noise a little rising turbulence around the wing mirrors and the whine of gears and power inverters.
‘Because the car’s so quiet inside we’ve had to do a lot of work on noise reduction elsewhere,’ explains Patel. ‘We’ve done a lot of tuning work on the epicyclical gear sets: the detail design of their teeth and the way the units are manufactured and assembled, to give us the lowest noise possible. But I like a bit of whine, for a sense of speed.’
Patel insists that key to the i-Pace’s turn of speed are the design of permanent magnet motors and the fact that everything’s been done in-house; motors, inverters, power control units, software.
‘All the code’s been written internally, giving us absolute freedom on tuning and meaning we can make changes quickly and easily,’ he says.
3. It’s solid as a rock
If you’ve driven a Tesla you’ll be aware of a couple of less than ideal traits, notably a fair bit of wind and road noise together with a little creaking from the structure when you put loads through the car, particularly the Model X SUV.
By contrast the i-Pace feels hewn from sturdier stuff. While we didn’t exceed 65mph, the Jaguar shrugged off some pretty rough LA tarmac without complaint – no mean feat on its vast rims. Road noise too is nicely suppressed, despite the car’s broad rubber footprint in full-house twin motor specification.
‘The underfloor battery forms part of the structure, so we have a level of stiffness far greater than you’d find in an ICE car,’ says Patel. ‘It’s a great platform for the ride/handling engineers to work from. With cabin noise typically 6-8db lower than in a conventional car, NVH has been a challenge. We’ve double-isolated the front and rear drive units. They’re rubber-mounted twice, in a cradle within a cradle.’
The ride feels comparable to the S-spec F-Pace models on similar-sized wheels; firm but not unacceptably so. If anything, the i-Pace feels a little more pliant.
4. There’s potential in the chassis
Hollywood is not a place that lends itself to exploring the outer reaches of a car’s dynamic make-up, but where we do change direction the i-Pace feels taut, with no unchecked body movement and swift responses to Patel’s inputs.
With a smile, he explains that the really good stuff is yet to come.
‘The base car splits drive 50:50 front/rear in normal driving but we have intelligent driveline dynamics on this one, so in low-grip conditions or during spirited driving we can override the base software and shift the power around, between the axles and – using torque vectoring by brake – from side to side, too.’
Given the i-Pace’s strong fundamentals (a centre of gravity 100mm lower than that of the F-Pace, if an as yet unconfirmed kerb weight quite a bit porkier) and Jaguar’s track record for making SUVs that don’t wilt when you pile on the pressure, chances are the i-Pace should have driver appeal well beyond that of the vast, largely uninterested Model X.
5. Jaguar’s taking no chances
New technology this may be but Jaguar can’t rely on the forgiveness of brave early adopters. i-Pace has to be bulletproof from the get-go if Jaguar’s long-term electrification is to be a success.
Patel: ‘Thermal management’s been a challenge. We’ve two cooling system: a low-temperature circuit to keep the battery in its ideal 25° C range; and a higher temp circuit – around 70° C – that cools the motors [there’s a water jacket around the external stators] and the power electronics. We’ve covered over 1.5 million engineering miles across 200 prototypes and rig-tested powertrain components over 11,000 miles. The car’s been through all our standard testing regimes plus a few new ones we’ve developed to cover electrification.’
Look out for CAR's first i-Pace drive in the spring.
Check out more of our Jaguar reviews