Living with a Jaguar i-Pace: Jag first, EV second

Published: 21 September 2020

► CAR lives with an i-Pace
► Editor-in-chief Phil Mc is your guide
► Can the e-Jag settle into daily life?

There's 13 miles to St Albans, I've got a fully charged battery, half a packet of Polo mints, it's dark out and so on. This is a rare chance to drive the i-Pace without worrying about battery preservation.

The roads out of Edgware after midnight are empty and national speed limit, so I accelerate hard. The Jag spins out 516lb ft of torque but it feels much punchier. The 0-62mph sprint takes less than 5.0sec – not quite hypercar-quick, but hypercars don't seat five or emit zero tailpipe pollution.

The i-Pace's dynamic prowess is even more notable: through some fast sweepers, it feels like there's a giant, invisible hand on the roof, pressing the EV into the road, keeping the body level and the tyres stuck fast. But my favourite aspect of the electric Jag is the steering. The rack feels pretty heavy but the response is anything but leaden, turning in eagerly and positively.

It's not just me. Editor Ben Miller, an EV sceptic, said this after borrowing the Jag for a weekend: 'It handles beautifully. The way the i-Pace controls its weight and attitude as you turn is incredible. Love that the regenerative braking effectively makes you a left-foot-braking master, your easing of the throttle enough to transfer weight onto the nose and help it do your bidding understeer-free.' Editor-at-large Chris Chilton says it's his favourite current Jag by far.

All of this got me thinking: I wonder what Jaguar's chief engineer Mike Cross makes of his handiwork a couple of years on? So we had a video call to discuss it.

'I wanted the i-Pace to be a Jaguar first and foremost, just one that happened to have a different powertrain,' says the head of vehicle integrity, whose team set the dynamic parameters for every Jag and Land Rover. 'So we focused on steering, ride, handling, NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) – all the things that make a Jaguar.

'I think the steering is the most important attribute of any car. It's the one thing you use all the time. Even if you're not a driving enthusiast, good steering imbues you with confidence. We worked hard at making the steering feel good, linear and intuitive.'

Was the battery weight a problem? 'Apart from low-speed ride, there aren't any circumstances where weight would be a positive. But in the i-Pace the mass is well located because it's low down and between the wheels, and it's got motors at each end. The weight distribution is 50:50, which helped. As did four-wheel drive. You only really notice the mass when you decelerate.'

So is the i-Pace Mike's finest hour? 'It's always about the next car,' he replies. 'I've been fortunate to have worked on the i-Pace and the new Defender, both of which are very significant cars. But of all the cars I've done, the [2009] XFR is probably still my favourite actually.

'It was fast, effortless, refined, fun to drive – everything a Jaguar should be.' And that ethos still guides Jaguar – as everyone who drives the i-Pace seems to agree.

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Jaguar i-Pace S

Price £64,995 (£80,980 as tested)
Performance 90kWh battery, two e-motors, 395bhp, 4.8sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 2.5 miles per kWh (official), 2.2 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.5p per mile
Miles this month 293
Total miles 10,730

Month 4 living with a Jaguar i-Pace: car-like proportions? Not here...

I love gazing out the window at the i-Pace. Stubby nose like a mid-engined supercar's, hatchback rump, a wheelbase the length of an Audi A8 limo's (but overall 453mm shorter), SUV-sized wheels and a roofline that sits midway between saloon and SUV.

Jag's designers reallocated the space no longer required for combustion-engine gubbins to the passenger cell. Audi e-Tron take note. Rear passengers get copious legroom, and the wide footwell allows my kids to walk across to their child seats. The 577-litre boot is pretty big too, but it's deep rather than tall. Still, the other day it swallowed two small bikes and a scooter, plus a back-up pram.

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Jaguar i-Pace S

Price £64,995 (£80,980 as tested)
Performance 90kWh battery, two e-motors, 395bhp, 4.8sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 2.5 miles per kWh (official), 2.1 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.0p per mile
Miles this month 593
Total miles 10,437

Month 3 living with a Jaguar i-Pace: another wallbox convert

i-pace home charge

Hallelujah! My days of arriving at the office chilled to the marrow from a heater-free commute, nerves shredded by range anxiety (closest shave: eight miles and four per cent charge remaining) are over. Today, BP Chargemaster fits my 7kW ‘socketed’ smart home charger!

It’s taken about a month to get to Installation Day, because BP has to assess the suitability of your property, veracity of your claim to own an electrified car, and complete some paperwork to unlock the government’s £500 subsidy. Typically this is done by the applicant sending photos of their home fuse board and its location plus the point to install the charger, and sharing their car’s V5c document and household electricity Meter Point Administration Number (find it on your electricity bill, if you’re feeling MPAN curious!).

Though largely common-sense, this is a task that differs at every property, so Chargemaster is trialling a concierge home visit service. This did not go exactly to plan, largely because I was laid up in bed with an illness and felt somewhat aggrieved to be repeatedly bothered by a smartly dressed couple knocking on my door, presumably to enrol me in a religious organisation.

After a few choice words suggesting other households might be more amenable, I was delighted to have my misconception challenged and welcomed in BP Chargemaster’s technical and home charging experts Andrew Stead and Elaine Butler. 

Other big learnings were that my electricity supplier would have to fit an isolation switch to neutralise the circuit during the install, and that it would be a real squeeze to get the home charger’s circuit breaker into my fuse locker. The team also scoped out my appetite for heavy-duty electrical items, such as a hot tub, underfloor heating or a shed of power tools for dismembering Jehovah’s Witnesses. With the answer ‘none of the above’, BP were satisfied my single-phase power supply would be sufficient, and checked the smart charger’s SIM card would have sufficient signal connectivity.

One month and one isolation switch later, BP Chargemaster engineer Colin Fountain is parking his Transit Connect on my drive. The installation is incredibly thorough, effectively including a survey of your household’s electrics to check the wiring is sound and the system is safely earthed. Fountain reveals the biggest stumbling block is typically the wiring between fuseboard and charger – if the two are far apart, the cabling can cost extra and be impossible to hide from snaking alongside skirting boards or coving. No such problems in my house, so the ex-renewable electricity engineer drills through the wall, hammers in an earthing rod and wires up the charger.

It’s serious stuff, with a chunky cable externally and no room to hide the circuit breaker inside, and five hours of work. All that’s to be expected, though, given the i-Pace will be more power hungry than this year’s Democratic National Convention. Finally the work is done and Fountain talks me through how to use it. I connect the Jag to the home charger, and both parties glow green at their first union. It costs £449 after the subsidy – and worth every penny.

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Jaguar i-Pace S

Price £64,995 (£80,980 as tested)
Performance 90kWh battery, two e-motors, 395bhp, 4.8sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 2.5 miles per kWh (official), 2.1 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.0p per mile
Miles this month 1527
Total miles 9824

Month 2 living with a Jaguar i-Pace: unplugged

i-pace night charge

Life with an electric car and without a home wallbox requires compromises. Here's the workday routine: draw 7kW of charge for nine hours at the office, insufficient time to fully replenish the i-Pace's 90kWh battery. And in wintry weather, every 65-mile commute drains 90-odd miles. So after every trip and top-up, I start with less charge than yesterday. So I cut back on fripperies, such as driving at the speed limit. Or heating. Range anxiety infiltrates my chilling commutes, eyes flicking between predicted range and mileage to destination. I'd bite my nails, but I daren't take off my gloves.

My home bodge is to stick it on the mains for around eight hours, which generates 20 miles. Thankfully my wallbox will be fitted in a few days – but not before my longest odyssey yet, from St Albans to Goodwood.

This requires planning, and after scouring Zap-Map for chargers, I head for Midhurst's South Downs Centre. It's dark and teeming with rain when I arrive with 70 miles left and anxiety about whether it'll be available: YEEEESSSS! But the charger blurb says present your Radio-Frequency ID card to use the charger: NOOOOOO! Zap-Map advises it worked with the Charge Your Car app, so I open that, log a bank card and click 'start charge'. The 50kW DC charger starts... then stops! Repeating the process fires up the charger, and 64 minutes of Costa coffee later, I've got £14 of electricity in the cells and about 180 miles of range.

Giddily, I rag the i-Pace the rest of the way: opening up the e-afterburners to pass a ponderous Corsa and the number 60 bus, scything through the sweepers in the damp darkness. The body bobs gently on the air suspension, feeling locked and loaded but never uncomfortable. Then it's the left fork onto the Goodwood estate.

Having the i-Pace in max regen is good for drives like this. Every lift and the nose tucks in and grips as the Jag harvests energy, and fabulously weighted steering: what a front end! I arrive at the Goodwood Hotel – with sufficient range to get home tomorrow. Bliss.

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Jaguar i-Pace S

Price £64,995 (£80,980 as tested)
Performance 90kWh battery, two e-motors, 395bhp, 4.8sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 2.5 miles per kWh (official), 2.1 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.0p per mile
Miles this month 1522
Total miles 8297

Diary update: towing bicycles with our Jaguar i-Pace

i-pace bike rack

Borrowed editor-in-chief Phil McNamara's i-Pace for a weekend away (pre-lockdown, before I get told off!) and got the chance to test its family creds by ferrying children and bicycles around.

There's good news here: ours has Jaguar's own electrically retractable towbar fitted, which stows away hidden in the rear bumper when not needed. But at the touch of a button in the boot, it swings down into position, ready to tow. My Thule bike carrier plugs straight into the 13-pin electrics and all the lights and indicators sync seamlessly with the Jag's electrics. Job done. 

It felt no different to drive and is proof - were it needed - that you can do normal everyday stuff with electric cars. It felt even more appropriate to arrive at Rutland Water (pictured above) in a saintly EV for our zero-emissions bike ride. 

I'm planning some longer trips in the Jag i-Pace, so will report back on battery range soon. On this short local trip, the addition of a bike carrier had no meaningful impact on the electric range.

By Tim Pollard

Month 1 of our Jaguar i-Pace long-term test: the introduction

CAR magazine's Jaguar i-Pace and keeper Phil McNamara

So this is it: my immersion into full electric motoring starts here, with this Jaguar i-Pace. No armbands, just in at the deep end. Or shall we liken that to my house, 65 miles from the office, and currently devoid of wallbox. The shallow end is CAR HQ, with a row of 10 restorative chargers, and a mere smattering of plug-in hybrids and full EVs to suckle on them.

To make matters a little more interesting as I make my inaugural walk to the Caesium Blue hatchback, I can see a cloud of my breath forming. This experiment will span winter's toughest months – how will that impact the 292-mile maximum range of the lightest i-Pace? The blue is the best i-Pace colour, as vibrant and eye-catching as Photon Red, but classier. Both are £700 options.

Darkness has fallen but the monolithic 22-inch rims shimmer, their split V-shaped design reminding me of vultures in flight. Costly at £2900, but i-Paces on the standard 18s look severely under-wheeled. I'll probably spend the same again on alloy repairs given the slender rubber.

Open the door and the Jaguar leaper dances on the central digital screen, while the digital instrument binnacle announces its fully charged range, my very own Oscars' Best Picture moment of suspense. The number of the beast is 259 miles. That's pretty much the quoted range for the heaviest, most luxurious i-Pace – of which OW19 TKF is a kindred spirit.

The i-Pace's base price is £64,4995 (though the government's plug-in car grant will chop £3000 off that), but this example has a whopping £16k of options. I drop into the costliest one, the 14-way adjustable heated and cooled Performance seats. Finished in tan leather, they're a beautiful shape, curved around the shoulders, slender in depth and unyieldingly firm.

Press start, then D and off the i-Pace glides, with that understated, ascending electric car whine. Swing the wheel and the brilliance of the electric Jag's steering comes flooding back. Meaty but not onerous, direct but not flighty, it makes every corner a delight. Turn-in can be enhanced by the standard all-wheel drive system, with torque vectoring to manage the torque flow at each corner – sometimes you feel the outer wheel spooling up to push the nose in.

The binnacle states 2˚C, and I get my first pang of range anxiety. Not that I fear I won't get home, but because I'd like to get back again tomorrow. I put the air-con on auto, but eschew the rear screen demister. I accept the 90kWh battery pack will take some warming, but get a shock when 13 miles of range vanish upon leaving the car park.

The ride is pretty comfortable considering we're rolling on elegant tractor wheels. Sure it feels more tense than my outgoing Citroën C5 Aircross's, bucking more noticeably over expansion joints but it's not abrupt. There are electronically controlled air springs at each corner, an £1100 option.

The £900 head-up display glows in the windscreen, while amber light streaks are visible overhead through the £960 glass roof. When traffic occasionally thins, the automated matrix LED lights go up a gear in intensity – the jury's out on whether that's £1850 well spent.

I swipe left on the central screen, to access the EV menu. Tap the brake discs icon and you can switch from mild to max regeneration when you lift: it's reassuringly aggressive, which I hope translates into prodigious battery TLC.

Jump on the other pedal and the i-Pace takes off in that distinctively electric car way: from perambulating to punching holes in the horizon, as instantly as a click of impatient fingers. The electric motors, one per axle, each spin out 197bhp.

Jaguar i-Pace long-term test

But that performance is for another day: I accelerate steadily up to the speed limit, then adhere resolutely to it. The £1350 Drive pack, with blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking and crucially adaptive cruise control is my ally. The stop and go system is not too edgy, taking its time before slowing the car for traffic ahead.

Good job too, because having to pile speed back on is the enemy of range. So I'm keen to carry as much momentum as is prudent into roundabouts and corners, where the i-Pace just feels mighty. Swing the steering wheel, hold the throttle and the tyres just bite, scything the car through the apex, helped by those low-set batteries dropping the centre of gravity. The handling defies the 2.2-tonne heft.

I arrive home. My destination for tonight, but 'the start of a journey' in the parlance of Love Island contestants and clunking sports stars. It's a journey to find my true inner power source (electric or combustion?), overcome adversity and triumph against the odds – or I'll potentially settle for never running out of charge, thank you.

The binnacle says 151 miles, and 58% of the battery, remain. Looks like tomorrow's going to be an office day after all. I think I'm going to absolutely love this car...

By Phil McNamara

Our i-Pace's style details: how we've specced it

Turn on the matrix£1850
The i-Pace S comes as standard with LED headlights, but you can add 'signature' daytime-running lights for £1100 or upgrade to our matrix LED lights, which selectively dip the light cone so you can maintain full beam without dazzling oncoming traffic. They're £1850, or £950 on the SE.

Two little ducks, 22: £2900
Standard 18-inch wheels help maximise range, but look weedy. We drove the cars on 20-inch wheels at the launch, a good compromise but one that miffed former design boss Ian Callum. This time our car goes full Callum on 22s, a punchy £2900 extra.

Heated, very cool£3940
The biggest chunk of our £16k option spend goes on heated and cooled 14-way adjustable Performance seats lifted from the F-type. They're firmer than the comfort-focussed standard chairs, but sexier and hold you better.

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Jaguar i-Pace S

Price £64,995 (£80,980 as tested)
Performance 90kWh battery, two e-motors, 395bhp, 4.8sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 2.5 miles per kWh (official), 2.1 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 6.4p per mile
Miles this month 1420
Total miles 6775

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds