Tesla turned the luxury-car market upside down several years ago by relying on fully electric powertrains, a strategy that helped the brand carve its own niche and enjoy more success than it likely would have had if it sold conventionally powered automobiles instead.
Now, Jaguar is launching the first strike against Tesla with the all-new I-PACE. It’s a bold move by the British automaker in search of a competitive edge. Jaguar hit the market before Mercedes-Benz and Audi could do the same with their EQC and e-tron quattro, respectively
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How interesting is the I-PACE? Extremely. In fact, just a month ago it was named 2019 World Car of the Year. Clearly, we’re not the only ones smitten by this sporty electric crossover.
Jaguar’s latest products have all been acclaimed for their design and the I-PACE is no exception. Buyers will fall in love with its stunning looks as much as its zero-emission technology. Combining the nose of a sports car with the bulkier rear end of an SUV, the lines are sharp and muscular, making this cat look like it’s ready to pounce at any time, especially with the available 22-inch wheels featuring carbon inserts. We’re far from the odd-ball styling that defines many other EVs, that’s for sure.
If you want to turn heads even more, your best bet is the Photon Red paint—arguably the flashiest body colour on the menu. Other than that, the Jaguar I-PACE stands out with a low roofline and a large air scoop that lets drivers peek through the hood. The latter, according to engineers, improves air circulation and reduces the drag coefficient of the vehicle. The flush-mounted door handles are similar to what Tesla does; they’re just not ideal for winter.
The I-PACE is about the same size as the E-PACE, but the missing combustion engine and the longer wheelbase create a much roomier interior. Every occupant benefits from the extra space, not just those sitting up front. Families will appreciate this vehicle, too, as cargo capacity is fairly generous. The only caveat is that the load floor is a bit higher due to all the electric system hardware underneath.
The cabin is flawlessly appointed with a selection of materials that would make any luxury-car buyer happy. Attention to detail is evident, as well. Our tester featured Windsor leather sport seats, an ebony suede headliner and a huge panoramic sunroof. No doubt about it: The I-PACE is a world-class premium vehicle. By comparison, the Tesla Model X feels less refined and luxurious. As for the dual-screen Touch Pro infotainment system, it’s almost identical to the one found in the Range Rover Velar.
Music lovers will rave about the Meridian audio system, one of the best in the entire auto industry. The 10-speaker, 770-watt option with 3D surround sound is even more impressive.
No More Range Anxiety
Once fully charged, the 90-kWh battery in the Jaguar I-PACE allows you to driver 377 kilometres, which is less than the Model X, but more than enough to quell range anxiety. You don’t even need to plug the vehicle every day. Planning your commutes will be a lot easier than with inferior EVs that offer limited range. After spending the night out at a temperature close to the freezing point, the I-PACE still had 320 kilometres left in the (electric) tank.
With the output equivalent of 394 horsepower sent to all four wheels, acceleration will pin you to your seat anytime you hit the throttle. Of course, the 512 pound-feet of instant torque deserve a big part of the credit, too. There’s something about this silent knock-out punch that catches passengers off-guard and blows their minds. For the record, the Jaguar I-PACE sprints from 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds. Even more impressive than the initial take-off is the way the vehicle surges forward during passing manoeuvres, regardless of the speed you’re driving at.
There are two regenerative braking modes available—both selectable via the on-board computer, which we found a tad inconvenient. The more aggressive one still requires the use of the conventional brakes in many instances, a rather disappointing fact. By comparison, Nissan’s e-Pedal system is much more effective. We also like the little paddle in the Chevrolet Bolt EV that allows drivers to manually control regenerative braking pressure. Alas, none of that can be found in the I-PACE.
What else is there to say? Well, with a body made almost entirely of aluminum, this electric crossover is lighter than competitors, making it extremely agile and fun to drive around town. However, it becomes quickly apparent that the throttle and steering are governed by software. As a result, the rewarding sense of control is a bit diminished.
As for pricing, the 2019 Jaguar I-PACE is by no means a bargain. While the gas-powered E-PACE can be had for less than $50,000, I-PACE buyers must spend nearly $90,000 for the privilege of driving a zero-emissions vehicle. That amount can reach six-figure territory with the top-line HSE model or if you add several (expensive) options. Still, the I-PACE is way more affordable than the Model X.