What's the biggest difference between the Jaguar I-Pace and other EVs? The fact that it's actually fun to drive on a winding road or, say, a race track like this.
JAGUAR I-PACE SE
Base price: $169,900
Powertrain and performance: 2x electric motors, 90kWh battery pack, 294kW/696Nm, AWD, Range up to 470km (WLTP)
Vital statistics: 4682mm long, 1565mm high, 2990mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 656 litres, 20-inch alloy wheels.
We like: Sensational looks. Electric performance. Quality interior. An EV that handles well and has actual steering feel.
We don't like: Poor rear visibility. Sluggish infotainment system. No wireless phone charging.
The I-Pace is not only Jaguar's first all-electric offering, it is also a car that has beat a lot of other, far wealthier, luxury manufacturers to the market thanks to its remarkably short 4-year development time. And it dives head first into a luxury EV segment that is populated (for now) by precisely one competitor - Tesla.
So, obvious question first: why would you buy this instead of a Tesla?
There's actually a number of good reasons, although most of them are subjective (looks, brand preference, etc), but the thing that would tip it for me personally is that the I-Pace is a better car than a Tesla.
Okay, so while the Tesla fanatics are calming themselves down and picking up whatever they broke when they read that, let me clarify that I said the I-Pace is a better car than a Tesla. Not that it was necessarily a better electric vehicle.
Most Teslas have a larger range and more advanced driver assists, somehave better straight line performance and all are excellent EVs, while Tesla also provides their fantastic Supercharger network, but they are just not that satisfying to throw around a winding road, particularly if you actually enjoy really driving a car.
This is because they are American and don't really understand corners. But Jaguar does and that shows with the I-Pace, as it can go around a corner very well and is actually rather enjoyable doing it.
The I-Pace also does rather well at being just a 'normal' car. With regenerative braking set to high for proper one pedal EV style driving and creep turned off the I-Pace gives you the full EV experience, but set the braking regen low and turn creep on and it feels remarkably like an internal combustion-engined car to drive.
Until you accelerate, that is, but even then it does a capable impression of an ICE vehicle with a fake, but endearing growly rumble that also adds a supercharger-like shriek to the mix at higher speeds. It's all very well-judged and quite subtle, and it can also be turned down or off for that full EV experience.
You mean to say it is actually a fun thing to drive then?
Absolutely. That brilliantly low centre of gravity and instant electric motor torque that is a hallmark of all EVs is complimented nicely by a combination of things that no other EV has so far been able to get quite right - a sensationally good blend of ride comfort, sharp handling and - more importantly - sharp, accurate and nicely weighted steering.
Sure, at 2200kg, the I-Pace is a hefty thing (after all, batteries aren't light) and it occasionally feels it, but Jaguar have done a marvellous job of making that heft work for, rather than against the I-Pace.
The ride is impressively settled and compliant, with hints of the luxurious waft of a large luxury car, while it pounds into corners with a sharpness and eagerness that belies this feeling of waft.
That battery-provided low centre of gravity means there is hardly any body roll and that fantastic steering is superbly responsive and accurate, making stringing together a series of corners an utter delight, regardless of what is powering it.
But is a proper Jag? What about "grace, space and pace"?
Well, it certainly has the pace part sorted, with a 0 to 100 time of 4.8 seconds, and with it having a longer wheelbase and shorter overall length (almost no overhangs) than a Tesla Model S or X, it certainly has space inside as well.
While its sleek, low roof styling rules out being a seven-seater, the I-Pace still has a generous boot and seriously impressive leg room in the rear. That sleek roofline does restrict visibility from the rear seats, however, and if the optional panoramic glass roof is fitted, it does impinge on headroom a little too.
And grace? Well, personally, I think the I-Pace looks sensational and, yes, graceful - that swooping beltline that runs the length of the car is seriously sexy in the metal (just not so visible in pictures) - but the I-Pace's real grace comes on the road, where that delightful combination of ride quality and effortless handing is truly graceful.
As with all Jaguars, the longer the emphasis on the A is when you say "Oh, I drive a Jag", the more of a proper Jag it is. So, yeah, this is a proper Jaaaaaag.
You seem to be raving ecstatically about it there - nothing wrong with it at all then?
Oh no, there is. Just nothing too serious.
Rear visibility isn't great, it gets pricey when you start optioning it up and the touchscreen infotainment system (spread over two screens here) is still a tad slow to respond and a bit flaky - they both once refused to come on for a good few minutes for me one time.
It also looks very much like a Range Rover inside (which is not actually a bad thing per se, just a tad disappointing) and the fact that a cutting edge tour-de-force electric car doesn't have wireless phone charging is just unforgivable in my tech-nerd world...
Click here to book your exclusive test drive of the I-Pace at Archibald & Shorter today...