Words Dean Mellor
The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is the first potent electric vehicle offering from a mainstream vehicle manufacturer capable of taking on the offerings from Tesla. It offers a great combination performance, comfort and practicality, as well as a touring range that will minimise the onset of range anxiety.
What is the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace?
The I-Pace will forever be known as Jaguar’s first electric vehicle (EV), but it is such a well-rounded package that this high-performance luxury SUV deserves to be recognised for much more than that.
Internally, many at Jaguar refer to the I-Pace’s all-new platform as the ‘skateboard’, because without its sleek bodywork there’s a flat aluminium structure housing a battery pack with the wheels located at each corner that looks similar too, you guessed it, a skateboard. The battery itself is a liquid-cooled 90kWh Li-ion unit with 432 pouch cells, and Jaguar claims an impressive 480km range using the official WLTP test method, and a 0-80% charging time of just 40 minutes with a DC 100kW fast charger or 10 hours with an AC 7kW charger.
For those who want to charge their I-Pace at home, Jaguar has teamed up with JET Charge to offer 7kW Delta AC Mini Plus single outlet wall box, installed in an off-street parking area from $2280. This set-up is claimed to provide charging at a rate three times faster than a domestic power socket.
The I-Pace’s battery powers two permanent magnet electric motors (one on each axle providing full-time four-wheel drive) that make 147kW and 348Nm each, for a total peak output of 294kW and 696Nm. Although the I-Pace weighs in at a relatively hefty 2133kg, with 100% of torque available from zero revs, acceleration from standstill creeps into supercar territory. Think 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds!
The I-Pace runs a conventional suspension and steering package, with an independent double wishbone set-up at the front and an independent integral link set-up at the rear. The standard springs are coils with passive dampers, while ride-height adjustable air springs are optional and come with continuously variable dampers. Steering is rack and pinion with electric assistance.
The I-Pace’s sleek body has an aerodynamic drag coefficient of just 0.29Cd. It offers seating for up to five occupants and a generous rear cargo space. There’s also a small cargo space up front where the engine of a more typical SUV would normally be located.
At launch, the I-Pace is being offered in four model grades: the $119,000 S, the $130,200 SE, the $140,800 HSE and the $159,700 First Edition.
Standard equipment on the I-Pace S includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated door mirrors with approach lights, Luxtec seat trim, 8-way semi-powered front seats, a 10-inch and 5-inch Touch Pro Duo infotainment screens, a 12.3-inch interactive driver display, Meridian sound system, satnav, two-zone climate-control air conditioning, flush exterior door handles, one-touch power windows, acoustic laminated windscreen, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors with approach lights, infrared reflective windscreen, auto levelling LED headlights, soft-grain leather-covered steering wheel and ambient interior lighting.
The I-Pace SE adds 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, a power tailgate, headlight washers, premium LED headlights with signature DRLs, 10-way electric memory front seats and leather seat trim.
In addition to features on the SE, the I-Pace HSE comes with adaptive cruise control with steering assist, a power gesture tailgate, Matrix LED headlights with signature DRLs, Ebony Windsor leather seat trim, Meridian surround sound and a 360° surround view camera.
The I-Pace First Edition is fully loaded and in addition to the HSE it has a panoramic roof, privacy glass, heated windscreen, heated washer jets, front fog lights, unique veneer trim, heated steering wheel, 18-way seats, suede-cloth headlining, configurable ambient lighting, four-zone climate control air conditioning, standard air suspension with Adaptive Dynamics and Adaptive Surface Response, DAB+ radio, head-up display and an Activity Key (wristband).
Typical of Jaguar, many of the features offered as standard on various model grades are also available as optional extras on lower grades, and a buyer could spend several days poring over the options lists to personalise a vehicle. There’s also a comprehensive range of exterior, interior, touring and other accessories for further vehicle personalisation.
What’s the interior like?
Befitting of a Jaguar, the interior has plenty of high-quality trim and soft-touch materials, but it’s the striking design that first catches the eye, with a clean look despite the inclusion of two infotainment screens, the top one displaying information including the satnav, phone, parking sensors, cameras, Bluetooth devices and more, while the lower screen is reserved for the HVAC controls. There’s also a couple of large dials for heater controls, and large buttons to engage drive, neutral, reverse and park, and to operate the driver settings such as Eco, Comfort and Dynamic, and the height adjustment on vehicles equipped with air springs. It’s all very intuitive and doesn’t take a long time to become familiar with the controls.
As for seat comfort, there’s plenty of fore and aft adjustment, rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel and the seats offer good support and comfort. The dash is huge, thanks to the raked windscreen that reaches forward all the way to the front wheels, but there’s good forward visibility and ¼ windows ahead of the exterior mirrors provide a good view to the sides.
The view out the back isn’t great, but the exterior mirrors and the reversing camera combine to offer ample visibility when backing up.
Rear-seat passengers are afforded good leg room and width, although the seats are quite low and the window-line is high, which can hinder the view somewhat. On the upside, there’s plenty of headroom for back-seat passengers, and it never feels claustrophobic, especially in vehicles equipped with the full-length fixed panoramic roof.
The back seat has a 60:40 split, a fold-down centre armrest, ISOFIX points, top tether-style anchors and several charging options for iPads and the like. When the seats are folded, there’s a slightly raked but generous cargo area with luggage tie-down points.
The I-Pace isn’t a particularly large vehicle, but thanks to the fact there’s no engine up front the cab-forward design has certainly allowed the design team to maximise interior space.
What’s it like on the road?
Thanks to Cabin Pre-Conditioning, the I-Pace’s cabin temperature can be pre-set using a remote phone app prior to entering the vehicle. This system can even employ the external power source when the vehicle is plugged in for charging, so you can set the temperature how you want it without draining the battery prior to setting off on your journey.
Those unfamiliar with EVs will find the I-Pace starting procedure straightforward… but a little strange. Simply press the ‘start’ button, put your foot on the brake and select ‘D’ for drive. There’s no noise, so other than the dash lighting up you wouldn’t know it was switched on.
Ease on the throttle and the I-Pace drives away from standstill with barely a murmur, although it emits an external noise at speeds up to 20km/h to alert pedestrians to its presence. The next thing to get used to is the regenerative braking system, which has low and high settings. When the battery is fully charged, the regenerative braking is not employed, as there’s nowhere to store the excess power, but when the battery level drops regenerative braking has more effect, so when you back off on the throttle in high mode, the vehicle slows noticeably without depressing the brake pedal. In fact, the I-Pace will almost come to a complete stop using regenerative braking alone. At first it feels a bit strange but, again, it doesn’t take long to get used to it.
The first time you plant your foot on the accelerator, you’ll be amazed at the performance on offer. With all 696Nm of torque available from standstill, the I-Pace rockets away from the lights like a supercar. This abundance of torque is there whenever you want it, so is also of great benefit when overtaking on the open road.
Of course, there’s a price to pay when using the accelerator with abandon, and that’s reduced touring range, which is clearly displayed on the I-Pace’s excellent 12.3-inch interactive driver display, which also shows vehicle speed, the posted limit and whether the electric motors are using power or being charged through the braking system. This display can also be tailored to show satnav and driver aids, and includes a clock, ambient temperature, odometer and tripmeters. And then there’s the head-up display (on vehicles so equipped), which clearly shows vehicle speed and posted limit without causing distraction, and can be even seen while wearing polarised sunglasses.
The I-Pace driving experience is not just about straight-line performance and range anxiety, however, as it offers an excellent blend of ride quality and handling. Whether equipped with coil springs or optional air springs, the I-Pace soaks up bumps on crook roads to provide a very comfortable ride, but it’s also well controlled, with minimal body roll when cornering, and responsive steering that’s nicely weighted and provides great driver feedback.
Thanks to the location of battery pack, which is the heaviest component of the vehicle, the I-Pace has a very low centre of gravity, and a 50:50 front:rear weight distribution. As a result it can be thrown into corners more like a low-slung sportscar than a five-seat SUV, and thanks to all-wheel drive there’s always plenty of grip to get all that power and torque to the ground when exiting corners.
Sure, the I-Pace is not designed to be a sportscar, but all that grunt is addictive, and driving on a nice twisty road can result in a constant internal battle between using all of the available performance and conserving battery life. And this is the dilemma: while the I-Pace offers an impressive range, charging infrastructure is yet to catch up, which means trips in this vehicle are likely to be limited to intracity journeys or short-ish weekend jaunts rather than inter-city runs such as between Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. If you’re commuting only, there’s nothing to stop you from charging overnight and having more than enough range for the next day, or charging at work if you need a top-up to get home, but unless you can find a suitable fast-charger or two on the Hume Highway, a Melbourne to Sydney trip could be problematic. Having said that, the charging network is growing all the time.
Speaking of charging, Jaguar has opted to fit the I-Pace with a Type 2 AC and CCS Combo Type 2 DC charging input, which makes it compatible with public charging networks including Chargefox’s ultra-rapid network, Queensland Electric Highway and NRMA’s destination chargers, of which there are currently around 150 charging locations nationwide. And, according to Jaguar, charging an I-Pace at a rate of $0.30c per kWh will cost $5.70 for every 100km driven, resulting in up to a $1500 saving per year compared to a conventional ICE-powered SUV of the same size.
After spending a day behind the wheel of the I-Pace, the most notable memory is not the incredible performance, the seemingly excellent build quality, the superb ride quality, the fantastic handling or the impressive range, but how it drives so much like a traditional car. Sure, there’s no engine noise, but the electric motors still emit a satisfying sound under hard acceleration (no, I’m not kidding), and while the brakes feel a bit different, they’re certainly effective, and you’ll soon get used to them.
The I-Pace has left me in no doubt that the eventual transition from the internal combustion engine to electric powered vehicles will not be the horrible event that car enthusiasts the world over have been dreading. In fact, with the right charging infrastructure in place, it’s just going to get better.
What safety features does it get?
The Jaguar I-Pace has just been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating. Standard safety equipment across the range includes six airbags and Emergency Braking. On the S, a $1740 Drive Pack adds Blind Spot Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and High-Speed Emergency Braking, which is standard on SE, HSE and First Edition model grades. A $3970 Driver Assist Pack on S ($2230 on SE and standard on HSE and First Edition) adds Blind Spot Assist, 360° Surround Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist and High Speed Emergency Braking.
So, what do we think of the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace?
While Jaguar has beaten its German rivals to market with a potent luxury EV, there’s no sign that the I-Pace is a rush job. It really is a well-rounded vehicle that offers excellent performance, ride, handling and even range. Oh, and it looks bloody fantastic, too.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Pricing $119,000 (S); $130,200 (SE); $140,800 (HSE); $159,700 (First Edition) Warranty 5-years/200,000km Battery Warranty 8-years/160,000km Roadside Assistance 5 years Safety 5 star ANCAP (2018) Engine 2 x permanent magnetic electric motors Power 294kW Torque 696Nm Transmission single-speed epicyclic Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4682mm (L); 2011mm (W); 1565mm (H) Turning Circle 12m Ground Clearance 142mm Kerb Weight 2133kg GVM 2670kg Payload 537kg Cargo space 638/656L Battery 90kWh (gross); 84.7kWh (useable) Consumption 21.2kWh/100km WLTP, 480km range WLTP Spare Repair kit