2019 Jaguar I-Pace
A Worthy Adversary?
By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | May 2018
The new Jaguar I-Pace kicks off a flurry of all-electric crossovers from luxury brands. It’s an exciting preview of things to come.
What is this vehicle?
With the prestige of the Tesla brand building so swiftly, and on the back of a single model, the luxury sector has taken notice. While the Model X crossover has not lived up to the high expectations, due to issues like cost and compromised utility, the consensus in the industry is still largely that whoever manages to create a vehicle that would combine a high-end battery-electric vehicle execution with SUV styling and space could be the first traditional brand to really break through in the electrified mobility race.
And there are few brands more “traditional” than Jaguar. That’s not stopping them from putting forth a vehicle they believe will challenge Tesla for the EV crown, offering bold, sporty styling, an impeccable interior, and the type of range and performance that gets people excited about the EV experience. And because it’s been designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, the I-Pace offers interior packaging that takes advantage of their inherent efficiencies, providing a bit more interior space and cargo room than similarly sized gas vehicles.
Who is this vehicle for?
The I-Pace is definitely aimed at the Tesla crowd, and other types that love to be the first on the block. And it’s likely that there are still a few EV skeptics who may still be wary of a brand like Tesla, but may be intrigued to see a battery-powered car from an established marque.
While Jaguar has a very fresh crossover lineup with the E-Pace and F-Pace—not to mention the entire Land Rover brand under the same corporate umbrella—this leaping cat could also appeal to luxury CUV buyers. The brand asserts the cargo space is “larger than most medium-sized SUVs,” but take this with a grain of salt, because this statement only makes sense if they’re talking about space behind the 3rd row, which the Jag doesn’t have. In reality, it’s similarly sized to an Acura RDX—though lower and wider—with a slight cargo advantage given its frunk (front trunk) which holds an additional cubic foot of stuff.
And it could even reach out to driving enthusiasts, similarly to Tesla, since its power, low center of gravity, 50/50 weight distribution and sophisticated all-wheel drive suggest the potential for thrilling performance.
Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?
This is the vanguard of the coming wave of luxury EV crossovers. Nearly every other luxury brand has one in the pipeline, and they’ll be watching the I-Pace launch intently to try to read the market.
But that means this is the first chance buyers have to grab a luxury crossover EV that isn’t as pricey as a Telsa Model X, and doesn’t have those funky falcon-wing doors, which may set it up for more success than the Tesla. We’ll give you a run-down of the other vehicles that will be hitting the market eventually, but right now the I-Pace is the big story.
What Excites Us / Top Likes:
1 – The I-Pace takes Jaguar’s current styling language to a new level, with familiar cues brought to an entirely new silhouette, that combines the best characteristics of both cars and SUVs. While its length is within a tenth of an inch of the RDX, its EV powertrain allows for a wheelbase of 117.7”, which is a full foot longer than the Acura’s. This pushes the wheels to the corners resulting in a stance that marks it as an aggressive cat, keeping most of the weight towards the center of the vehicle and promising responsive handling.
The roofline is also just about the raciest combo of sedan and crossover we’ve seen, with a super-aggressive hatch window angle that still manages to allow for decent cargo space.
2 – The opening ante gets you 394 hp and 512 lb-ft of torque, a significant advantage over the base 75D Tesla models (328 hp, 387 lb-ft), while undercutting those vehicles in price. As a result, its bests the Model X’s 0-60 time (4.5s vs. 4.9s), though against the Model S it’s only a tie.
It also comes standard with dual motors to provide all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, and optional electronically controlled suspension dampers that make continual adjustments. Combined with its long wheelbase and short overhangs, its battery pack that creates a very low center of gravity, and the 50/50 weight distribution created by the placement of those motors, the I-Pace should handle as well as a performance sedan.
Jaguar is highly confident in the I-Pace’s performance, so much so that it’s introducing a formula race composed exclusively of Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY vehicles built by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations. The series will start late this year.
3 – The I-Pace comes standard with a 90 kWh battery back, good for 240 miles of range. This is well above the 200-mile threshold that many people need to consider an EV, and right in line with the range of the Model X. Jag also boasts about the I-Pace’s ability to use DC fast charging—which is standard—to get an 80% charge in just 40 minutes. That translates to a rate of 288 miles per hour of charging, which is well above everything else on the market that doesn’t bear a Tesla badge. Tesla’s Superchargers can charge as quickly as 340 miles per hour, though.
4 – The interior is packed full of style and tech. The Touch Pro Duo center stack setup serves both, with a 10”
main infotainment screen, and another 5.5” touchscreen below it for the climate controls, with even the climate dials housing little dynamic screens that can vary their function. And of course the instrument cluster is a configurable screen that can put vehicle functions in your line of sight, not to mention the available head-up display that pushes this even further.
5 – This gorgeous panoramic roof has a special UV coating that filters out much of the rays that heat up the vehicle, so Jaguar says a screen is unnecessary. We’re skeptical, but hopeful.
Items to make better (Least Favorite things):
1 – This is still an expensive vehicle, particularly for its size. While it starts at around $70,000, you’ll have to upgrade to the SE trim to get 20” wheels, LED daytime running lights, and autonomous features that are going into much less expensive vehicles now, like adaptive cruise and high-speed emergency braking. And only on the top HSE do you get the Driver Assist Package that adds Steering Assist. By then you’re up to $81,495, and that’s before any of the numerous options are added. If you pile on everything from fog lights ($100) to exterior carbon fiber accents ($4,390), you can get your I-Pace to within spitting distance of $100,000. Again, this is for a crossover the size of an Acura RDX.
2 – It does feel like the Jag should be quicker, more energy-efficient, and roomier based on its specs. It has more power than a Model S 75D, and weighs about the same, but it’s 0-60 time is slower. You might expect this is because Jag has tuned the use of that power to be a bit more frugal, but it actually uses more energy per mile, according to industry estimates. And despite a wheelbase much longer than the compact luxury crossovers like the RDX and Jaguar’s own E-Pace, it has less rear legroom. Still, it does have clever interior storage solutions on top of its frunk, so there’s room for a good amount of stuff.
The Total Package
Overall, the I-Pace is an exciting new vehicle that offers a combination of traits that nothing else in the industry can match. It’s a compact luxury crossover with the benefits—to both driver and the environment—of an electric vehicle, with thrilling performance, at a price that undercuts Tesla.
And at the New York Auto Show last month, Jaguar announced jointly with Waymo—the autonomous car unit of Google’s parent company—that the two companies are partnering on creating a fully autonomous version of the I-Pace that will be part of Waymo’s fleet. Waymo plans to buy up to 20,000 I-Paces over the next few years, which would be enough to take people on roughly a million trips a day. They start testing later this year.
Pricing and Availability
Jaguar has said the I-Pace will be in customers’ hands during the second half of 2018, but you can configure and order one right now at Jaguar’s website. Pricing starts at $70,495 including destination.
What Else Is Coming?
The I-Pace is just the start. Every luxury brand wants to field a vehicle within this segment or a similar one. The competitors most immediately on the horizon include:
- Audi e-Tron Quattro – more info is promised later this year, with European deliveries to start by the end of 2018; it will apparently have faster charging capability than Teslas
- Buick EV CUV – possibly called Enspire, this will be a small CUV, not much bigger than the Chevy Bolt with which it shares its architecture, and is likely to hit the market next year
- Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell – this will be both a plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the first of this combo, expected late next year, though maybe only for fleets; Mercedes might also create a full EV version around the same time
- Mercedes-Benz EQC – the first product of the company’s EQ electric sub-brand, this would be similar in look and size to the Generation EQ concept from 2016, with a range of over 300 miles, and it is likely to hit the market towards the end of next year
- Tesla Model Y – an SUV based on the Model 3, which will be smaller than the Model X and much cheaper, there are reports its launch target is November of next year, but given Tesla’s track record that’s likely to slip
- BMW iX3 – this will be an electrified version of the new-for-’18 X3, with dual motors, that is likely to come towards the end of 2020 as ’21 model