Jaguar's 400hp electric SUV unveiled

Wherever you sit on the electric fence that is zero-emission motoring, there's no question that the I-PACE is a watershed moment for Jaguar. That would obviously be the case if the new model was merely the firm's first all-electric car - however the fact that it is also very likely to be the first premium SUV sold without a combustion engine is potentially an even bigger deal.

True enough, the Audi E-tron is expected to follow it into showrooms very quickly, and Tesla's growing fanbase could justly point to the Model X's established market position - but the latter, with all its falcon-door silliness, is not really an SUV in any conventional sense and beating Ingolstadt by any margin (given its superiority in resources) is a notable win for Gaydon.

Of course, being first is hardly worth the effort if the product isn't right, and in that regard the I-PACE's vital statistics make for compelling reading. Conceived as an EV from the outset, the car sits on a bespoke aluminium architecture which is claimed as Jaguar's most rigid. There's an electric motor on each axle providing four-wheel drive and a maximum output of 400hp and 513lb ft of torque - considerably more than is afforded the most powerful F-Pace.

Gaydon says that translates into a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds - equalling the new Range Rover Sport SVR - and a top speed of 124mph, despite a DIN kerbweight 'from' 2,133kg (i.e. finishing somewhere significantly north of there in the real world). Whatever the final figure, it is distributed 50/50 and with a centre of gravity 130mm lower than in the F-Pace. The chassis is comprised of front double wishbones and a rear integral link (Jaguar's preferred suspension configuration, and optionable with air), leading to some ambitious claims about the car's ride and handling, too.

All of which plays second fiddle to the real electric car clincher, which is - as ever - the range you can expect to achieve in real-world conditions and the amount of time you'll have to wait for the batteries to recharge. The good news here is that, according to Jaguar, the I-PACE's 90kWh lithium-ion battery, stashed between the axles in 432 'pouch' cells, is capable of delivering up 298 miles of usable range - and will charge by 80 per cent after 45 minutes.

Even with the usual caveats, both those numbers are fairly striking. "Up to" is a critical part of the phrasing when discussing all-electric range, but the I-PACE's claim is at least based on the new WLTP test cycle, which ought to be slightly more stringent than the old NEDC one (where it apparently achieves closer to 340 miles). That's significant because the Tesla Model X 75D and 100D rated as 259 and 351 miles, respectively.

While that doesn't necessarily mean superlative things for the real world (the Model X's range can be made to step off a cliff if you drive it determinedly up a motorway for an extended period of time) it does at least suggest that the I-PACE is well prepared to mix it with the current class-leader - and that's crucial for its prospective success. Ditto the ability to fast charge when not at home.

This number too requires some qualifying: you'll get 80 per cent after 45 minutes when connected to a 100kW DC Rapid Charger - which aren't exactly prevalent in the UK just yet. Using the more common 50kW charger, you'll need to wait 85 minutes; providing you with ample time to covet the 120kW Superchargers that Tesla already provides at some motorway service stations. Home charging from a 7kW AC wall box takes 10 hours.

While it isn't Gaydon's job to fix the UK's second-rate infrastructure (the installation of a 350kw charging network has already begun in northern Europe), it will likely have to accept the downside of not contributing its own solution to the problem as Tesla has done. Fortunately for it, Audi - and other forthcoming direct rivals - will have to accept the same market conditions (or they will in the UK; on the continent, the aforementioned Ionity network is overseen by a consortium of German car companies).

Initially then, it will be the I-PACE's near 300 mile range that you will hear trumpeted (or as the Vehicle Line Director exclaims in Jaguar's press release: "For I-PACE customers - fuel stations are a thing of the past, after overnight charging they'll wake up every morning with a 'full tank of fuel'!"). And if that distance sounds more than sufficient for your daily needs - as well it might - then there is potentially much else to look forward to.

For a start, you can expect the interior to feel oversized. With no combustion engine to accommodate, the cabin has clearly been brought forward, liberating 890mm of legroom for rear seat passengers (who obviously won't have a transmission tunnel to contend with). Gaydon has also furnished it with a prodigious amount of new tech, including the new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system that debuted on the Range Rover Velar.

As well as integrating with Amazon Alexa (should you feel the need to ask your I-PACE whether or not it has enough range for you to get to work when you're not actually sitting in it), the car also promises to be the first from Jaguar that will update its onboard software over-the-air - which is also very Tesla. Buyers will also be given the peace of mind of an eight-year (or 100k) battery warranty, once they've stumped up the £63,495 asking price.

For the record, that makes it over £10k cheaper than the entry-level 75kWh Model X - a car inferior to it in terms of quoted range and performance. Following its show reveal at Geneva next week, we'll find out in due course whether or not the I-PACE is deserving of the attention that's about to befall it.





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Comments (241) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sidesauce 01 Mar 2018

    I can actually see this doing really rather well...

  • l354uge 01 Mar 2018

    It looks great.
    Apart from that tiny lip spoiler on the boot, that distresses me far more than it should.
    Guess it is to stop mk1 audi tt style rear lift?

  • HorneyMX5 01 Mar 2018

    It’s quite a looker and seems on the money in terms of range etc. The first proper Tesla rival?

  • David87 01 Mar 2018

    A very impressive package, actually. Bloody well done to JLR for this. Makes the Model X look a bit silly.

    The only downside is the charging situation - Tesla have a monopoly with their installs already all over many motorway service stations, so what will everyone else do?

  • Leggy 01 Mar 2018

    That looks like a pretty good deal. Plenty of buyers for Tesla’s and this looks much nicer.
    Hope they sell plenty.

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