None, nada, and that’s the glorious point of this car: it’s Jaguar’s new frontier. A bright dawn, a new horizon, uncharted waters and so on. Who knows whether electricity is the new normal or the next stepping stone in powertrains, towards hydrogen and from there… the future? But in the meantime, electric vehicles are the here-and-now, imperfect answer to escaping fossil fuels, and Jaguar was the first mainstream manufacturer with automotive heritage to bring its electric car to a market of one, namely Tesla. Already, of course, the I-Pace is old hat, with Audi’s electric SUV, the E-tron, launching before 2018 is out, and Mercedes’ version almost here. But it got serious praise from the world’s car journalists when we all test drove it in the summer in Portugal, both on road and track. It’s on sale now, but there are not enough 150kWh public charging points, which the I-Pace requires to get to an 80 per cent charge in under 45 minutes. This should rectify itself in 2019, and most charging is done by owners at home or at work anyway, but be aware.
Ian Callum, Jaguar’s chief designer and a man who proves that you can combine a powerful job with a genial personality, has done possibly his best job yet with the I-Pace, creating an electric car that looks unmistakably like an expensive, desirable, dynamic Jaguar, and also sufficiently different and futuristic. The silhouette is sleek and punchy, with a shallow roofline touching a boxy rump. Inside, the leather seats look fantastic in red, and the I-Pace takes JLR’s dual touchscreen, one positioned above the other, to give lots of information but with clever graphics that simplify the experience. There are all the functions you’d expect from a car costing almost £70,000: satnav that calculates electric range and charging possibilities, heated and cooled seats, passenger air-con, voice control, great audio…
One of Ian Callum’s main talking points on the I-Pace is the cab-forward design, which pushes the driver towards the front wheels, creating more space in the back without having to lengthen the footprint, and with the advantage of making the driver feel more in control of the car’s movements.
Fantastic, both from the point of view of a Jaguar, and also an electric car, which is the only way this car is going to sell, otherwise you’d probably take an E-Pace or F-Pace for the former, and a Tesla for the latter. Let’s take the Jag experience first. It’s an SUV, and a heavy one, with the battery, which weighs twice as much as a conventional engine and transmission, so it’s not going to have F-Type dynamics. It compensates, however, with a sumptuous ride from Jaguar’s own air suspension system. It feels heavy, but in a plush way, soaking up ruffles and jolts to leave one wafting about in a manner more akin to a car costing twice as much as the I-Pace.
And the electric performance is equally up to the task. Jaguar states a range of 298 miles on the more realistic WLTP test, which is up there with some petrol cars, and shows that we are within spitting distance of range anxiety being a thing of the past. The 696Nm (513lb ft) of torque shoves this 2.3-tonne car to 62mph in 4.8 seconds, which brings the sporting nature of Jag back in to play.
Car journalists and the public alike have received this car warmly, with waiting lists growing before it arrived in dealerships. If the passion is cooler than it should be, it’s at least partly because the powerful rapid chargers in the UK were not there at launch, to make this a stress-free purchase. But that’s a shame, because this is a gorgeous SUV from start to finish, from the looks, to the interior, to the performance. It won’t be the saviour of Jaguar, because EV ownership is still at low levels, but it should be, because this is the most innovative, exciting product to come out of the brand since the original E-Type, and shows that Jaguar isn’t the fusty manufacturer of saloons for retired execs, but a class-leading designer of contemporary cars showcasing the latest tech.
Price from: £63,495 (Govt grant reduced to £3,500)