Space, pace and grace: Jaguar’s sleek entry into the EV segment

The I-Pace by Jaguar packs sports-car performance into a 5-seat electric SUV with brisk acceleration, seamless power delivery and instant responses

The luxury vehicle space seems to be the other EV segment heating up in India. Mercedes launched its all-electric EQC last year, Audi is set to launch the e-Tron SUV in India this year, and now Jaguar brings the I-Pace. With a sticker price of ₹1.06-1.12 crore (ex-showroom, India), the I-Pace is priced on par with rivals; but just how different is Jaguar’s EV to the competition? Let us find out.

Built on a bespoke EV platform and designed to make the most of the packaging freedom electric cars allow, the I-Pace is a Jaguar like no other, in more ways than one. Simply put, the styling is radical. While there are some familiar Jaguar elements such as the ‘raised eyebrow’ headlights and square grille, the stubby bonnet, cab-forward design and large passenger cell are a big departure from the traditional SUV silhouette. Even the rake of the rear windscreen is a break from the norm. All in all, the Jag looks futuristic and stands out.

The I-Pace is also peppered with lots of interesting details. The door handles sit flush with the body — like in the Range Rover Velar, there are vanes in the grille that open and close depending on the cooling requirements of the battery and there is no rear windscreen wiper either; Jaguar’s designers say the minimal turbulence at the back keeps dust and grime from accumulating on the window. In practice, the arrangement works well and you can see through the rear window even on a rainy day, but for best visibility tick the option for the superb camera-base ‘ClearSight’ rear view mirror.

Inside, the I-Pace is all kinds of new-age cool. The layered dashboard is also well turned out, and the floating arms of the lower portion of the centre console — with buttons for the gears, mode selector and suspension adjustment — is well done too. What will also draw your eye is the touchscreen arrangement.

The I-Pace features Jaguar’s Touch Pro Duo system, with a main 10-inch touchscreen on the dash and a smaller 5.5-inch unit for the climate control system lower down. Thankfully, Jaguar hasn’t ditched physical knobs for temperature and fan settings. The main touchscreen is quick and slick but is not as intuitive as we would have liked.

Drivers will like the view out the front though you might need some time to judge the front extremities of the car. The sculpted and multi-way adjustable front seats, chunky steering and smart digital dials do put you at ease. Those seated at the back won’t complain about space either. Legroom and headroom are adequate, even for six footers, and though the rear windows are small, the massive glass roof — standard fit on the Indian-spec car — gives an airy feel to the cabin. Unusually, there is no blind for the roof. Jaguar says the glass absorbs infrared rays and keeps the cabin cool at all times. We didn’t have cause for complaint on the overcast day we drove the I-Pace, but the true test of the claim would be on a bright, hot summer’s day.

The rear seat-back is slightly upright, and the seating position is a bit knees up — a consequence of the battery pack positioned under the floor — but, on the whole, comfort at the back is pretty good. Interestingly, there is some storage under the seats too, and you will find recesses for all sorts of knick-knacks in this cabin.

Moving to equipment, the I-Pace gets as standard, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, connected tech, a panoramic glass roof, two-zone climate control and a powered tailgate. This fully-loaded HSE trim adds in Matrix LED headlamps, 16-way adjustable powered front seats (with heating and cooling), adaptive cruise control, a sweet-sounding Meridian 3-D sound system, and gesture-controlled tailgate for the (relatively) small additional outlay. What is disappointing is that air suspension and four-zone climate control are only available as options and will add to the price.

Whoever believes electric cars are no more than glorified appliances needs to drive an I-Pace. With 400hp and 696Nm of torque on tap, the I-Pace is quiet and quick, but the real revelation is its handling. It is quick to turn (there is torque vectoring by braking), it feels agile and the superb grip from the all-wheel drive gives you the confidence to push hard. There is also a beautiful connection that you get at the steering — it is well weighted and has the right level of heft for different speeds. You really would not expect a 2.2-tonne high-riding crossover to be so engaging. The secret sauce is the low centre of gravity, courtesy the underfloor battery and a 50:50 weight distribution.

In terms of outright performance, we managed 0-100kph time in 4.8sec. That is sports-car performance from a 5-seat electric SUV! Acceleration is brisk at all speeds and the seamless power delivery and immediacy of response is addictive. Even in the conservative Eco mode there is no shortage of power.

For all its power and performance, the I-Pace also makes for a calm, everyday car. The drivetrain is all but silent and, at city speeds, there is little road noise to break the peace inside. Jaguar has also dialled in a selectable creep mode and, of the other things, you can alter the regen braking force too.

On its optional air suspension, the I-Pace rides well too. Big bumps and potholes are dealt with admirably thanks to the chunky tyres ably absorbing the initial impact. The option to raise the suspension by 56mm (for up to 230mm of ground clearance) comes in handy, and we were quite impressed by how readily the I-Pace clawed up a mild off-road path.

As mentioned, the Jaguar I-Pace has a WLTP range of 480km. While we are yet to put the Jag through our instrumented real-world test, a day’s driving in town, on the highway and with a few acceleration tests thrown in, yielded an estimated range of 350-360km on a full charge, which is impressive as EVs go.

The I-Pace can be charged at home, via a 15A socket, to full in 48 hours, while the 7kW AC wall charger provided with the car brings charging time down to 14 hours. DC fast charging at 25kW juices up the battery pack from 0-80 % in 3.5 hours, while a 50kW DC fast charger reduces charging time to 1.5 hours.

It would be wrong to give a definitive verdict on the I-Pace without a full-blown test of range and charging. Even so, it is hard not to come away impressed.

The I-Pace is interesting in look, feels special inside, and offers all the peace and quiet you would expect of an EV. What distinguishes the I-Pace, though, is the way it drives. It is entertaining in a way you wouldn’t expect an EV to be. This fun-to-drive character could be the hook in a field of luxury EVs that are close on price and spec. For now, all we can say is — space, pace and grace; the I-Pace has it all.

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