Jaguar i-Pace EV400 HSE
The first thing that you notice approaching the i-Pace is the door handles or lack of them. When locked, and more importantly when driving, they recess into the body adding to the streamlining. Although I have to say that whilst my first awareness of this sort of handle was on the Tesla Model S, and something that impressed me, Jaguar Land Rover had these on Range Rover Velar before and they are a different design to Teslas. Jaguar does seem to have done these very well. There is a strength and quality to them. I've even seen videos where they have manged to open through thick ice on a pretty frozen car.
Opening the door you begin to see why this car has won virtually every award going. It is really well built with that styling that says British and Luxury. Very comfortable seats with multi-way adjustment and on our car Heating and Cooling in the front. Ours just has heating in the back but you can get cooling as an option. Indeed there are a lot of options from multi-zone climate control, driver assist (more on that later) to heated windscreens and not forgetting a Heads Up Display. Our HSE model came pretty fully loaded with the exception of HomeLink and adjustable ambient lighting.
Driving it is like a dream. Handling is brilliant, acceleration is brisk and exciting. It is not a small car but unlike when I drove the Teslas last year it feels more suited to British roads and particularly British car parks. I can fit it in my garage for instance which neither the model X or S would fit.
Build quality is great as expected. One thing I have really noticed is how much better the paint is than most cars I have driven lately. We've had an incident in the recent storm where a bit of a tree brushed the car. I'm pretty sure that would have scraped the paintowrk on my previous car but no sign of damage on the Jag.
Styling is unique some calling it a squashed SUV. I think it is more of an elegant enlarged hot hatch. I like the styling. It certainly has road presence and turns a few heads.
One noticeable styling feature is the bonnet scoop. This funnels air over the car. aiding the aerodynamics and supposedly meaning that the back window doesn't need a wiper. Certainly in motion water does get whipped off the rear window and I have seen debris approach the front window only to be lifted up and over.
The distinctive front grill with its Growler logo make a definite brand statement but I have to question their efficiency impact.
Also embedded in the grill is a front facing camera which when coupled with cameras in the mirrors, tailgate and front window offer the abiltiy to have a 360 degree camera view. Now for reason Jaguar only know the default for this view is to have it really tiny desipte the fact that the centre dashboard has a very large wide-angled screen embedded. A number of reviewers have mentioned this as a negative. Fortunatelythey obviously didn't know that this is only the default and you can choose to have a much larger landscape view along with having it appear when reversing.
Let us talk about the infotainment system. It is obviously a hybrid of separate systems hidden under JLRs common design interface. For example the navigation system is updated separately from the rest of the infotainment and that download comes from Here maps. It is also not possible to share information from say the phone contacts to the navigation system. At times the system can seem sluggish - particularly when bringing up settings - but in day to day use it is actually fine. Navigation is good, the Here maps are kept pretty well up to date (even if updating is a painful process) I loved the way the navigation can also be displayed on the main drivers dashboard and even on the rather brilliant heads up display.
This latter is clear and bright. Clearly visible in all lights. It displays all the information you could desire including curent speed, the current speed limit (based either on map data or the traffic sign recognition), playing media, incoming calls, and the aforementioned navigation. This is configurable through a steering wheel controlled menu on the main drivers dashboard. This dashboard is actually another LCDD screen (one of five in the car (eight if you have rear climate control)) and is very configurable. You can have a single dial, 2 dials or even a full map screen.
The other screens sit below the infotainment screen and consist of a center screen surrounded by two twist knobs with round screens in the middle of each. These are the climate controls for driver and passenger.
The control through a mixture of pushing, pulling and twisting, the fan speed, temperature of the car and also the heated and cooled seats. The screens show the context of which mode the control is in. Definitely a conversation starter. Some people don't like these as they feel they have to take their eyes off the road to work out what mode they are in but I soon got used to operating them using just peripheral vision.
Both AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay are supported. Although the former is only available in regions officially supported by Google. An odd decision by JLR as I can't think of another car manufacturer that makes that distinction.
The optional driver assist pack adds things like adaptive cruise control with stering assist. This combination is akin to early generation AutoPilot on Teslas. I found the steering assist worked really well on British roads. Obviously you need to maintain hands on the wheel especially as the Jaguar system doesn't warn you when it is turning off - you do get a visual clue on the dash but nothing audible.
I'm not such a great fan of lane keep assist which is designed to warn you if you are drifting out of a lane either by vibrating the steering wheel (which feels like you are on the worst rumble strip ever) or by gently pushing the steering back in lane. This latter was way less effective than the full steering assist - I couldn't really understand why they were two separate systems.
Whilst we are on annoyances the turn indicator sound is way too loud. This is a very quiet car with even the windows being accoustic deadening glass, and the indicator click really stands out.
Ride quality is very good, especially on the optional air suspension which can be set in three heights including one for offroading. When on rough terrain the weight of the vehicle does make for some lateral wobble but generally it is a great car to eat the miles up in. It is genuinely a car that you want to drive.
So far you may wonder why I haven't mentioned the one unique thing about this Jaguar over other cars in their range. Partly that is because I wanted to emphasise up front just how good this car is as - well - a car. It competes really well with other luxury executive cars in its price range.
There are annoyances like over the air updates that break the saving of some settings (vehicle creep being one) but they are livable with because this car will always put a big smile on your face. The primary reason behind that is it's drive train. This is a crossover/compact SUV that can give some sports cars a run for their money (indeed at 4.5 second to 62 it accelerates quicker than the base Jaguar F-Type.) Let's let that sink in. This is a nearly 2 tonne vehicle of SUV proportions that can outrun a relatively lightweight customed designed sports car.
The other thing it can do is accelerate at the same rate from nearly any speed. No turbo lag here. In fact no lag at all. Just instant torque.
That of course is a big clue to how this vehicle is powered. Under the flat floor is a 90 Killowatt Hour battery which supplies juice to two electric motors one at the front, one at the rear. That 90kWh battery delivers a real world summer range of just over 200 miles when driving it like a Jag - more than enough for most British journeys. It also delivers a huge amount of fun. Its hard to describe the feeling putting your foot down and just going. The 0 to 60 doesn't do it justice its the 30 to 60, 50 to 70 or on German roads the 100 to 120.
Charging is through a CCS port. This is the European standard of a type 2 AC port along with 2 additional pins for DC charging. The bottom two pins are hidden under a rubber flap on the i-Pace.
AC charging is single phase only and restricted to 7kW. Not an issue in the UK where this is the limit on most domestic supplies but it could be restrictive in European homes where 3 phase is more common. With 7kW an overnight charge at home will fill the battery. For day to day commuting this may mean all you ever have to do is plug in when you get home for few hours to top up. Obviously you might want to charge overnight at cheap rate and unfortunately Jaguar have made this tricky to do. You can set preferred charging times and a departure time. The Jaguar always assumes you want to be fuly charged at departure time and will start charging outside your preferred charging time if it doesn't think it will charge in time. Many modern home chargers allow you set times when to charge and this might help.
Now wait a minute I hear you cry doesn't always charging to 100% damage the batteries. Not according to Jaguar and they are probably right. Firstly they don't give you access to the full battery capacity there is a top and tail meaning you only get about 90% and secondly I'm told they have done the equivalent of over their battery warranty lifetime of 8 years/100000 miles in test charges with no noticeable degradation.
Charging on CCS proved more challenging in our tests.
Firstly although the i-Pace is quoted as being able to charge at up to 100kW (that up to is important), there are very few 100kW chargers in the UK (although Ionity just opened their first bank in Maidstone as we went to press.)
Secondly as mentioned in this issues editorial the reliablity of the 50kW chargers in the UK is not brilliant. We did however find some good ones. In particular the local Engenie which costs £4 for a charge. This is supposedly limited to an hours charging but at the moment that is not fully inforced.
On that charger a charge to 90% takes just under 2 hours (most of the time you won't be fully charging.) Why to 90% well as I said the charge rate is up to 100kW but actual charge rate depends on a lot of things including temperature but most of all state of charge. As you get past 90% charging really slows down and it really isn't worth the time unless you are desperate. Most EV owners only charge to 80% on journeys where they need to rapid charge. Taking into account the capped battery avaialbilty this is pretty equivalent to 90% on the i-Pace.
I cannot emphasise enough though the need to use CCS DC charging when needing a quick top-up on a journey. Using AC will take forever as even if the charger says it can deliver 30kW the i-Pace will only take 7.
The 200 mile range however means long journeys are perfectly feasible. We took the test car to Belgium and back with two rapid charges and an overnight charge on a hotel destination charger. Watch this - we used a destination charger supplied by Tesla but some of those are Tesla only. Fortunately most Tesla Destination chargers have one charger marked for all EVs that the Jag can use. It is really important to note that although Tesla are fitting CCS chargers to their Supercharger network for their Model 3 the i-Pace cannot use them. This trip was incredibly cheap too. We think we only spent around £30 on electricity. Doing the same journey previously in a pretty economic Petrol-Hybrid cost over £70.
With the expansion of the 100kW charging network in future years range will not be a restriction at all and even now with a little planning it is not something to be worried about (as mentioned in the Editorial - have an alternative plan and try and avoid the motorway services)
What the Electric Drive train brings as well as fun is a tranquilty and calmness to long journeys. Somehow this really reduces stress. I even enjoyed being stuck in a traffic jam on the M25.
The i-Pace is an expensive car but if you are in the market for an executive luxury car or if you are a company car driver and you and your company can take advantage of the really good benefit in kind and capital allowances it would be first on my list to consider.
You'll note I've made minimal comparison with other electric cars and that is because I see the i-Pace as a very different beast to the Teslas of this world. Don't get us wrong we loved both the Model-S and X we drove last year and their infotainment tech is amazing but I don't see them as being comparative with the i-Pace certainly not on size. The real competition is the executive gas guzzlers and the i-Pace is definitely more than good enough to take quite a few of them off the road.
One of my passengers described it like driving in Hyperspace. I think I've seen the future and I like it.
The i-Pace already has a lot of honours we will add one more because it is...
With the exception of the last picture all photos in this article were taken using the SJCam Action Camera reviewed elsewhere in this issue.
Last mile transport
UK EV Charging Infrastructure
Our cover story how does the Jaguar I-Pace stack up in our long term review
When is a watch more than a watch
A great Action Camera and fantastic technology to make your physical audio media digital.
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