It’s really hard to believe that Jaguar’s first fully electric vehicle is the I-PACE. That’s because it’s a car that delivers great performance, in a package with the fit and finish that is clearly from a company that’s been around for decades.
Jaguar’s vehicle lineup includes the F-PACE, a luxury performance SUV, the E-PACE a compact SUV and now the I-PACE which is their first EV in what they call an SUV. The reality is the I-PACE is much more of a crossover than a serious off-road vehicle, but it is a vehicle that sticks out for all the right reasons in their product lineup.
The I-PACE is a window into the future of our automotive industry. Reviewing the battery-powered vehicle, during the past week, where EVs were so contentious, provides a great opportunity to respond to many of the myths or fears being raised. The I-PACE is the 4th fully electric vehicle I’ve driven, first was Mitsubishi’s i-Miev, the next was the Tesla Model S, then the Model X and now the Jaguar I-PACE.
The car is available in 3 different models, the S, the SE (reviewed) and the HSE). While the model variants change the features of the vehicle, it’s great to see the 90kw battery maintained throughout the lineup.
Before we get deep into the review, check out this hands-on video of the car in action.
Beautiful outside and in
The Jaguar I-PACE borrows a little from the rest of the Jaguar lineup, but it is a car that’s specifically designed to be electric. That means Jaguar is not doing what Hyundai did and taking an existing car and dropping in some batteries, that model has production efficiencies, but compromises on what essentially a modern, long-distance EV can and should be.
The design of the car looks smart, sophisticated and a good dose of futuristic, while being perfectly acceptable driving the streets today. While Jaguar will call it an SUV, it’s really a crossover in terms of size and height. Parked next to my wife’s Honda CRV, it’s definitely a smaller vehicle, but thanks to some smart design decisions, feels big and spacious inside.
The car comes in a range of colour choices and the online configurator has dozens of options. One of the nicest configurations you can choose is the panoramic roof which our review model had. This provides a feeling of space and gives rear passengers a great view, seeing through the top of the vehicle. This glass is tinted to ensure you don’t get cooked under all that glass.
Wheels are one of the biggest statements you can make with a vehicle. While some people see the wheels and tyres for their utility as 4 contact patches to the tarmac, the large 20″ rims help provide a stance and look to the I-PACE, one that was commented on a number of times during my time with the car.
As EV designers assist engineers in their efforts to maximize range, door handles is something that has to be thought through. Jaguar decided to go with retractable door handles, which disappears into the body when the car is locked (or moving). As you approach the car and unlock it, the handles slide out, providing a very obvious and healthy grip area to open the door.
At the rear of the vehicle, you’ll find a fairly healthy rear defuser. It looks impressive, but I suspect this is far more to do with looks than any practical diversion of airflow in the process of reducing drag. Either way, the rear end as a whole works really well together.
Electronic Air Suspension is an optional component that enables the I-PACE to raise or lower the suspension at the touch of a button. This feature does come at a cost, but if you require additional ground clearance, it’ll raise the car but a significant amount, as much as 230mm. Air suspension gives you the choice between 3 different heights. When you get into the car, it’ll be in standard height, but raise it up and you’ll be in ‘off-road mode’. The air suspension actually enables you to lower the vehicle as well to what they call ‘access height’, making it easier to get in and out of. While it doesn’t have the same geo-location memory of the Tesla, it is a neat feature I used a number of times during my time with it.
When you climb inside the I-PACE, you immediately get a sense of the quality finishes and the attention to fit and finish available from Jaguar. From the leather stitching of the seats to the complimenting array of colours across the dash, it’s perhaps the fact that regardless of where you look, everything is finished in such high quality.
The I-PACE uses 3 displays to power your driving experience. The main display in the center console is ultrawide and is actually really high quality. It’s fast and responsive and importantly also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay if you prefer to take it over with your own content.
The display below this one is a secondary display that enables you to access a few common features. The first is climate control, the second is media controls and the last is seat heating controls. This offers up the ability to have the primary screen dedicated to a take like navigation, while the secondary screen still enables control over common functions.
At night the vehicle feels changes considerably, largely thanks to configurable ambient lighting. By selecting your own LED colours in the interior, it adds a level of personalisation. There’s a range of colours available that includes red, blue, purple, white, yellow and more.
Our review unit was complimented by the Monogram Aluminium trim finisher, but there’s a range of options available for the accents in the dash and the door panels. These include gloss black, a charcoal ash veneer and an Aluminium weave Carbon Fibre trim to suit your personal preference.
In the center console, you’ll find a space for your phone, complete with a reach-in entry tunnel. This space is great, easily accommodating today’s large phones. Both the diver and passenger sides contain USB chargers, however, unless you’re willing to stack your phones, there’s only enough room for a single phone. You should definitely not leave a phone in the reach-in tunnel as the dramatic acceleration of the I-PACE will send it flying like a missile.
The full realisation of a computer on wheels
When it comes to the technology on offer with the I-PACE, the list is extensive, with the combination of technologies achieving a great driving outcome.
To begin, our review model had many of the checkboxes ticked in the configurator, so it’s on the smarter builds of the SE variant. To begin, when you first sit in the car, you’ll have the ability to adjust your seating position and store it in one of 3 hardware buttons for different driver memories. While many other vehicles have just 2, a 3rd offers the ability for one of your growing children to also set their preference when behind the wheel. The seat is comfortable, but it does lack lumbar support and the headrest is manually controlled.
As you start to drive, you’ll enjoy dual-climate controls, powered by hardware dials in the center console that actually have LCD displays on top. These aren’t touchscreens, instead, you rotate to adjust settings and select the setting by either pulling up or pressing down on the dial. This is a fairly unique control interface and while it works well, it does make me wonder why hardware buttons are still required when you have 2 touchscreens closeby that could easily facilitate these controls.
As you cruise around in different weather conditions, you’ll notice the automatic windscreen wipers are present, but if you activate the spray to wash the windscreen, you’ll notice something interesting. There are no jets attached to the bonnet, pointed at the windscreen, instead, the wiper arms themselves have the liquid lines in them, and release the fluid onto the windscreen right in front of the wiper. This actually reduces the amount lost and therefore the amount required for each use, smart.
When it comes to night driving, the LED Matrix headlights keep your high beams on, allowing you to see more of the environment around you, while blanking out just the specific parts of the environment ahead where oncoming vehicles are. This is the kind of technology you find in Mercedes Benz and Audi, it’s incredible technology and I never once got flashed by other road users. I also live in a regional city and there’s often wildlife on the side of the road, so this matrix LED system in the I-PACE is a serious safety technology.
For the driver, there’s a heads-up display which can be enabled or disabled based on your preference. This aims to provide you with much of the immediate driving information to keep your eyes on the road. The exact set of data is configurable in the menus, but your current speed, the current detected speed zone, the cruise control setpoint are all included in the coloured HUD. You can even have your navigation directions on the windscreen, although you do have to use the built-in nav for this to work. I’ve driven a few cars now have HUDs and this is easily the best quality display I’ve seen. It also had one of the best off-axis viewing angles.
As you reverse out of your garage in the morning, you’ll find the center screen changes automatically to the reversing camera. This works in collaboration with the vehicle sensors the ensure you get visual and audible feedback about objects (and people) in your path. One particularly nice touch I liked was when driving into your garage, the volume of your music gets turned down to ensure you hear the parking sensor beeps.
Speaking of parking, the I-Pace has the ability to parallel and reverse park. I’d like to say automatically, but in reality, it’s a fairly rudimentary implementation. Despite the cars electric drivetrain, the driver is still required to move between Drive and Reverse modes, while the steering does get done for you. It certainly helps if you’re not great at parking, but it’s not what I’d describe as automatic parking.
As you move about parking at shopping centres, you may like to access the 360 camera. This system uses no less than 4 digital cameras placed around the vehicle which are combined to display an overhead view of the I-PACE on the touchscreen. This also enables the display of several different views at the same time, helping you to maneuver parking easily.
As you drive away from the parking spot between two cars, your vision of oncoming traffic is often obscured. Thanks to the sensors in the front and rear of the vehicle, it has a great ability to look left and right for you, alerting you of potential problems.
When you’re driving and enable cruise control, it’ll conveniently active the adaptive cruise control and with a press of the lane guidance button on the steering wheel, the car will keep itself in the lane. This works fairly well, although it definitely disabled itself more often than I expected, although a lot of those disables were around town (the road was still double carriageway and 80km). With these features enabled, the car does a great job of level 2 autonomy, essentially driving itself down the freeway and dramatically reducing the mental strain on the driver, meaning you get out fresher at your destination.
What the car doesn’t do is have any smarts to automatically change lanes or overtake slow drivers. While the car can be always connected with a 4G SIM and Jaguar do promote over-the-air updates on their website, I don’t get the same sense there’s a regular cadence to these or a regular release schedule that addresses feedback and suggestions from owners. This is where Jaguar looks a lot like a legacy automaker who’s done a great job of learning the EV piece, not one born in technology.
Simulated Engine Noise
This is a feature that you’ll either love or hate, but I kind of love it. Jaguar offers something I haven’t experienced before in an EV. They give drivers the option to create a simulated ‘dynamic’ sound which is pumped into the cabin when you stand on the accelerator. This is neat, it’s completely optional, but not something available when you buy a Tesla. The experience as a driver is one of feeling like your input is responded to by a familiar audible response when you accelerate. The harder you press, the more sound it makes. The actual sound is still relatively subtle, it’s not a terrible V8 simulation, however, the concept does open the door to the conversation about what we want our EVs to sound like. There’s certainly merit to keep them as futuristic whirs from the electric motors, but I definitely like this option from Jag, nice work.
Jaguar offers a mobile app called ‘In Control Remote’. This app can be connected to the car to track your vehicle’s location, the amount of charge remaining in the battery, the current charging status, control the climate inside the vehicle and also review your previous journeys.
The actual process of connecting your phone to your car is probably harder than it needs to be. To begin, you download and install the mobile app on your phone. You’ll then set up a Jaguar account. You’ll then need to go to a web browser to add a vehicle to your account. To do this, you first need to enter the VIN of your vehicle, which is available in the driver’s display in one of the submenus, navigate to this using the steering wheel controls. Next, your vehicle needs to be connected to the internet via cellular or WiFi, which you’ll need to do on the main touchscreen. If you want a 4G connection, you’ll need to add your own SIM card to the center console (under the arm rest).
The next step is to press a dedicated hardware button located above the rearview mirror and return to your web browser (I used a laptop) and it should send a signal out of your vehicle to the Jaguar servers, which is then detected by the Jaguar website you’re currently on. This can take up to 30 seconds. After multiple tries, I finally succeeded. Return to the mobile app and sign into your Jaguar account and your vehicle and control over the vehicle will now be enabled.
While that process is painful, for most owners, it’ll happen once and you’ll never have to think about it again.
Speed without the noise
One of the best attributes of electric vehicles is their ability to deploy that power at will, on demand, whenever you want. That makes the Jaguar I-PACE one of the most fun vehicles to drive. When you drive the I-PACE, you’ll experience acceleration in 3 forms, Eco, which isn’t as aggressive, but does help extend your range, standard which is a modern blend between range and performance and dynamic which prioritises performance over everything else.
I spent most of my time in Dynamic and I loved getting in the car and there are now a few unhappy commodore drivers around Albury Wodonga, as the I-PACE off the line is amazing. Possibly more impressive is the ability to stand on the accelerator pedal at any speed and have it surge forward at speed. While this doesn’t quite match the Model S rollercoaster kick, it’s a lot faster than I imagined.
To power this experience, you need a powerful battery. Located in the floor of the I-PACE is a 90 kWh lithium-ion battery, which is good for of a top speed of 200km/h so while the launch is thrilling, it’s also relentless in its power delivery, it just keeps going and that makes for a fantastic driving experience. Just keep an eye on that speedo, it’s really fast to hit that 110km mark.
To put some metrics around it, in Dynamic mode, the Jaguar I-PACE can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and let me tell you, the brakes are impressive as well. When you stand on it, the car pulls up with purpose, often in a much shorter distance than passengers are ready for.
The overall power output is 294kW, while that’s healthy, it’s not as much as some cars, but the traction control, combined with that instant acceleration makes it feel even more powerful than the number suggests. The max torque is a staggering 696Nm, higher than a lot of similarly specked ICE vehicles, and that’s also aided by a fantastic AWD drivetrain, with the dual electric motors working together to put the power to the ground.
Now for the biggest question, I got while driving the I-PACE.. how long does it go on a single charge? The answer is a little more complex than you’d expect. The website lists the WLTP rated range as 470km. This represents testing conditions from the EU known as the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) laboratory test.
Naturally, I was a little surprised to see just 352km (at 99% charger) on the display when I first got in. I had planned on stopping at Euroa on the way home to Wodonga, but this meant I had to if I was to reach the 350km+ journey.
I reached out to Jaguar to explain the difference between the two figures and here’s the response.
The press cars have larger wheels and spec that is not likely to achieve that figure in Australia with many of the features turned on. It you are getting a 350ish range displayed on the dash – that is what the car believed you will get based on the current driving style. The range left will changes depending on the amount of regen and the type of driving you are doing. You can reset the range displayed – so it reads in the 400’s but the current driving style are showing it will get around the 350km mark.
So in reality, the person driving it before me drove it hard, so the computer predicted the remaining range based on that driving. In reality, the number is somewhere in between, likely over 400km of range, but I don’t know the exact figure after a week of mixed driving. I would definitely like Jaguar to update the range estimate on their online configurator, based on the options you select, as the range is one of the biggest ways you can justify the range.
An SUV with purpose
The Jaguar I-PACE uses the CCS type 2 connector which uses Direct Current power, by-passing the AC/DC inverter which enables the energy to be fed straight into the battery, allowing for more efficient and faster charging.
Right now the ability to recharge for nothing at Chargefox’s fast-charging stations is a very nice bonus, but that won’t last. When it does I still love the reduced running costs of electric vehicles and recharging will still be a few dollars, rather than between $60 and $100 each time you fuel up an ICE car. The week I spent with the car was made up of many days where I used it as an owner, just topping up at night from the included 240v charger. Charging on this is obviously slower (around 11km/hour).
Occasionally I stopped at the North Barnawartha fast chargers, located just outside Wodonga, as well as the Euroa site on the trip down the Hume to Melbourne. When charging here I was getting 50kW charging, despite the fastest at these locations, now being the fastest in the country, supporting ultra-fast charging up to 350kW. Jaguar is working on a firmware update that’ll double the charging rate to 100kW which would dramatically reduce (not halve) the time take to recharge. Typically I stopped for around 40 minutes, adding a couple hundred km’s of range to the car.
Charging at these public locations is pretty straight forward, just follow the instructions on the front of the rechargers. If it’s your first time, download the Chargefox app and sign up for an account (free and takes a couple of seconds). Then add a credit card for payment. From there you can select the charging location you’re at, typically the map shows your current location and you tap on the charging icon. This offers a choice of chargers at the site which, now all feature labels with unique charger numbers to simplify the selection. Choose the charging connector type (Chademo or CCS) and connect the cable to your car. It’ll do the handshake to ensure the charger provides the power at the rate which the car can handle. At that point, the charging begins, shown both in the app and on your phone, as well as the small display on the front of the charger.
It is worth knowing that the charging cable locks into the vehicle and no amount of pulling on it will remove it. This means as you go to grab a coffee and take a toilet break at the service station, you know nobody can disconnect you. When you’ve finished charging (push notification available if you wait for 100%), just fire up the app and tap the ‘Stop charging’ button. Now here’s a gotcha for all I-PACE owners.. you have to press the unlock button on the keyfob to release the charging cable. This isn’t explained anywhere in the app. Once you do, you can remove the cable and return it to the charger, continuing your journey.
Range in EVs really isn’t an issue as long as you do one simple thing. Just enter your destination into the nav before you leave and it’ll tell you if you need to stop off along the way. This means you’d really have to be trying to run out, to embark on a journey you knew wasn’t possible. The one caveat to that, if you’re like me and love to use Google’s Android Auto, this won’t know you’re in an EV and recommend stops, so just be careful with that. By way of comparison, Tesla’s will also tell you how long you’ll need to stop at the Supercharger and availability of chargers at each site is a very clean solution.
If you drive an EV, chances are you’ll know about the PlugShare app which shows charging locations on a map and indicates different types of chargers. I fired it up to discover a local business Middy’s Electrical actually had a Type 2 or Mennekes charger. This was actually more convenient than the Fast Charger out the road, so I gave it a try. Unfortunately, while the cable connected, the display in the vehicle remained on initialising, despite multiple connection attempts and waiting for around 10 minutes. I gave up and charged at home.
While I knew the answer, I also had to try the Tesla Supercharger as well. The first challenge when connecting the I-PACE was to get the car close enough for the short charging cable on Tesla chargers. With this resolved, again the connector fit (I’m used to the PC industry where plugs only fit one socket type), but the power never initiated. The Tesla Superchargers use a standard Type 2 connector, generally reserved for AC power and they made it accept DC power with some internal switching within a Tesla, the I-Pace can only accept DC power through the two large DC pins at the bottom of the CCS2 port. Tesla has announced plans to upgrade their Superchargers, adding a CCS2 connector for the Model 3, so Tesla theoretically could open up their superchargers for all vehicles, but we’ll have to wait and see on that.
On a normal day, our house uses around 9.62kWh or $2.02 of electricity per day. For the days I had the I-PACE and charged overnight, the usage rose to around 3.89kWh which increased the cost around $6.49. This is means to get an additional couple hundred kms of range, it cost less than $4.50. If I owned this vehicle, I could easily see myself charging once a week as my commute is only around 10km per day and less than 10 minutes each way. For me to reach the fast charging at Barnawartha North, it’s around 30kms away, so it really is only worth it if I’m heading to Melbourne, so the fact the Tesla Superchargers are located in the middle of Wodonga is a big advantage, offering far more convenient charging. Even more convenient is the power outlet in the garage which happened to be perfectly positioned next to the I-PACE’s charging port on the front left quarter panel, almost like someone thought of it when they were building the house.
An SUV with purpose
In the cabin, space is fairly sizable, particularly generous when someone at my height (6’3′) has loads of headspace to that glass roof. I think that if you’re going to buy the I-PACE, you should definitely spend the extra money for the panoramic roof. While it doesn’t open like a sunroof, it does offer the feeling of a much larger cabin size than the dimensions would suggest.
When it comes to travelling with the family, there’s of course the expected ISOfix car seat mount to hold the really young ones. When you’re seated in the back row, there’s plenty of leg room, enhanced by the lack of a transmission tunnel. This means you can fit 3 full sized adults in there, making it a true 5 seater.
One storage attribute that’s easily missed is a small channel that runs the width of the car, underneath the rear seat. This won’t store much, but if you need somewhere to put your lolly stash during a road trip, then you’ve got it. It could also hold things like a Nintendo Switch or your phone while connected to the USB chargers in the rear.
I mentioned earlier that this was being sold as an SUV. When you open the boot, you’ll quickly agree, this does not offer the storage space of a Honda CRV or Mazda CX5. While space is decent, it’s not amazing. If you pay attention to the depth, you’re missing the ability to store items under the rear floor which is actually pretty high. So what about that front trunk?
When you open the hood on the I-PACE, you’re probably expecting a space the size of a couple of backpacks as there’s so many less components in an EV. The reality is the storage in the frunk is tiny, enough to hold your charging cables and not much else. If you want to fit some food in there so it doesn’t stink up the cabin, then that’ll work, but it really is small compared to what I expected. When you look through some of the holes in the plastic shrouding, you can actually see there are large gaps unfilled, while really makes you scratch your head as to why Jaguar couldn’t extract more storage here.
As good as it is, this car isn’t perfect
The accuracy of the range is definitely my largest complaint, however that could be addressed with a software update. Something more difficult to change is the body styling. While I love the look of it, I parked it next to my friends Audi RS3 and it immediately became obvious which one looks more aggressive, faster while standing still and just flows better across the whole design. If I was walking away from the cars and looked back, I know the RS3 would definitely put a bigger smile on my face, purely on looks alone.
My final complaint is the lack of walk-away locking. I searched through the menus and submenus imagining that I missed it somewhere but I could not get the car to automatically lock as I left its proximity. This is a feature in cars well under half the value of the I-PACE and I’m stunned it’s not included. While not everyone has experienced a Model S or Model X, I have and that means that I really miss the welcoming door handles sliding out from the body to greet you as you approach. Having the car open the door automatically is an even nicer touch and that’s a feature that’s possible with EVs thanks to the battery on board and nothing to do with the badge. I want that as an option at least.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
A premium car like the all electric Jaguar I-PACE is going to come with a premium price every day of the week. The I-PACE starts at A$115,000 and ranges up to around A$160,000 depending on options. The car I reviewed was the SE edition which is the middle of the 3 variants, however, it did have many of the upgrades possible, so would likely cost you around A$140,000 on the road.
Right now, that price tag positions the I-PACE as substantially less than Tesla’s offering and substantially more than something like the Hyundai Kona Electric.
When it comes to electric, you can resolve a chunk of that purchase price to the reduced running costs over a 5-10 year period, as well as reduced servicing costs. I also allocate a portion of the price tag to the dramatic performance, with traditional performance vehicles costing far more than their less-performant models. There’s also the badge and brand of Jaguar which will always position themselves over the likes of Ford, Holden, Mitsubishi, Subaru etc. In terms of fit and finish, I’d definitely put the I-PACE on par with something like a high-end Mercedes or Audi, so there’s some of the price tag that gets resolved for the quality of finishes and fabric selections.
Even with all these aspects considered, the price tag here is significant and out of the range of most people, largely driven by the cost of batteries in 2019. What we do know is the trajectory of batteries is headed down, like many other technology cost curves.