Jaguar I-Pace is first real Tesla competitor
The first real Tesla competitor comes from a somewhat unexpected car manufacturer: Jaguar launches its I-Pace, a big and strikingly good-looking fully electric cross-over to compete with the Tesla Model S and X, which have been monopolizing this market segment for a while.
The Jaguar I-Pace is the first car coming from a ‘classic’ car manufacturer as an answer to the aforecited Teslas. This cross-over has visual links with other Jaguars, the F-Pace SUV in particular, but it has also a personality of its own because of the technical possibilities: wheels on the far corners of the car mean a spacious interior, a lower roof line and big wheels give it a non-utilitarian, even sexy look.
Many new things
The I-Pace has its own completely new platform and structure (almost entirely made from aluminium), but the suspension is related to that of other Jaguars. While the basic suspension is entirely mechanic, a pneumatic suspension with adaptive damping can be ordered as an option. The large ventilated discs can regenerate electricity while decelerating, and the driver can choose between 5 different degrees of regenerative braking.
In the front as well as in the rear a 147 kW electric motor is driving the wheels, so the car is a permanent four-wheel drive. 432 poach cells (combined in 36 units) form the battery (stuck completely under the passenger compartment), which has a 90 kWh capacity. According to the new, more stringent WLTP test (Worldwide Light vehicles harmonized Test Procedure) the I-Pace has a 480 km range and can be charged in a normal way (10 hours for an 80% charge at 7 kWh) or by fast-charging (1,5 hour for 80% at 50 kWh or 40 minutes at 100 kWh).
Algarve, here we come
Jaguar took us to the Algarve region (south of Portugal) to have a first drive in the new car, and we have to admit we were fairly impressed. On normal roads and motorways the car drives impressively free of fuzz, comfortable but lively too. Its performance is far from bad: a top speed of 200 km/h and an acceleration up to 100 km/h in 4,8 seconds. Of course, with a more sporty driving style, testing the car to its extremes, you won’t have the announced range: a little spirited driving (but no crazy things) will make you consume more than 20 kWh in 100 km with this big and heavy (2,1 tons of weight) vehicle, so your effective range in these driving conditions will be around 350 km.
The interior is typically Jaguar: you sit fairly deep for a cross-over, but snug in very good seats. The lower roof line limits the interior height a little bit and the so-called cab forward design, with a big flat windscreen and thick A-pillars, makes that forward sight is not super, especially for smaller people. The sight to the rear, through a rear window that has the form of a letterbox, is simply bad.
For all purposes
As Jaguar is part of the JLR Group (Jaguar Land Rover) the manufacturer has a reputation to defend its off-road capacities. So Jaguar took us onto the gravel into the Portuguese mountains and also the I-Pace had to come over the same difficulties other SUVs of the brand have to cope with and it did it with a lot of zeal.
But that’s not all. When all the dust of the dirt track was blown away, we were invited to drive the car on the very technical and demanding Portimao circuit, home to a lot of test drivers from manufacturers and host of many racing categories. The I-Pace behaved astonishingly well on this long, curving and sloping asphalt stroke, thanks to its power and torque (696 Nm), its almost perfect weight distribution of 50% front and rear, its precise steering. Amazing.
A new I-Pace will not be cheap. In Belgium prices start at 78.990 euro in (fairly well equipped) basic trim, if you want luxury and extra comfort the price can easily reach a ton. That’s Tesla’s territory, of course, but the I-Pace can easily withstand the comparison. Finally Tesla’s Model S (more sedan-like) and Model X (more SUV) have a real competitor. The I-Pace brings pace, driving pleasure, comfort and good looks into the equation, drawbacks are the rear visibility, hefty price tags and a driving range that can shrink when you get (over)enthusiastic.
In Belgium 130 pre-orders have already been registered, in the Netherlands… 2.000. But that’s in view of the new tax scheme that begins in 2019, so everybody wants his I-Pace delivered in 2018 over there.