Auto review: The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace transforms expectations for luxury electric vehicles

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 16, 2018

       

The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace Global Drive in Portugal.

LAGOS, Portugal — Whatever image you have of Jaguar, it will soon be rendered obsolete by the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace, the first all-electric vehicle from a brand that has long lived by its founder’s maxim of "grace, pace and space.’

Forget the long hood look of previous Jaguars; since this is an electric vehicle, there are few if components up front. To compensate, the I-Pace incorporates other familiar attributes, such as Jaguar’s signature flowing waistline, although it accentuates the front haunches. Then there’s the grille lifted from the F-Pace or XJ6. The new aesthetic continues inside, which eschews the clichéd walnut-paneled library look. Instead, two large high-definition screens anchoring the instrument panel, augmented by a pair of rotary switches. It’s modern, elegant and intuitive. A full-color head-up display, which projects key information onto the windshield in front of the driver, is available. Finally, a panoramic glass roof lends the roomy cabin an enormous feel far beyond this vehicle’s 184-inch length.

Once you are seated, however, little prepares you for the I-Pace’s exemplary performance.

The test drive route started with a conventional mix of city and highway driving until the navigation directed us off-road, where the I-Pace forded an 18-inch-deep stream. Stop and think about taking an electric vehicle with its undercarriage battery pack of 432 cells effortlessly wading through water.

Emerging from the stream, the road went up an unpaved dusty mountainside, which the Jaguar handled effortlessly. The final stop was a Formula One racetrack, where the I-Pace swiftly yet silently generated speeds of more than 100 mph. And why not? It’s a Jaguar.

On-road, the I-Pace clearly proves itself as a classic Jaguar for the new millennium, with a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph. If you’re used to an internal combustion engine, going this fast this silently will take some getting used to. You can turn up the electronically produced artificial noise, but why? There’s a spectacularly good Meridian sound system that’s better at that.

The I-Pace uses a Jaguar-designed electric motor on each axle fitted around a compact, single-speed transmission and differential, enabling power delivery to all four wheels. Nevertheless, the vehicle is filled with features meant to extend the I-Pace’s range:

— The climate control adjusts airflow to the number of passengers so that air doesn’t blow on empty seats. The I-Pace can also pre-condition the cabin to the proper temperature while plugged in, rather than drawing power to do it once underway.

— The I-Pace maintains the battery pack’s optimal temperature while charging to deliver the most range.

— The navigation system factors in the topography of routes, driving styles and available range to accurately calculate routes. It also locates charging locations along the route.

The car employs regenerative braking to capture energy generated while decelerating to recharge the battery. It can be adjusted to capture more or less energy. Under the former, the driver nearly never has to touch the brake; just release the throttle, but gentle pedal modulation is essential.

A standard air suspension delivers an impeccable ride/handling balance in the best Jaguar tradition, lowering the car by 0.4 inches above 65 mph, and raising it 2 inches in off-road mode. Of course, as you’d expect of a car with such a huge battery pack, the I-Pace perfectly plants itself during cornering. Fortunately, there’s enough power that you rarely realize how heavy this car feels. In fact, its driving position and component setup give it a futuristic vibe that gives it uniquely futuristic driving feel. It’s enhanced by the utter lack of any mechanical commotion common to gas-powered cars. You just silently rocket forward, thanks to 512 pound-feet of torque.

It’s quite a package, one that truly reimagines the automobile, not just in terms of packaging, but also in design, proportion, performance and interior accommodations. It’s truly a landmark Jaguar.

In another time, they might have even called it the E-Type.

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Stats

Base prices: $69,500-$85,900

Motor: Permanent magnetic electric motors

Horsepower: 394

Torque: 512 pound-feet

Range (estimated): 240 miles

Charging time (80 percent/100 percent — 230 V): 10.1/12.9 hours

Wheelbase: 117.7 inches

Length: 184.3 inches

Curb weight: 4,800 pounds (estimated)

Cargo capacity: 25.3-51 cubic feet